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The Illusion of Conscious Will$
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Daniel M. Wegner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262534925

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262534925.001.0001

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An Analysis of Automatism

An Analysis of Automatism

The experience of will can be reduced to very low levels under certain conditions, even for actions that are voluntary, purposive, and complex—and what remains is automatism.

(p.93) 4 An Analysis of Automatism
The Illusion of Conscious Will
Daniel M. Wegner
The MIT Press

This chapter illustrates how automatisms involve the lack of the feeling of doing an action but may even go beyond this to include a distinct feeling that the person is not doing. The loss of perceived voluntariness is so remarkable during an automatism that the person may vehemently resist describing the action as consciously or personally caused. It seems to come from somewhere else or at least not from oneself. This experience is so curious that automatisms often are noteworthy events in themselves rather than just unnoticed lapses in conscious willing. The chapter examines the key features of behavior settings that promote the occurrence of automatisms, and points to the ways in which the lack of perceptions of priority, consistency, and exclusivity underlie lapses in the experience of conscious will.

Keywords:   automatisms, action, perceived voluntariness, conscious willing, priority, consistency, exclusivity

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