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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  3,581 ratings  ·  87 reviews
The publication of this book is an event in the making. All over the world scientists, psychologists, and philosophers are waiting to read Antonio Damasio's new theory of the nature of consciousness and the construction of the self. A renowned and revered scientist and clinician, Damasio has spent decades following amnesiacs down hospital corridors, waiting for comatose pa ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1999)
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Manuel Antão
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2000
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Universal Machine: "The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness" by António R. Damásio

(Original Review, 2000-10-15)

I don't agree that it is as big mystery as pointed out elsewhere in another review I’ve read...I think we do know a great deal about consciousness. The problem lays also in our willingness to explore altered states of consciousness. This must be included in any theory...Some examples of boo
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, António R. Damásio
There have been many ambitious and important books on the problem of consciousness in the past few years. None has quite the philosophical sophistication and neurophysical knowledge of this one. One of the world's leading experts on the neurophysiology of emotion, professor Damasio shows how our consciousness developed out of the development of emotion brilliantly wide ranging, with fascinating case-s
Joshua Stein
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind, philosophy, 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
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Nov 15, 2011 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, it is 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 di ...more
John Turlockton
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Definitely not for a general audience, he regularly talks about things like parabrachial network or thalamic nuclei without explaining it. At the end there's an appendix where he goes through all the terms he was using throughout the book. I didn't see that part so completely missed it and had to just try figure it out based on what I already knew about the brain structure. Who would explain all the technical terms at the end of a book?

Despite not explaining those things properly, he manages to
Samir Rawas Sarayji
There are interesting aspects to this book that I, as a non-scientist, enjoyed. The focus on the neurological to explain consciousness is the paramount focus, and it’s a new way of looking at the subject of consciousness for me. The material requires concentrated reading particularly because of the new jargon (proto-self, extended consciousness, and other scientific jargon), but mostly because Damasio uses an academic register to argue much of his ideas. This is where I became a bit confused, is ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Michael Vagnetti
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nancy Mills
I'm still slogging through this. the chapter on the Neurology of Consciousness begs my comments. .. Damasio refers to the locked in syndrome, wherein a patient is conscious but appears to be vegetative and for years aware of everything that goes on around them but unable to communicate at all. In the more recently published book, Into the Gray Zone, author Adrian Owen describes his difficult but often successful work in communicating with these people, using mris and eegs. great book. don't know ...more
Jennifer 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 requiring s ...more
Kramer Thompson
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Many other reviewers here are saying that Damasio is a great writer, but I definitely did not have that thought while reading The Feeling of What Happens. I think that Damasio's argument throughout the book is quite interesting and elucidating, but to me it seemed that Damasio was often sloppy with his terminology, would not adequately distinguish his terminology, or would speak intentionally poetically to try to enhance the beauty of some conception of consciousness (or some related phenomenon) ...more
Awinash Jha
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have read now the fourth one of Antonio's book and know for sure that one of the best book to read if you are looking for answers on thoughts , feelings , emotions and consciousness. The best part ,it clearly states that knowing and experiencing are not the same thing . So even after reading this book you don't have the feeling of experience , pl. don't blame the book it's the design of our hardwiring. Nevertheless the feeling of knowing is serene. Though the book deals with neural structure a ...more
Claudia Reinfelds
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"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
Maha Shangab
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be it the first book I've read about consciousness, I don't think I could have chosen a better gate opener to such a study.
I admired the philosophical approach into consciousness and the neurobiological correlations seen by evidences in research. It still is however, a more theorizing and less analyzing review of consciousness, something the author doesn't shy from stating, but it does provoke questions that keeps the mind pondering over and eager to search about
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
A scientific discussion of what many intuitively presume to be true: that our consciousness and cognition are inextricably linked to our emotions--that when the emotional responses fail to function, logic and cognition are impaired as well. Illustrated by plenty of case studies that make the connection clear.
Alexi Parizeau
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
i loved the client examples, but the rest of the time i had no clue what the author was talking about. i was hoping for something more digestible to the laywoman-- because i do work with severely mentally ill people, but this did not help me much. i am envious of those who read, understand and liked this book.
Jul 19, 2007 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.
May 09, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
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. ...more
Ryan Johnson
This book had many amazing case studies and highlights, along with some brilliant hypothesis but ultimately I was far beyond my intelligence level. The pages of Neuro-biology and things of that nature were a struggle to read and understand, probably why it took so long to finish this book.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jan 11, 2009 marked it as to-read
Another recommendation from Bessel van der Kolk.
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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

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