Human Studies

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 159–178 | Cite as

Consciousness-Body-Time: How Do People Think Lacking Their Body?

  • Yochai Ataria
  • Yuval Neria
Empirical Study/Analysis


War captivity is an extreme traumatic experience typically involving exposure to repeated stressors, including torture, isolation, and humiliation. Captives are flung from their previous known world into an unfamiliar reality in which their state of consciousness may undergo significant change. In the present study extensive interviews were conducted with fifteen Israeli former prisoners of war who fell captive during the 1973 Yom Kippur war with the goal of examining the architecture of human thought in subjects lacking a sense of body (disembodiment) as a result of confinement and isolation. Analysis of the interviews revealed that threats to a normal sense of body often lead to a loss of the sense of time as an objective dimension. Evidence suggests that the loss of the sense of body and the loss of the sense of time are in fact connected; that is, they collapse together. This breakdown in turn results in a collapse of the sense of self.


Altered states of consciousness Sense of self Phenomenal body Time Disembodiment Prisoner of war (POW) 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Program for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of ScienceThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia University and the New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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