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Clapsadle 1 Kirsti Clapsadle Writing 122 (12:00-12:50) Essay 2.

1 Illusion Versus Reality Have you ever mistaken someone for another person? Or dreamt something that seemed so real that you almost believed it when you woke up? Illusions occur in our everyday lives and to say that they are not important would be unwise. Illusions often have a greater value than reality because what one believes he or she sensed is what he or she will make decisions on. When we hear something without seeing it we often think to ourselves Was that who I think it was? Or Was that in the bedroom, or the kitchen? We often question most of our senses so we can avoid any illusions of reality. These instances occur every day, so why do we (usually) have no question when we see something? Plenty of movies, for example, use this well-known human tendency in regards to relationships. In many romances, a couple will fall in love and the woman will see her loved one having dinner with another woman, or a photograph of the other woman sitting on his lap. How dare you? the woman will say. But baby, its not what it looks like, the man will reply. As most women believe that all men are liars, she wont consider him trustworthy until she has further proof because she knows what she saweven though the woman at dinner was really just his sister or the woman on his lap was a character in the play he was trying out for. What she believes she saw is the illusion of reality, not reality itself, but it is what she believes she saw that matters because it is the deciding factor in her assessment. In The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, visual illusions are what make up Dr. P.s world. Dr. P. had eyes that worked fine in recognizing obvious characteristics, and sometimes could put those characteristics to an object, but usually, the characteristics themselves

Clapsadle 2 were all that he could see (Sacks 680-92). But Dr. P. didnt only have trouble recognizing objects. He also mistook some objects for others:
He also appeared to have decided that the examination was over and started to look around for his hat. He reached out his hand and took hold of his wifes head, tried to lift it off, and put it on. He had apparently mistaken his wife for a hat! His wife looked as if she was used to such things (Sacks 682-83).

Dr. P.s wifes nonchalant attitude insinuated that these sorts of occurrences happened every day for her so Dr. P.s illusions of reality probably took up a large amount of time for him, as he would have to be constantly correcting his actions. Though these illusions are not as impeding, because Dr. P. is good enough with sounds that he can usually get by, these visual illusions are what make up everyones daily lives. Just two days ago, I was at work hanging up clothes when I thought I saw someone to my left and turned to help them. It turned out to be only another rack of clothes (and Im not kidding). I can also think back to when I was a child and I would see things in the dark that would look like monsters but when Id turn on the light, it would be only a chair with a couple of shirts stacked on top of it. These types of illusions are generally very quickly corrected, but for that moment where your illusion is reality, you feel some emotions that you would not have felt otherwise. The problem with illusions is that, because people believe that what they sense is reality, it is difficult to believe any corrections, even if their reality is false. This mentality is expressed well in The Cave, where Plato gives an example of a group of men whose reality is shadowpuppets (Plato 665-69). In pondering on if one man were to leave the cave of shadows and emerge to the light of day, Plato asks And if also one should point out to him each of the passing objects and constrain him by questions to say what it is, do you not think that he would

Clapsadle 3 be at a loss and that he would regard what he formerly saw as more real than the things now pointed out to him? (Plato 666). The respondent agrees that this is likely, as he has probably experienced similar situations. After knowing something for so long, learning something that counters what you previously knew is a difficult thing to do. It insists that your eyes lied to you at some point and it is difficult to know whether it happened with the original belief or the learned truth. When your senses contradict themselves, it often causes frustration, but more often disbelief and confusion. Take any well-known optical illusion, such as the endless staircase, or the young woman that can also be seen as an old-maid if you look through her. You know that what you are seeing is not realityits common sensebut what if you werent familiar with these purposeful illusions? If you had no idea that these images were meant to be illusions, you would be extremely confused as to what the image was really supposed to be. The illusion then becomes what really matters because it causes the discrepancies within your own thoughts. There are, of course, reasons that reality is more meaningful. Reality is the truth and if you have no sense of reality, you are deemed unfit for society, crazy. If everyone around you realizes what reality is and you do not, you are in for either a major correction, or a trip to a psychologist. The truth is essentially what matters to a group of people, but as an individual, whatever you perceive to be true is what matters. There are many cases in which other people will perceive the truth but an individual perceives something different. Eating disorders, for example, often start with an illusion. Anorexia nervosa frequently begins with a girl looking in the mirror and thinking Im too fat. Usually, this thought results in dieting or working out to normal extents (i.e. still eating enough to get your nutrients and proteins, and not working out constantly). Occasionally, however,

Clapsadle 4 when a person finds this Im too fat thought to be overwhelming, she will over-diet, and overexert herself with working out. Sometimes she will even purge. WebMD describes anorexia nervosa as both a mental and physical disorder:
Anorexia affects both the body and the mind. It may start as dieting but it gets out of control. You think about food, dieting, and weight all the time. You have a distorted body image. Other people say you are too thin, but when you look in the mirror you see a fat person (Anorexia Nervosa Topic Overview).

An anorexic person has a distorted body image (Anorexia Nervosa Topic Overview). That means that what he/she sees is not actuality, but it is more important than what is real, because what the anorexic person sees is what he/she will act on. Dreams are another illusory object. When we wake up from a dream, we usually realize it is a dream, but we often still feel the emotions that we would if the dream were reality. So even if we are in touch with reality, we are still affected by these illusions. Reality, while important, is not what makes up a persons life. Illusions are surrounding usthey make up our lives. What our senses tell us to believe is generally what we will believe. Even if we do not believe it, it still affects us because, as with dreams, we often feel the emotions as if it were real. As most people use emotions to make decisions, illusions have a greater value than reality.

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Works Cited "Anorexia Nervosa - Topic Overview." WebMD - Better Information. Better Health. WebMD LLC, 16 Sept. 2009. Web. 03 Nov. 2010. <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/anorexianervosa/anorexia-nervosa-topic-overview>. Plato. "The Cave." 1961. Fields of Reading. Ninth ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. 665-69. Print. Sacks, Oliver. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." 1986. Fields of Reading. Ninth ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. 680-91. Print.