Psychology Response: Chapters 4-6
These three chapters provide a psychological foundation with which we can understand the workings of our minds. Through the use of real life examples that illustrate the tangible effects of neurological conditions, the psychological underpinnings are brought to light. Chapter four is concerned with sensation and sensory knowledge of the world, chapter five is interested in perceptions, and then chapter six deals with consciousness, the mind, and alternative states of being.
Chapter four begins with an artist who loses his visual sense to distinguish between black and white, and color. Because of this neurological disorder, Mr. I’s life is changed in drastic ways; his painting shifts focus to black and white values while his sense of taste is skewed toward eating foods that ‘look right.’ I found the intersection of sensory stimuli to be very interesting in that Mr. I’s visual response bias and altered signal detection affected his other senses as well, such as taste. His perception only seemed ‘right’ when his assumptions matched with his visual stimuli. Instead of focusing on his visual loss, Mr. I was able to recognize a new world that was unique to him through his changed visual spectrum.
The next chapter builds off of the theme of sensory knowledge and moves into the realm of perception. This was an interesting chapter because it explains how our life experiences and ‘knowledge’ are dependent upon the context in which we base our understanding. The example of Kenge and distance perception shows how we can seemingly be tricked by our senses if we are not sufficiently conditioned to perceive objects in a particular fashion. Our minds organize our thoughts and perceptions into groups based on cognitive associations that we have cultivated over the years. In this way, we perceive and recognize more clearly the things that we have organized in realms of descending familiarity.
The sixth chapter discusses the role of consciousness in the way we are able to experience of our life. I found the section dealing with Descartes’ mind/body split to be confounding. He came to believe that the mind was a separate entity from the body in what came to be known as the Cartesian dualism. This textbook seems to be out to clarify this myth by explaining that consciousness arises from psychological functions that are based in neurobiological terms.
This chapter also moves into sleeping patterns, sleep disorders, and lucid dreaming to highlight how consciousness changes throughout our everyday life rhythms. I found the lucid dreaming section alluring in that it attempts to subvert the seemingly subconscious act of dreaming by controlling our latent desires and impulses. I would like to be able to do this, but I think it could be an exhausting practice because our mind would have to be conscious all of the time, instead of allowing our mind to ‘turn off’ while we dream.
Lastly, chapter six talks about the effect of psychoactive substances on our states of consciousness. Psychoactive substances effectively alter our states of consciousness, depending upon the type of drug, the amount taken, and the potency. Furthermore, certain types of drugs interact differently in different people, depending on their personalities. While reading this I was thinking about books such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Doors of Perception and how psychoactive substances have come to be mythologized in popular culture and how this affects people’s perceptions.