Raphaël Millière, PhD Candidate
University of Oxford
The Sense of Body Ownership in Drug-Induced States
We are aware that our bodies are our own insofar as we can judge them to be so. But is this awareness manifested in a more basic way than judgements? Do we constantly experience our bodies as our own? This question is at the centre of an ongoing debate in philosophy and psychology. Some authors think that ordinary experience involves a sense of body ownership (an experience of one’s body as one’s own), while others deny that we ever have such experience. Existing arguments in favour of the existence of a sense of body ownership rely on controversial evidence from the rubber hand illusion and somatoparaphrenia.
In this presentation, I will argue that drug-induced states offer independent evidence for the existence of a sense of body ownership in ordinary experience. Indeed, a number of psychoactive drugs – first and foremost psychedelics – seem to disrupt bodily awareness in a way that is best interpreted as a loss of the sense of body ownership. After discussing previous evidence of this phenomenon, I will present new evidence from a recent placebo-controlled study of the effects of DMT in which I obtained detailed subjective reports from semi-structured interviews. I will argue on the basis of these reports that DMT may disrupt the sense of body ownership present in ordinary experience. Beyond debates about body ownership, I will argue that such results are a step in the right direction to disambiguate the polysemous notion of “drug-induced ego dissolution”.
Raphaël Millière is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. His philosophical interests lie mainly within the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of cognitive science. In his doctoral thesis and in recent publications, he investigates the notion of self-consciousness in light of empirical evidence from conditions in which different forms of self-consciousness are disrupted (including drug-induced states).