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Self is a reference by an individual to the same individual person. This reference is necessarily subjective, thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. The sense of having a self – or self-hood – should, however, not be confused with subjectivity itself. Ostensibly, there is a directedness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its “self” (or itself). Examples of psychiatric conditions where such ‘sameness’ is broken include depersonalization, which sometimes occur in schizophrenia: the self appears different to the subject.
The first-person perspective distinguishes self-hood from personal identity. Whereas “identity” is sameness, self-hood implies a first-person perspective. Conversely, we use “person” as a third-person reference. Personal identity can be impaired in late stage Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, the self is distinguishable from “others”. Including the distinction between sameness and otherness, the self versus other is a research topic in contemporary philosophy) and contemporary phenomenology (see also psychological phenomenology), psychology, psychiatry, neurology, and neuroscience.
The nationally funded research Center for Subjectivity in Copenhagen, Denmark, is just one example of the importance of research on the self. More recently, the relationship between the self and technology has generated a research field called Technoself Studies. Although subjective experience is central to self-hood, the privacy of this experience is only one of many problems in the philosophical and scientific study of consciousness.
The insula is an area in the brain, which is located below the neocortical surface of the brain, in the allocortex. It appears to be involved in self-reference.[a] In addition, mirror neurons are neurons that fire both during the self performing a task and when watching someone else (other) executing the same task.
Main article: Philosophy of self
The philosophy of self seeks to describe essential qualities that constitute a person’s uniqueness or essential being. There have been various approaches to defining these qualities. The self can be considered that being which is the source of consciousness, the agent responsible for an individual’s thoughts and actions, or the substantial nature of a person which endures and unifies consciousness over time.
In addition to Emmanuel Levinas writings on “otherness”, the distinction between “you” and “me” has been further elaborated in Martin Buber’s philosophical work: Du und Ich.
Main article: Psychology of self
The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive and affective representation of one’s identity or the subject of experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology forms the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower, and the self as Me, the subject that is known. Current views of the self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity. Self following from John Locke has been seen as a product of episodic memory but research upon those with amnesia find they have a coherent sense of self based upon preserved conceptual autobiographical knowledge. It is increasingly possible to correlate cognitive and affective experience of self with neural processes. A goal of this ongoing research is to provide grounding and insight into the elements of which the complex multiply situated selves of human identity are composed. The ‘Disorders of the Self’ have also been extensively studied by psychiatrists.
For example, facial and pattern recognition take large amounts of brain processing capacity but pareidolia cannot explain many constructs of self for cases of disorder, such as schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder.
One’s sense of self can be changed if they become part of a group that they consider stigmatized. According to Cox, Abramson, Devine, and Hollon (2012), if an individual has prejudice against a certain group, like the elderly and then later becomes part of this group this prejudice can be turned inward causing depression (i.e. deprejudice).
The philosophy of a disordered self, such as in schizophrenia, is described in terms of what the psychiatrist understands are actual events in terms of neuron excitation but are delusions nonetheless, and the schizo-affective or schizophrenic person also believes are actual events in terms of essential being. PET scans have shown that auditory stimulation is processed in certain areas of the brain, and imagined similar events are processed in adjacent areas, but hallucinations are processed in the same areas as actual stimulation. In such cases, external influences may be the source of consciousness and the person may or may not be responsible for “sharing” in the mind’s process, or the events which occur, such as visions and auditory stimuli, may pers