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Thu, 20/07/2006
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 "reducing valve").

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

Posted at:Thu, 20/07/2006 23:16:10