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Visual deprivation: Days 6 and 7
Aug 1, 2011, 12:51p - Consciousness

[For background, see my first post on the experiment. This is a rough transcript of a dictation made on day 7.]

It's T minus 11 hours. After talking to Sachin yesterday [day 6], he had a good idea to slowly introduce light back to me eyes, like starting with a candle or another single light source and then maybe add another. So I'm going to open my eyes at midnight tonight [of day 7 when this was written], which will be exactly 7 days. I'll put my contacts in and go into a dark room in our house and then ask Becca to turn on a candle or flashlight and see what happens. And then expand from there. And then go to sleep and see what happens in the morning.

We ran some errands in the evening. I got some clay and I played with it, and made a pyramid today [day 7]. I also tried to make a hollow ball, but that didn't work so well. We went to Target.

In terms of my perception I've been having more flickering with my eyes closed, and it seems to be getting more frequent. I also talked to a bunch of friends for 4 or 5 hours. Maybe when my mind is working, like when I'm talking to someone or trying to understand what someone is saying, when I'm engaged maybe that increases my chances of seeing the flickering. The flickering hallucination seems to be happening once an hour now. Much more than when it started. So the rate seems to be increasing. Maybe my brain is rewiring or reactivating or reperceiving or something.

I've been dizzy. Yesterday I ran into my door frame and it left a nice sized bump on my forehead. I have been feeling like my balance is less good than it was earlier on in the experiment, so I feel like my balance is getting worse. I've been talking about how I usually walked much farther than I actually had in familiar neighborhoods. We went for a walk and I was better able to estimate and calibrate. I think that's what was screwed up, I just wasn't well-calibrated to estimate distance based on number of steps or passage of time or something like that. So I've been getting better at that and it's been improving.

I think my sense of hearing is getting worse, not better. Either people are mumbling more, which I find hard to believe, or because I don't have the visual cues on where to attend it's hurting my audible perceptions. So I actually think my hearing is getting worse because I haven't been able to focus my attention with my vision. Since my attention is much more widely distributed I think it's harder for me to pick up on specific point sources of sound, like when someone's speaking. It's just a theory, but it does seem like my hearing has gotten worse. It definitely has not gotten better, at least for trying to understand what people say.

What else... I was telling Dave today that I've been feeling very impotent. This whole experiment has made me feel like a child. There are all these things I want to do that I can't do. I can't make dinner very well. I guess with time you get better with all of these things but at least at the moment I can't go for a run. I've been wanting to work on this new program I'm working on, I can't do that really. I can imagine that the longer this goes on the more frustrated I get, and even if my skills improve I still feel like I'd be more and more frustrated. Because I know that all I have to do is open my eyes and I'll be back to normal. And have all the capacities that I actually have. So, I feel very impotent. I feel like a child. I hated feeling like a child when I was young. I hated not being able to do. And I was so happy when I left my parents' home and went to college and now actually could do basically anything I wanted. And right now I feel like I've regressed back to a state where I can't do anything I want. I'm just dependent on Becca or other people to do simple things for me. And the more advanced things I want to do I just can't, I just can't do.

So I'm really excited for this thing to be over. I'm not sure what's going to happen to my visual perception but I'll try to record those thoughts after the experiment is over.

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