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Awakening The Self

3 Pages 780 Words

Awakening the Self
Human consciousness, or “self,” is shaped by our perception of the experiences that we go through on a day-to-day basis. The social theory of symbolic interactionism clearly defines “self” as just that; our interaction with others and our environment creates a more active human being (Charon, 2001). Renowned author and neurologist Oliver Sacks found that his patients with encephalitis lethargica were “awakened” by active social interaction. Whether you look at Oliver Sacks’ patients, the symbolic interactionism theory, or my four month old daughter Sasha, our sense of “self” is shaped by our interaction with others.
When Oliver Sacks just began to practice neurology, he had been taught to treat the problem and go on to the next patient. He quickly realized that there was much more to curing a neurological illness. There is a connection between the body and the “self” that requires healing on both levels. The two parts, body and self, are correlated in ways that may not have been considered. One patient, a mathematician, came to Dr. Sacks suffering from migraines that kept him from being able to work. Dr. Sacks “cured” him from the migraines, but the man lost his mathematic creativity in the process. “Along with the pathology, the creativity disappeared”(Sacks, 1990) Another set of patients that shaped Dr. Sacks ideas were those inflicted with encephalitis lethargica. “When I came to the hospital, I found some eighty patients who were, for the most part, completely ‘frozen,’ frozen in strange statuesque attitudes-and some of them had been in this state for forty years.”(Sacks, 1990) After experimenting with a new drug called L-DOPA, the patients began to “awaken” from their frozen state. They could walk, dance, talk just like they had never been frozen. One patient Miron V.(Sacks, 1990) was reunited with his family and allowed to work in the hospital. This ga...

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