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The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness
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The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,283 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
One of the world's leading experts on the neurophysiology of emotions, Professor Antonio Damasio shows how our consciousness, our sense of being, arose out of the development of emotion. At its core, human consciousness is consciousness of the feeling, experiencing self, the 'very thought of' oneself. Brilliantly wide-ranging in his scope, Damasio illustrates his thesis wi ...more
Published October 5th 2000 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1997)
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Jul 22, 2009 Kent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damasio takes a very difficult subject and makes it a little less difficult.

Something I (re)learned: "The net result is that as you think about an object, reconstructing part of the accommodations required to perceive it in the past as well as the emotive responses to it in the past is enough to change the proto-self in much the same manner that I have described for when an external object confronts you directly....In all likelihood, even the plans for future perceptuo-motor accommodations are e
Jul 14, 2011 Rory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is heavier on the neuroanatomy than other books on consciousness, so won't be to everyone's taste.

However, Damasio is an excellent writer and it is very interesting to get a neurologists take on consciousness, particularly as his focus has been on human emotion (finally emerging from the taboo that it has suffered for too long) and he has a long history with clinical patients that he can refer to when discussing the different parts of his anatomy.

Damasio's model of consciousness is int
Joshua Stein
Jun 18, 2011 Joshua Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, mind, science
Damasio is a terrific writer, and this is a fantastic assessment of the neurophysiology of consciousness. I strongly recommend it for those who are interested in neuroscience.

There are some concerns I have about the philosophical underpinnings, but Damasio isn't a philosopher. He doesn't grasp the philosophical literature quite as well as, say, Pinker, but he's still a terrific mind and he has a great understanding of neurophysiological involvement in cognitive functions. It's not really that Da
Provocative and well-writen, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness is, in many ways, the logical continuation of Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Moving beyond "simple" decision making, Damásio posits in this work that the whole of consciousness is first initiated by basic regulatory processes, augmented by sensory input, and finally made fully manifest in the moment-by-moment reference of said data to the memories that are represented ...more
Greg Collver
Apr 27, 2011 Greg Collver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book! I plan to read this book again when I can study it more thoroughly and learn some basic neuroanatomy.

"Perhaps the most startling idea in this book is that, in the end, consciousness begins as a feeling, a special kind of feeling, to be sure, but a feeling nonetheless. I still remember why I began thinking of consciousness as feeling and it seems like a sensible reason: consciousness feels like a feeling, and if it feels like a feeling, it may well be a feeling.

"The sevent
Nov 29, 2011 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
For me this was not an easy read all the way through.I had to keep putting it down every several pages,sometimes to avoid automatically reading it and not understanding it fully....having said that I was rubbish at Biology in school.Surprisingly for the most part its not that hard going, and at the end of it you get a good idea where your sense of self comes from and the constituent parts of the Brain and Brain stem that are involved in the processes of consciousness.There are helpful diagrams ...more
A thought-provoking and creative account of the neural correlates of consciousness, and how body and emotion may play a role in the production of consicous states. But the book moves forward by making many unsupported assumptions, and (of course) fails as an explaination of subjective experience.
Jennifer Lauren Collins
As a look into what consciousness means, as well as how feeling, memory, emotion, consciousness, and embodiment all engage with each other, this is a powerful look into what it means to be human and experience the human condition. Damasio's work is a careful exploration of what consciousness is and is not, and what must be understood in any examination of how the brain works to untangle and allow for experience & memory. Most of the book is wholly accessible to the average reader (if requiri ...more
Alexi Parizeau
This book is deliciously mindblowing on every page. It appears that in 1997 Damasio had finally fleshed out his neurobiological theory of consciousness and he quite skillfully managed to lay it out in under 400 pages (that may sound like a lot, but it's rather concise considering how much needed to be explained). I highly recommend it!
Claudia Reinfelds
"The first fact is that some aspects of the processes of consciousness can be related to the operation of specific brain regions and systems...The second fact is that consciousness and wakefulness, as well as consciousness and low-level attention, can be separated....The third, and perhaps most revealing fact is the consciousness and emotion are not separable...The fourth fact is that consciousness is not a monolith, at least not in humans: it can be separated into simple and complex kinds, and ...more
Michael Vagnetti
A description of how we feel consciousness, written with authority but also lyricism. For me, this was a remarkable account because it gives the underpinning of why human experience is so transient and elusive. Second, it uses the concept of a wordless brain "narrative" to describe consciousness, undermining language, and thus demonstrates why "subverbal" concepts have such massive weight. For me, language has always been in the shadow of the specter of what Damasio calls the "proto-self." Put a ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book transformed my view of consciousness. His fascinating case studies and careful, humane explanations unpack how core consciousness works. Essential picture as a corrective of arrogant philosophical discussions of Consciousness as unitary, graspable and propositional.
Very good explanation of the physical processes of emotions.
Sep 21, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book that gave me the insight into what psycho-physical-whole means.Damasio taught me how our neuro pathways deliver the information we are constantly receiving, to our brain, that then sorts the information and --well--- that is when we know what we know. This understanding has completely transformed my life. I love Damasio, have fantasized for years about inviting him to dinner with a small group of people to talk, laugh, trade stories. I know it would be fun because he quot ...more
Ray A.
If one must read a neuroscientist, Damasio is the one.
Sep 09, 2015 Vidor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although bringing new light to the consciousness debate, the book could be summarized in 100 pages (maximum).
Andrew Price
He's not the world's most organized writer, but this is a very enlightening account, from a neuroscientist's perspective, of how basic mechanisms that allow an organism to maintain homeostasis can be built upon for other kinds of self-monitoring and, ultimately, consciousness.
Jan 16, 2010 megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
GREAT BOOK!!! i believe it would have been helpful to read his other book (Descartes' Error) first. One needs to understand functioning of different parts of the brain (e.g. PAG, adenoids, hypocampus...etc.) to get the most out of the book and not have to constantly cross-reference.
Norman Orr
Jan 20, 2013 Norman Orr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was my introduction to Damasio. It's more difficult to read that his follow-up book about consciousness, Self Comes to Mind, but well worth reading, if for no other reason than to follow the development of his thought about a very complex topic.
Goya Champuru
Aug 26, 2007 Goya Champuru rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The case studies were good, but I couldn't really recommend this book to an ordinary reader. I didn't feel I learned that much from it and the writer's prose style lacked the clarity and logical exposition you expect from a good popular science book.
Jul 19, 2007 Jrobertus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this may be the most important book i have read about human consciousness. it is a bit demanding, but worth the effort. he gives a biological/evolutionary background for consciousness beginning with a sense of self, core consciousness and on up.
Sep 13, 2007 Ethan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Your consciousness is built from mapped representations of the body's states. Usefully distinguishes from an emotion, a hard-wired response to some stimulus, and a feeling, the brain's becoming aware of that emotion. A must-read.
Sep 20, 2012 Flan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite interesting for anyone who is intrigued by how the mind works or those who look into the body-mind connection. He introduces interesting connections between science and philosophy and psychology.
Jan 04, 2009 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, science
The second of Damasio's trilogy. This one explores the relationship between the body, emotion and human consciousness. I found it difficult to follow. It needs to be read more than once.
Jessica Bennett
I thought this would be different. Interesting information, but it was more about people with specific problems than how general emotion and consciousness works.
Dave Peticolas
Oct 08, 2014 Dave Peticolas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A neurologist's theory of consciousness. Damasio's work with patients brings a unique perspective to the problem of consciousness. Recommended.

Catherine  Mustread
Damásio is a researcher in the field of neuroscience who believes that it is through our senses and their transference into emotion that we become conscious.
Aug 30, 2011 Louis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not finished this book. English is a second language for me and this book is not an easy read. I may try to read the french translation of it one day...
Laura Grabowski
I wasn't as enthralled with this volume as I was with Descartes' Error, but it is still very interesting and a thought-provoking read.
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  • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
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  • The Emerging Mind: Reith lectures 2003
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  • Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong
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Damásio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School in Portugal, where he also did his medical residency rotation and completed his doctorate. Later, he moved to the United States as a research fellow at the Aphasia Research Center in Boston. His work there on behavioral neurology was done under the supervision of Norman Geschwind.

As a researcher, Dr. Damásio's main interest is the
More about Antonio R. Damasio...

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“...I sense that stepping into the light is also a powerful metaphor for consciousness, for the birth of the knowing mind, for the simple and yet momentous coming of the sense of self into the world of the mental.” 11 likes
“We use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them. One of things the screen hides most effectively is the body, our own body, by which I mean, the ins and outs of it, its interiors. Like a veil thrown over the skin to secure its modesty, the screen partially removes from the mind the inner states of the body, those that constitute the flow of life as it wanders in the journey of each day. (p.28)” 3 likes
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