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Living in a Bubble Dissociation, Relational Consciousness, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating psychiatric condition where people become obsessed by remotely possible harm, error, bad luck, and compulsively repeat mental or behavioural rituals to neutralize these possibilities. This tendency to draw inferences on the basis of remote rather than more likely possibilities is termed 'inferential confusion' and can lead to immersion in possible worlds accompanied by feelings of dissociation between: knowing and doing, imagination and reality, and authentic and inauthentic self. These dissociation experiences in OCD may inform us on the relational 'possibilistic' nature of consciousness. In a relational model of consciousness, the boundaries of consciousness are located between the person and the world, and shift according to the 'aboutness' of self-world interaction. A key element of 'aboutness' is projecting into the future to what is 'about to be', so sense of reality is constructed through a consensus about what could be, operationalized as a personal possibility distribution. Experiences such as derealization and depersonalization occur in OCD when there is a clash between personally possible worlds and the person ends up living in simultaneously a possible and an impossible world. Recognizing this confusion may be a key to alleviating dissociative symptoms.
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Keywords: Relational consciousness; depersonalization; derealization; possibilistic model; sense of reality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Fernand-Seguin Research Centre, Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, 7331 Hochelaga St., Montreal (Quebec) H1N 3V2, Canada

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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