Disorders of reality creation
Tonight, on a whim, I thought I would look up whether anyone had looked at disorders
of reality generation and a google search came up totally empty. I looked up disorders
of reality creation and was similarly rewarded with no hits. It was only when I
looked at "reality generation" or "reality creation" that I
got massive numbers of hits, but most appeared to be non-scientific sites which
were of no use to me. (ie New Age sites, religious sites and none of them appeared
to be neurological sites).
Looking up these terms on EBSCO (a full-text medical journal online source provided
by the BC College of physicians and surgeons) yielded, respectively, 4 and 19 papers
for "reality generation" and "reality creation". Most of these
were not relevant to the concepts I was looking for.
It is interesting how many people maintain the view that what they perceive as reality
corresponds to external reality. These people often get very upset when I suggest
to them that things may be otherwise and they seem to have undue faith in the data
presented to them after being processed by their sensory wetware filters. What people
perceive is an elaborate illusion created by their wetware with the illusion being
created by processes which are unconscious. This illusion is so realistic that it
is understandable that people confuse their personal virtual reality with external
reality. Only when there are malfunctions of the reality generation apparatus (RGA)
as a result of brain pathology or certain psychoactive drugs does it become apparent
to people that they are experiencing a virtual reality (assuming, of course, that
the individual is capable of appreciating the alteration; in the case of right hemisphere
strokes, people can be paralyzed on their left side and totally deny that there
is anything wrong with them and have elaborate rationalizations why they aren't
moving their left side).
Korzybski was the originator of the seemingly trite, but highly significant observation:
"the map is not the territory" and most people go through their lives
confusing their RGA created mental map of external reality with the real thing.
It should be noted that external reality is unknowable and what we experience is
a very highly processed distillate of raw sensory impressions. (Aldous Huxley's
The way I look at "reality" is as a construct created by ones wetware
which seems to readily dissociate into two distinct entities; a "conscious
self" and an external reality with which the "self" interacts. Both
the "self" and "external reality" are creations of the brains
wetware. Rather than making much of the dichotomy, I find it more useful to see
them both as creations of the RGA.
I've been toying with these concepts for over 30 years now, but it wasn't until
I read Tor Norretrenders book "The User Illusion" in the summer of 2000
(highly recommended) that I began to consider the concept of the RGA and disorders
of reality generation.
As physicians, we seem to be in the position of the blind men and the elephant exploring
circumscribed areas of psychopathology but not appreciating the complete picture;
eg body dysmorphic disorder, hemineglect and phantom limb pain are just a few of
the many disorders that are examples of disorders of reality generation. Presently,
they are viewed in isolation. Whether looking at them as specific disorders of the
RGA will be more clinically usefull remains to be seen.
As an intellectual exercise, I find this area very interesting and will hopefully
have time over the next few months to elaborate more on this topic. Another purpose
of this blog entry was to put out the concept of disorders of reality creation onto
the internet. I have no idea if anyone has ever googled this term before, but if
someone does, they will at least have a link to Norretranders book which is a very
good place to start for those who are interested in pursuing this topic further.
by Boris Gimbarzevsky Comments