The Self in Disorder
“…the needs of the organism— its need, above all, to construct a coherent self and world, whatever defects or disorders of brain function befell it…there are hundreds of tiny areas crucial for every aspect of perception and behavior (from the perception of color and of motion to, perhaps, the intellectual orientation of the individual). The miracle is how they all cooperate, are integrated together, in the creation of a self…” (Oliver Sacks, in An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales 2).
It is this creation of self that many neuroscientists have come to focus on. What Oliver Sacks declares is that there are many cases in which the generation of self is often hindered when the organism is question (in this case an individual human) is at the mercy of “defects or disorders of brain function.” In many such cases a certain disorder envelopes a person both internally and externally. It begins to take root in the internal “self” until ultimately disorder becomes the external I.
The disorder takes root to what leading neuroscientists Antonio Damasio coined the protoself, or core self. For Damasio this protoself, the coreself, is developed in relation to the contact between organism and object in the external world. The organism attempts to regulate and categorize this experience thus changing its “self” in relation to the object. This generates an attempt at obtaining homeostasis. Similarly Sacks maintains that it is in the organism’s overall needs above all else, to create a stable self.
This being true it can be argued that although this necessity for homeostasis is inherent for survival there is still variation in outcome based on severity of the disorder as well as power of will of the individual. Ultimately the determination to push past the deterioration of self through disorder is within the organism. Although claimed by disorder the human condition entails a need to establish a coherent self. This is to regulate the experience of the object that has afflicted the self. Though, it is a variable outcome placed in the hands of that individual to achieve this homeostatic state or not.