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Depression as a disorder of consciousness

Whiteley, Cecily M. K. (2021) Depression as a disorder of consciousness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. ISSN 0007-0882

[img] Text (accepted manuscript Cecily Whiteley) - Accepted Version
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Identification Number: 10.1086/716838


First-person reports of major depressive disorder reveal that when an individual becomes depressed a profound change or ‘shift’ to one’s conscious experience occurs. The depressed person reports that something fundamental to their experience has been disturbed or shifted, a change associated with the common but elusive claim that when depressed one finds oneself in a ‘different world’ detached from reality and other people. Existing attempts to utilize these phenomenological observations in a psychiatric context are challenged by the fact that this experiential ‘shift’ characteristic of depression appears mysterious and resists analysis in scientific terms. This article offers a way out of this predicament. The hypothesis proposed is that when an individual becomes depressed, the individual departs from a state of ordinary wakeful consciousness and enters a distinctive global state of consciousness akin to dreaming and the psychedelic state. After unpacking and motivating this hypothesis in the context of research in consciousness science, I outline two of its important implications for the neurobiology of depression and psychedelic psychiatry. The upshot is a promising and conceptually well-motivated hypothesis about depression that is apt for empirical uptake and development.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The British Society for the Philosophy of Science
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2021 08:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:26

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