Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grateful, Tired - Recent Reflections

I was thinking about something recently. When I was young I wondered if I were asked which of my senses would I be willing to lose if I had to give up one of them, which would it be? Well, we refer to them as ‘the six senses’ but technically, there are only five external senses that are named, and they are: smell, sight, taste, hearing, and touch. If someone refers to a ‘sixth sense’ it’s along the lines of ESP ‘extra-sensory perception.‘ The REAL sixth sense is often not remembered, but some believe that ‘sixth external sense’ would be body-sense or somatosensation. Somatosensation actually includes proprioception (balance), kinethesis (sense of space) and cutaneous senses which are perceived through tactile skin responses such as hot, cold, pain, hard, soft. The term somatosensation when referencing the brain actually references the somatosensory cortex which gets signals on things as pain, touch, proprioception and more.

I have a balance disorder, so for me, proprioception is not 100 percent., having an impaired sense of balance due to neurological impairment of a nerve into my inner ear, effects my ability to ‘know’ where my body is in relation to space (especially when I close my eyes!) You’d be amazed how many people don’t realize that our physical sense of balance is not just inner ear, but eyes too. If I close my eyes (or I’m in a dark room), and I can’t use my eyes to help me compensate for the impairment in my right ear that effects my balance.

I loved studying physiological psychology in school, and highly recommend Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book entitled, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. Dr. Sacks is a neurologist who wrote up case studies of patients with interesting neurological disorders and how those disordered effected their perceptions and daily functioning. It’s quite an insightful and thought-provoking book.

Now back to my earlier discussion. If I HAD to choose a sense to lose, which would it be? Would I give up my sense of smell, sight, taste, hearing, or touch? I guess, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I could no longer smell. I’d hate to lose my sight or my hearing. I think touch is important as well. Yup, I’ve decided…it would be my sense of smell.

I wouldn't want to lose my other senses, because they are to closely linked to my love of dance and music. Dance and music feed my need for self-expression (along with my writing). Dance and music make me happy, and feed my soul (almost in a spiritual way).

What about you?