Consciousness is Painful

For several years now I’ve been putzing around with a dissertation chapter &, subsequently, draft of a paper about the functional delimitations of consciousness. I’m starting to think about it again after a conversation with a philosophy student who had some ideas to share on the subject, & then I stumble across a passage I dogeared a few years ago in D.S. Wilson’s Evolution for Everyone (p. 112) about Elain Arthur Aron’s work on sensitivity. Wilson says,

They argue that a fundamental axis of variation in both humans & other species involves the processing of information. Information is a mixed blessing; too little can be disastrous, but too much can be overwhelming…A nervous system designed to process lots of information simply must be different from one that forges ahead inattentively. Highly sensitive people (HSP)…can’t avoid processing information. Indeed, their sensitivity appears to be quite general, including pain, bright lights, coarse fabrics, loud noises, & drugs in addition to mental processing. A person who reports having a rich, complex inner life & being deeply moved by the arts also tends to report being sensitive to caffeine & starling easily.

What is more surprising to me is not so much that this b0lsters my argument & points toward sources I need to track down (that possibly steal my thunder) but that it describes one of my children to a “T.”  So, even more important, I need to track down The Highly Sensitive Child to bolster my parenting…

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he founded the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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2 Responses to Consciousness is Painful

  1. Christopher Lynn Christopher Lynn says:

    Hey Cassie! For some reason I’m not getting my darned messages. I still need to get that book. Sitting here with the sensitive child right now helping him do his homework & wish I had the book.

  2. Avatar Cassie Richard says:

    Dr. Lynn,
    You will find the book you are searching for very informative and enlightening. As I have a child who his highly sensitive and has a nervous system that is not cooperating. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this subject.

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