Intended for healthcare professionals


Consciousness: a surprising encounter

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1017
  1. John Spencer (, consultant psychiatrist
  1. NSW Health Services, Kangaroo Valley, NSW, Australia

    Consciousness is an elusive phenomenon referring to the totality of one's thoughts, feelings, and impressions and to the concepts of will, volition, and mind.

    Last year, I was sailing with friends, and we moored overnight at the small Ionian island of Paxos, where we were invited to visit the local aquarium. Following a couple of old signs down a narrow street, I found a large wooden shed housing more than 40 elderly glass tanks of varying sizes, each containing a specimen of local marine life. The owner, …

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