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If without your 5 senses

  1. Nov 9, 2004 #1
    what if...you lose all your 5 senses...and..

    What would it be like if 1 day you wake up and realise your 5 senses are gone...that means you cannot touch, smell, listen, see and taste. What would you do? What would reality be like to you?
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2004 #2
    well... I assume i would be unable to speak aswell.

    I see two options:

    1. I would feel like nothing, getting more and more deppressed and evetually die of the wish to do so.

    2. I would get around the sadness, chock and expand and evolve my imaginary "vocabulary" and create my own world inside my head to live in.
    A little help of some mental disorder would help in this case, or/and highly hallucogen drugs.

    Im serious with the last sentence even if it may sound like humour.

    Other options are welcome!

    PS, imagine (well its impossible but anyways) being born that way....or just add one of the "minor" senses like either taste, or smell for example.
  4. Nov 9, 2004 #3
    I think it would be like what people experience in a sensory deprivation tank. You'd end up hallucinating constantly.
  5. Nov 9, 2004 #4
    sabbis...very well thought out...excellent ideas! I especially liked the second one.

    hmmm...if i were to be put in that state(w/o my 5 senses)...i would rather just die...
  6. Nov 9, 2004 #5
    I'd bump into everything possible...
    Depressing, considering I’d know what I was missing. But, a more interesting scenario is to consider all of humanity being born into that condition. Why, how much would you care to bet that, not knowing what they were missing, many people would come to believe they had it (reality) all figured out? (You know, just like how so many with but a measly 5 senses tend to do presently).
  7. Nov 14, 2004 #6
    If it was for only one day then I highly doubt one would die. As for how it would feel, lets think about this for a minute. No smell,touch,hearring,sight, or taste and you was to just one day wake up this way! Well, one opens there eyes see's nothing(black),can't feel them self laying on the bed(as if floating in 0 g's). One can still move but unaware of 3D space. One can not smell nor taste so they would not even realize that on a subconsous level there brain is still telling the lungs too inhale and exhale without the taste of the air. One with out the sight and hearring and combined with the lack of the other 3 senses would have no equilibrium. You asked, what would it be like? well, A DREAM!
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2004
  8. Nov 16, 2004 #7
    That one day is the closest an obeserver will ever get to observing the present time. Embrace it.
  9. Nov 18, 2004 #8


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    I'm assuming we can still feel things such as our emotions? If so, then I'd panic. Then when I realized I was probably flailing around etc... damaging my body, I'd try to stop moving and hope I wasn't face down.

    I'd probably figure out if I was face down by seeing when I started to thing retarded. But it might be too late by then.

    All in all, I'd assume I was dead.
  10. Nov 18, 2004 #9
    It would probably be an all knowing state, since that is what our 5 senses prevent us from now.

    What would I do, forget about all my worries since the body and its senses causes them all.

    What would reality be like to me, blissss.
  11. Nov 18, 2004 #10


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    The fact that you can't have any means of sensing your death coming doesn't bother you? The way you'll have no idea how much time has passed?
  12. Nov 18, 2004 #11


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    isn't that what a fetus is experiencing ultimately? or one in a coma sustained by artificial means? it would be a hard adjustment for me because i love to create beautiful items with fabrics, beads, paper, etc and i love music and then of course good food...yes, it would be depressing.
  13. Nov 19, 2004 #12
    If you go fishing, look at the stars or daydream and you will have the answer.
  14. Nov 20, 2004 #13
    Is your question asking what would happen if our skin stopped feeling? (that is what most ppl think of when they talk about losing the sense of touch) Because if so then you could still feel yourself hitting the floor it would just be the pain of your arm that would alert you to that fact.

    My personal feelings are that i would hopefully die, because to me life without movement and sight is nothing. I enjoy it too much.

    PS awesome quote Kerrie
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2004
  15. Nov 21, 2004 #14
    If you woke up without any senses, I dont think you would actually wake up. why would you. you need somesort of outside stimulous to wake up. and If you didn't you wouldnt even know you were awake.
  16. Nov 21, 2004 #15
    i think that you can wake up without a outside stimuli, becuz sleep is controlled by the brain. I dont think it would be the same assuming that you could still imagine that you had you senses in your dreams. Many ppl lucid dream (if you dont know how to i must put in my 2 cents and say YOU SHOULD LEARN! It Is Awesome! but it takes a lot of work. i've been practicing for 1year+ and have only had like 15 lucid dreams over that entire time, very hard) so i think that would become their "awake" time and being awake would be considered conscience sleep.
  17. Dec 4, 2004 #16
    What does it mean not to feel? I can't imagine something I've never experienced. Since many relate imaginary situations to ones previously experienced. Anyways, well it kind of depends. If I was born without the five senses, I wouldn't know what I was missing and in that case, I would probably last for like a day and die (since I wouldn't know how to eat).
    Question: Am I the only one experiencing this or is society as a whole suffer under the same condition? If i was the only one, I guess my family would care for me and I would wander aimlessly and like sabbis, create my own world to justify my existance, living in a world of hallucination.
    A society cannot exist under this condition and the only way it can is maybe by devolving (is this a word?) back to forms of simple cells.
  18. Dec 4, 2004 #17


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    Isn't being "awake" the state of being aware of sensory input? In this case, you couldn't wake up. You'd be in exactly the same state you were in while you were asleep. My guess is that you'd just dream indefinitely until you starved to death.
  19. Dec 6, 2004 #18
    This is such a cool thread. I love the diversity, from the 'i'd rather die' camp to the 'blisssss' camp. That rocks. If you couldn't sense anything at all, I imagine it would either cause a blissful feeling or a feeling of sheer panic, but ultimately you'd die of exposure, starvation, dehydration or whatever the material world did to try to help you. However, if you were born that way, you wouldn't really know the difference, so it wouldn't matter. Especially with the development of the brain and sensory-motor skills at a young age, the child would likely adapt and live in it's 'own world'.

    Jordan Veale
  20. Dec 8, 2004 #19
    This is something I have wondered about many times! I think it would be more interesting to ask: What would I "feel" like if I was born without eyesight? I realize that many people are born blind, and it surprises me immenseley how one can learn to analyse the world and learn to communicate at all without eyesight. it's incomprehensible! Just imagine being born and suddenly to start feeling pinches from your parents. How do blind people begin to understand those pinches and realize that they can communicate as well?

    On the other hand, we might not have the senses that a (hypothetical) alien race has, and they might wonder how we learned to appreciate the world without their senses.

    perhaps, we can only experience 0.9% of the universe with only our 5 senses. Perhaps even the technology humanity produces will be unable to uncover the "actual" structure of the universe, or our place in it.


  21. Dec 9, 2004 #20


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    A person in this state would probably would not be aware of awakening. At best, the lucidity of awakening might lead to a thought along the lines of "Am I awake now?" But with no sensory information, I doubt that person would come to the conclusion that s/he was awake. As several posters have mentioned, prolonged sensory deprivation causes vivid hallucinations, so the person's conscious state would soon become dream-like, although perhaps in an uncharacteristically vivid manner.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2004
  22. Dec 9, 2004 #21


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    We can differentiate wakefulness from sleep via their distinct characteristic EEG patterns. Although it would be interesting to see if the EEG for wakefulness would change with no sensory input to the extent that it no longer had the characteristic patterns of wakefulness. Perhaps you're ultimately right and no EEG resembling wakefulness would emerge, but I think it would; the transition of brain activity seems more spontaneously self-generated by the brain than generated by the influence of external sensory input.
  23. Dec 9, 2004 #22


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    I've been looking through some literature and apparently it is incorrect to equate sensory input with wakefulness. Studies have found that even when sensory afferents to the brain are blocked, normal cycles of waking and sleeping still occur. I'm not finding any mention of variance in EEG signatures. In fact, the only mention of EEG signatures I've found is a study showing that lesions to the midline tegmentum can induce a state similar to NREM sleep (how similar it doesn't say), but lesions in the lateral tegmentum, despite interrupting ascending sensory input, do not. In addition, electrical stimulation of the midline tegmentum can produce an EEG similar to wakefulness. The areas capable of inducing wakefulness through electrical stimulation have been labelled the ascending reticular activating system, something you might want to look into.

    Of course, I was trying to address the ontology, not the biology, of sleep. On a perceptual level, what distinguishes sleeping from waking? Obviously we are still capable of conscious perception when we sleep - otherwise, we would not experience our dreams. The difference in perception seems to be only that we are conscious exclusively of processes originating in the brain - dreams during REM and perhaps something akin to undirected thought during NREM - while we sleep, whereas we are also experience external input while we are awake. The lines blur even further when you consider the phenomenon of lucid dreams, which clearly shows the capability to control those brain processes we are conscious of even while we sleep. Given these facts, I cannot think of any other way to semantically separate sleeping from waking. So we run into a little scuffle between semantics and neuroscience when we consider the case of a person who can only experience internal brain processes while still showing a waking EEG pattern.

    Another question I can think of that cuts even deeper is this: If we inhibit the sensory afferents of the brain, but leave intact the motor efferents, would the subject still be capable of directed locomotion? Could a person continue to move in the absence of external experience? We do have the case of sleepwalking, but it's fuzzy to say the least whether or not that should be considered directed motion.
  24. Dec 9, 2004 #23


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    Here are a few resources.

    http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00i/dissfa01/EEG_lesson.html [Broken]
    http://thalamus.wustl.edu/course/sleep.html [Broken]

    The last link mentions a few other biological characteristics by which we can differentiate a sleeping state from a wakeful one, including the activities of the acetylcholine system, sensory thalamus, reticular nucleus, and thalamocortical neurons.

    We can differentiate the types of percepts experienced in dreaming and waking. Objects perceived during dreaming tend to be unstable and events tend to be disjointed and nonsensical, whereas objects perceived while awake tend to be stable and events tend to be continuous and rational. Still, I'm not sure that's of any help to our discussion here, because the stability, continuity, and rationality of waking percepts is a function of the stability and continuity of objects and events in the external world, as detected via external stimuli. Any hallucinations experienced from sensory deprivation would be generated solely by inner brain activity and presumably have the same characteristics as dream perceptions.

    Perhaps the most relevant data would be to determine if hallucinations from sensory deprivation are accompanied with EEGs or other biological correlates more similar to those of waking or sleeping. I haven't been able to find any research on this, but I suspect that a sensory deprived, hallucinating brain would look a lot more like a dreaming brain than an awake one. If that were the case, perhaps a person deprived of sensory input really could not be said to be awake while experiencing hallucinations, which would come to bear on the question of what it's like to be awake but completely deprived of sensory input.

    Sleepwalking is directed motion, insofar as the dreamer moves as if responding to his perceived dream world. I think the same would be true in the case of a sensory deprived, hallucinating person. Such a person would move his body as if responding to his hallucinations, which would constitute a kind of directed motion (at least, it certainly wouldn't be random motion).
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  25. Dec 9, 2004 #24


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    That last link seems to be addressing something similar to the studies I was seeing referenced in the text I have.

    Notice the bold print however. There is mention in the literature, I believe, of normal cycles continuuing in the absence of all sensory afferents, but the citation above only refers to a lack of afferents from the spinal cord. Actually, paralysis entails a lack of afferents and efferents. The word "normal" in my text probably refers to an EEG indistinguishable from that of a waking cat with sensory afferents, but the text is actually surprisingly vague on that point, and the link you provided leads me to believe that I might even be wrong to say there are studies of cases with no sensory afferents at all. I'll have to dig a little deeper to see if I can such a case.

    The interesting thing here that didn't even really occur to me (again, the literature we've both cited is vague on this) is that the cat with the waking EEG apparently didn't show any outward signs of being in a waking state. I can't think of any reason why that would be, though. Then again, I'm not a neurologist.

    Going further down, the state of wakefulness is now being defined as a state of being receptive to sensory input. I can see how the brain might still be receptive to sensory input even if it wasn't receiving any. I'm still wondering whether there would be any perceptual difference. A person might wake up biologically, but not realize that he had awakened and in fact experience no difference from when he had been biologically asleep. Should this state still be referred to as "awake?" Is waking really only a matter of receptivity?
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