Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Impaired Metacognition: Part I

Tomorrow is graduation. When I woke up this morning, I started to feel the stressful kind of feeling. As a result, I postponed all the appointments I made for this week till tomorrow to offset some stress load—including my therapy session… lol

Last night, I was trying to work on some writing about metacognition and delusions.

I once read that it was suggested that people with delusion might have impaired metacognition.

Since I have not been exposed to the source literature, I decided to look for some journal articles, which address the specific issues. Well, like what Confucius said, it is useless to engage in my ordinary reflections without learning something.

However, the article I picked up was not the original article that proposed the role of metacognition in delusion. The article actually aimed to refute the given proposal.

In short, metacognition is one’s awareness about one’s own thinking. For instance, it has been proposed that metacognition includes both the monitoring and controlling components.

If we refer back to the cognitive model presented in an earlier posting, I would argue that metacognitive skills are stored in long term memory and will be called into working memory when needed. Since metacognitive skills are not a given, one would assume that practice would make perfect and, thus, would enhance one’s mastery in metacognitive skills.

But, what does the impairment in metacognition mean?

Well, after I finished reading the first 20 pages of the article, I decided to give up my writing and went to sleep. What I learned after all those pages was that it was originally hypothesized that delusions arise because the delusionals mistaken their imaginations as their beliefs. In other words, there might be impairment in the delusionals’ ability to perform self-monitoring or to control their perceptions gathered through the self-monitoring process.

Well, please don’t quote me since I was half falling asleep while trying to figure out what ideas they were trying to convey.

When I was trying to fall asleep, I was so happy that I am only delusional but not those whose profession is to understand what delusions are (lol).

Actually, as I was plowing through the writing, I started to have the feeling that the way they presented the arguments is fairly similar to how my delusions came about during my first psychotic episode (Oops, sorry, it was just my delusional thoughts. Please also believe me when I tell you that I value all theories and their implications :-D).

There are a sound structure and sound logic behind their arguments. Yet, somewhere along the line, I started to wonder how they had come upon the beliefs the researchers held and that really required some imagination (Don’t take it offensive. The way I see it is that imagination is sort of the basis of my dissertation.).

When I was on the subway today, I tried to understand my experiences based on the metacognition theory (As I mentioned before, the tactics I use nowadays to distract myself from the delusion of references is by focusing on understanding the experiences). At the same time, my discussion with a friend of mine on the train helped me big time in clarifying my understandings.

As mentioned earlier, one major thesis of the theory was that the delusionals tend to mistaken their imaginations as their beliefs.

When I look back at my own experiences, I find it difficult to agree with such thesis.

It is my belief that the development of delusions is highly correlated to the experiences of hallucinations. However, hallucinations should not be labeled as imaginations for the following three reasons:
One has no control over the occurrence of hallucinations,
One could not actively generate auditory hallucinations (well, it is possible to generate internal voices but I will not label these as auditory hallucinations), and
Hallucinations are real sensory perceptions (Please don’t tell me that the voices I hear are imaginary. You can double check it with some kind of brain imaging techniques).
At the same time, it is my belief (or imagination lol) that hallucinations are the building blacks for delusions because the contents of hallucinations could gradually contribute to the development of a “delusional mental model” about the world surrounding the delusional. The sensory perceptions provided by hallucinations could eventually lead to the strengthening of the hallucination-related contents and result in the propensity for the delusionals to retrieve hallucination-related contents when trying to interpret events in their surrounding—this goes along with the Network Association and Attribution theories.

The consistent non-imaginary inputs (unless you want to call the hallucinations as the unconscious imagination) would eventually provide the delusionals with sufficient grounds to form their beliefs. In addition, sometimes things people say and do might actually coincide with one’s delusional worldview. These could serve as confirmation for the delusionals' hypothesis testing.

If you hear people saying that you are beautiful 1 millions times, you eventually will start to believe it. Moreover, I bet there will be at least once when someone really say it to you in plain English.
In other words, what the delusionals have are actual beliefs but not mistaken their imaginations as beliefs.

Is it abnormal? Have you heard of this thing called learning, education or brain-washing (lol)? After I spent this past 7 years in my school, I have learned to believe the implications of constructivism. Would you attribute it to my impairment in metacognition? (lol)

With my postings today, I am only providing my response for the imagination and belief part of the thesis for the metacognitive model. I will have to sign off now since I have to wake up early for my graduation ceremonies tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the plausibility of instilling falsified beliefs through my writing since my analyses have been based on data gathered from myself N=1.

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