As long as the brain is hard-wired the inoperative state of a sensory area can be perceived as inadequacy in the perception of reality. Supposedly, the lost sensory input produces an indistinct feeling of insufficiency in the corresponding sphere.
The loss of receptors induces a psychological complex[i] similar to that induced by the loss of a body part whose central theme is the lost sensitivity. The feeling of insufficiency is a state of anxiety that cannot be pacified in a natural way because the necessitated structure is removed. It can only be over-ridden by or redirected to other compensatory activities and sensations.
The removal of receptors causes certain deficiency and induces activities that aim to make up for the lost sensitivity. The activities that are a substitute for a deficiency are known in psychology as compensations.[ii] In time the feeling of insufficiency is diverted, redirected, diluted and canalized into the compensatory activities due to plasticity of the brain. The cortical reorganization following the removal of receptors is the physical basis of the compensations for the psychological complex caused by their loss.
- An example of a psychological complex triggered by a sensory deficit. With his nose blocked, one still can make up for the missing smell of the food by tasting it. Sharpening the sense of taste compensates for the reduced sense of smell. Loss of olfaction could inspire one to become a refined tester obsessed with degustation in the attempt to overcome the insufficiency. But the original use of food is lost on him. No matter how much he eats, something deep inside him remains starving. With the progress of the cortical reorganization he could even feel he actually smells the food. In such as case he has developed a typical synesthesia. → Back