Apr 14 2013

Analysis of a Passage from Aleksandra Rogowska’s “Categorization of Synesthesia” (Research Project)

Published by at 11:40 pm under Uncategorized

In “Categorization of Synesthesia,” an article from the Review of General Psychology, Aleksandra Rogowska writes, “Acquired synaesthesia or postaccidental synaesthesia occurs independently and unwittingly during adulthood as a result of biochemical brain changes, neurological dysfunctions, or permanent damage done to the nerve as a result of accident or disease (such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, or migraines; Jacome, 1999; Podoll & Robinson, 2002; Rao, Nobre, Alexander, & Ceowy, 2007; Ro et al., 2007; Villemure, Wassimi, Bennett, Shir, & Bushnell, 2006)…The phenomenon of synaesthesia becomes constantly present in perceptual processes from the very moment of its first occurrence” (215).

In other words, Rogowska explains that  changes in the brain during adulthood can result in permanent synesthesia. Thus, according to this explanation–and an understanding that stresses can alter the brain, which Margaret E. Kemeny explains in her article “The Psychobiology of Stress” (128)–the phenomenon of synesthesia may come about as a result of social stresses that cause biochemical/neurological change. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” it is possible that the protagonist’s synesthesia has developed “independently and unwittingly” as a result of her social situation, which is comprised almost exclusively of her husband.  This form of synesthesia might explain the protagonist’s seemingly spontaneous symptoms of hallucination. And it would also fit well with literary criticism that explains “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a story about women’s struggle against oppressive patriarchy.

Works Cited

Kemeny, Margaret E. “The Psychobiology of Stress.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 12.4 (2003): 124-29. JSTOR. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.

Rogowska, Aleksandra. “Categorization of Synesthesia.” Review of General Psychology 15.3 (2011): 213-27. PsycARTICLES. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Analysis of a Passage from Aleksandra Rogowska’s “Categorization of Synesthesia” (Research Project)”

  1.   Jason Tougawon 15 Apr 2013 at 12:45 pm

    In the introduction to the anthology Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies, Zunshine makes the point that cognitive approaches do not contradict cultural ones, as is sometimes suggested (by Marco Roth, for example). Instead, she argues, they can complement and even reinforce cultural readings. You might want to quote her to help you make the connection between synesthesia (a cognitive phenomenon) and feminism (a cultural phenomenon). The introduction is on our “Readings” page.

  2.   Jason Tougawon 15 Apr 2013 at 12:45 pm

    The title of that introduction is “What Is Cognitive Cultural Studies?”

  3.   Christopher Vitaleon 23 Apr 2013 at 12:59 am

    The suggestion that stress can cause permanent synaesthesia in adults is easily one of the most fascinating things I have heard thus far in this class. I think that the phenomenon itself is troubling enough because of its difficulty to truly grasp, but the fact that stress plays a role in its onset is enough to make one uneasy. Being that I have read “The Yellow Wallpaper”, I think that what you are doing is brilliant. It takes the text to an entirely new level. Thinking about synaesthesia when re-reading the work, I was much more attuned to the imagery and sensory experience being explored.

  4.   Ariel Shapiroon 23 Apr 2013 at 3:02 am

    Can you imagine if all of a sudden your brain started to process the world in a different way for instance by exhibiting synesthetic abilities? I literally can’t imagine it… Anyway I think it is awesome how you merged the two sources into one coherent part of an argument seamlessly. Although the jump from one sources to the other was quick you guided the reader through both texts as to prevent confusion. Poor protagonist in “The Yellow Wallpaper” 🙁

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