Following on from Shaun Gallagher's influential 2005 book How the Body Shapes the Mind, this volume brings together leading experts from the fields of philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry in a productive dialogue, exploring key questions and debates about the relationship between body schema and body image.
This paper seeks to describe and analyze the traumatic experience through an examination of the sense of agency—the sense of controlling one’s body, and sense of ownership—the sense that it is my body that undergoes experiences. It appears that there exist two levels of traumatic experience: on the first level one loses the sense of agency but retains the sense of ownership, whilst on the second one loses both of these, with symptoms becoming progressively more severe. A comparison of the (...) traumatic experience with various modulations of the senses of agency and ownership, from cases involving prostheses to tools requiring greater or lesser extents of control, suggests that the harsher the traumatic event, the greater the damage is to the sense of ownership, resulting in the increasing sense of the body as a tool rather than an original organism. Likewise, the long-term ramifications become more severe according to the significance of the damage to the sense of ownership. (shrink)
War captivity is an extreme traumatic experience typically involving exposure to repeated stressors, including torture, isolation, and humiliation. Captives are flung from their previous known world into an unfamiliar reality in which their state of consciousness may undergo significant change. In the present study extensive interviews were conducted with fifteen Israeli former prisoners of war who fell captive during the 1973 Yom Kippur war with the goal of examining the architecture of human thought in subjects lacking a sense of body (...) (disembodiment) as a result of confinement and isolation. Analysis of the interviews revealed that threats to a normal sense of body often lead to a loss of the sense of time as an objective dimension. Evidence suggests that the loss of the sense of body and the loss of the sense of time are in fact connected; that is, they collapse together. This breakdown in turn results in a collapse of the sense of self. (shrink)
Dissociation during trauma lacks an adequate definition. Using data obtained from interviews with 36 posttraumatic individuals conducted according to the phenomenological approach, this paper seeks to improve our understanding of this phenomenon. In particular, it suggesting a trade off model depicting the balance between the sense of agency and the sense of ownership : a reciprocal relationship appears to exist between these two, and in order to enable control of the body during trauma the sense of ownership must decrease. When (...) the relationship between the sense of agency and sense of ownership changes disproportionately to the constraints of the traumatic event, the dissociative mechanism becomes dysfunctional. By contrast, when the relations alter in accordance with the surrounding conditions, the dissociative mechanism functions properly. (shrink)
Based on interviews with more than 70 survivors of traumatic events, Ataria presents a trade-off model between the sense of agency—the feeling that one has a sense of control over one’s actions—and the sense of body ownership, the sense that this is my body. According to this trade-off model, there exists a reciprocal relationship between the sense of agency and sense of body ownership: by relinquishing a degree of the sense of body ownership over his body, the subject gains an (...) sense of agency. Essentially, this trade-off enables the traumatized subject to maintain a limited sense of control during acute... (shrink)
This paper examines the experience of where we end and the rest of the world begins, that is, the sense of boundaries. Since meditators are recognized for their ability to introspect about the bodily level of experience, and in particular about their sense of boundaries, 27 senior meditators were interviewed for this study. The main conclusions of this paper are that the boundaries of the so-called “physical body” are not equivalent to the individual's sense of boundaries; the sense of boundaries (...) depends upon sensory activity; the sense of boundaries should be defined according to its level of flexibility; the sense of body ownership cannot be reduced to the sense of boundaries; nevertheless, the sense of ownership depends on the level of flexibility of the sense of boundaries. (shrink)
This paper suggests that during severe and prolonged traumatic experiences such as trauma type II, one may develop disownership toward the entire body. In this situation one’s body becomes a pure object and as such an integral part of the hostile environment. This article applies Merleau-Ponty’s approach to perception in order to improve our understanding of this process.
The traumatic experience and the meditative experience differ in many respects. For instance, it is possible to suggest that while a sense of helplessness is the most important feature of the traumatic experience, meditation does not involve a similar sense of helplessness. Furthermore, while trauma is shocking and horrifying, meditation is considered to be constructive and efficient in reducing stress and improving welfare. Yet, with this in mind, by comparing interviews with twelve senior meditators on the one hand and interviews (...) with survivors of traumatic experiences from other qualitative studies of mine on the other, this paper suggests that essentially both phenomena are rooted in the same mechanism: the collapse of the intentional structure. More precisely, in both cases, the intentional structure collapses and, as a result, the gap between Me versus Not–Me diminishes: in that case, one loses the first-personal bodily egocentric perceptive upon the world. (shrink)
Muselmannwas a term used in German concentration camps to describe prisoners near death due to exhaustion, starvation, and helplessness. This paper suggests that the inhuman conditions in the concentration camps resulted in the development of a defensive sense of disownership toward the entire body. The body, in such cases, is reduced to a pure object. However, in the case of theMuselmannthis body-as-object is felt to belong to the captors, and as such is therefore identified as a tool to inflict suffering (...) and pain on theMuselmannhimself. In this situation, lacking cognitive resources, theMuselmannmay have no other alternative than to treat his body as an enemy, and then to retreat or disinvest from the body. This response is a form of somatic apathy, an indifference that is tied to a loss of the self/non-self distinction. This may, in turn, lead to suicidal inclinations, even after liberation from the camp. (shrink)
Although not identical, this article suggests that complex posttraumatic stress disorder, depersonalization and schizophrenia share at least one feature: in all these cases, the body becomes a defective tool, an IT. In turn, those suffering from them can no longer be-in-the-world through the living body but rather experience their body as an object; they manage their lives on the level of body image.The next section outlines some cognitive and phenomenological concepts such as body schema, body image, body-as-subject and body-as-object. Thereafter, (...) the article explores the phenomenology of C-PTSD, depersonalization, and schizophrenia, finally suggesting that in each of these cases the body... (shrink)
This paper describes the phenomenology of the prisoner in the Gulag. In this extreme situation, the prisoner is reduced to the body-as-an-object and, as a result, develops a strong sense of hostility towards the body. In cognitive terms, this mechanism can be defined as body-disownership.
Body image and body schema refer to two different yet closely related systems. Whereas BI can be defined as a system of perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs pertaining to one's own body, BS is a system of sensory-motor capacities that functions without awareness or the necessity of perceptual monitoring. Studies have demonstrated that applying the concepts of BI and BS enables us to conceptualize complex pathological phenomena such as anorexia, schizophrenia, and depersonalization. Likewise, it has further been argued that these concepts (...) play a crucial role in our ability to grasp our bodily experiences in the socio-cultural world according to various factors, such as gender, social class, and ethnicity. Referring to the insights of Frantz Fanon, the author of Black Skin, White Masks, this paper suggests that under certain conditions the BI can take over and reshape the BS. Based on an examination of Fanon’s writings, the paper suggests that not only the BI can truly remold the BS but that the gaze of the other can directly influence the BI. (shrink)
The sense of helplessness stands at the very core of the traumatic experience. This paper suggests that a sense of helplessness arises when, despite the functioning of the cognitive system and awareness of circumstances and feelings, an individual is unable to access practical knowledge. As a result, the subject becomes a victim of one’s own inability to perform, or act, in the real world.
The natural sciences seek to explain all natural phenomena, including human beings. This lofty objective encompasses the scientific project in all its glory, within which brain science constitutes an integral part. Essentially, however, neuroscientists not only seek to achieve a greater understanding of how the human brain works but rather, and perhaps mainly, aspire to understand human consciousness, that is, the subjective experience. According to this approach, consciousness is merely brain activity, and thus any progress in the study of the (...) brain represents an advance in the study of consciousness. Yet, despite the many and impressive neuroscientific achievements, when it comes to understanding human consciousness, this discipline cannot deliver the goods. This ongoing failure, so it will be suggested, arouses uncanny anxiety, largely because consciousness is the only phenomenon in which we have complete confidence. The present article suggests that in order to advance our understanding of the subjective experience, we must focus on how the body is thrown into the world in the here-and-now. (shrink)
This paper argues that severe and ongoing trauma (SOT) can lead to impairment at the level of the minimal self (MS), which is the core element in the structure of subjectivity. In the long-term, such impairments can result in complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and schizophrenia. The paper tackles this issue while trying to create meaningful bridges between phenomenology and neuroscience.
In Ender's Game and Philosophy: Genocide is Child's Play, twenty-eight philosophers explore the fascinating issues raised in Orson Scott Card's popular and controversial novel Ender's Game, and its sequels, which have been discovered and rediscovered by generations of fans. Card's stories highlight the violence and cruelty of children, the role of empathy and failure of communication in war, the military manipulation of people by disinformation, and the balance of individual dignity with the social good.