Got to Find a Peace of Mind
April 5, 2012 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble searching for this on Google. But, I'd like to know more about the inner workings of the mind. I'm looking for scholarly articles or anecdotes that discuss how people's minds work. I'm primarily looking for details about how vivid images are in people's minds and how close thoughts feel in someone's head.

Recently, I was told by my psychiatrist that people don't see images vividly to the point where it's like a movie that is being played. That definitely surprised me because I always used that as a reference for how my mind should function once I start healing from dissociation.

But, apparently, that's not a realistic reference for myself. I know that feeling like my mind is hollow and with very distanced thoughts and rarely any images in my mind isn't 'normal' either.

My psychiatrist told me that I will just know when my mind is functioning back to my definition of 'normal.' But, I'd like to know more about the inner workings of the mind.

Please let me know of any scholarly articles that discuss the inner workings of the mind from both a traumatized and non-traumatized perspective. I've had a difficult time searching for these articles through Google. If you have any personal stories then I'd like to hear those too.

Questions that I'm looking to explore include: What does the inside of someone's traumatized mind look like? How does it function? What about someone that has not experienced any traumatic experiences? How vivid are images? How distant are thoughts?
posted by livinglearning to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're not going to find much in scholarly articles, I don't think. Your best bet might be science-focused nonfiction aimed at a lay audience. I would start at Amazon's Behavioral Science and Biological Science bestsellers. Once there, steer well clear of anything that looks like self-help or "Improve your memory in ten easy steps!"

Two authors I love for brain-focused popular science are V.S. Ramachandran (this, his newest might help you) and Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia is great, though perhaps not as applicable).
posted by supercres at 8:15 AM on April 5, 2012

You know what? Forget the bestseller list. It's mostly self-help.

Go for the Ramachandran book (from the description: "Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in brain science, including language, creativity, and consciousness") or one of Sacks' earlier works.

Note that none of this is scientifically rigorous. Some academic neuroscientists might even scoff at it. (I don't; an earlier Rama book inspired me to go into this field.) It doesn't mean that the case studies aren't fascinating, though, and might even give you insight into your own mental state.

(The Ramachandran book is going on the top of my to-read list.)
posted by supercres at 8:25 AM on April 5, 2012

I would also suggest Oliver Sacks, but I'd start with his books of case studies. An Anthropologist on Mars in particular has two essays dealing with visualization and thought (The Case of the Colorblind Painter and The Landscape of His Dreams).
posted by pie ninja at 8:48 AM on April 5, 2012

You might dig through the back episodes of the Brain Science Podcast. I've just started listening, and though sometimes it could use some editing (and I don't say that often, I really like the amateur podcast in-depthness vs the NPR/PRI style) I think the host does a good job of digging through what we know vs what we've surmised.
posted by straw at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2012

[Linking to illegal PDFs not so great here, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:12 PM on April 5, 2012

My favorite book on (near?) this topic is Daniel Dennett's "Consciousness Explained". A quote from the wikipedia page about the book that seems relevant to your question:
Dennett claims that our brains hold only a few salient details about the world, and that this is the only reason we are able to function at all. Thus, we don't store elaborate pictures in short-term memory, as this is not necessary and would consume valuable computing power. Rather, we log what has changed and assume the rest has stayed the same, with the result that we miss some details, as demonstrated in various experiments and illusions, some of which Dennett outlines.
I highly recommend this book. It has greatly shaped how I think about how I think.
posted by funkiwan at 6:35 PM on April 5, 2012

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