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Consciousness seen from the edge of Madness

Psychedelic art by Pablo Amaringo -- a vision of consciousness and madness courtesy of Google search
art by Pablo Amaringo


Consciousness has been pondered for millennia and I have minimal exposure to the arising philosophical perspectives. I’m pretty sure others have ploughed this ground and I am curious to know who, particularly in the context of psychiatry, has explored these ideas previously. Please tell me who and what I should read.

The following ideas arise from personal anomalous experiences of consciousness, specifically an experience of mania rapidly followed by psychosis in 1986 and a second, extended experience of benign, stable mania in 2017 which did not result in psychosis.

Framed as questions, the ideas are:

  1. What if consciousness is a form of force or energy that is all-pervasive, say for argument’s sake in a manner analogous to electromagnetism?

  2. What if our personal experiences and understandings arise from how this force animates embodied living organisms?

  3. What if the physiological and social configurations of organic embodiment dynamically and iteratively shape the nature of this animation?

  4. What if central to personal experiences of this animation is the collective social construction of ideas of self and other and how both relate to wider reality?

  5. What if the individual and collective efficacy of this process of constructing and delineating self and other are integral to sanity?

One of many possible answers to these questions that intrigues me is that some experiences characteristic of Madness, such as unstable ipseity or grandiosity, could be apprehensions of deeper truths about the essential nature of consciousness which destabilize us in part because we lack a comprehensive, validating, collective context in which to effectively conceptualize them.