New Introductory lecture: The working relationship between brain and body
The body is neither the origin, nor the end point of self-knowledge - it is part of a continual feedback loop, that connects us to ourselves, and our social and physical environment. The more we learn about the organisation of the brain, the more we can appreciate how we think through the body: the systems of self-regulation, of automatic subliminal resonance with and reading of others bodies, and the way this information overlaps with the multiple, fluid composite maps of our own states. Advanced research on different functions of brain regions can give us a new perspective on the dynamics of subjectivity and intersubjectivity.
This is a new introductory lecture to the seminar series ˜The New Anatomy:
Exploring the Mind in the Body. Booking details, see here
Date: Fri. 27 November 2009 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Chiron Centre
, 26 Eaton Rise, London W5 6ER Fee: £ 50
A seminar series on Exploring the Mind in the Body
Fridays from 6.30pm - 9.30pm, once a month January-June 2010
at 26 Eaton Rise, London W5 6ER,
Fee: £ 50 per evening.
For booking details see Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy
or call 0208 997 5219
We are living
in exciting times. Radical breakthroughs in grasping the complex
physiological basis of mind are emerging. For this seminar, I
have drawn on body psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, holistic theories
and recent neuroscientific research. We will explore both ‘hard’
facts and ‘soft’ processes to deepen our understanding
of the body. Each evening will focus on the psychological function
of a different body system through experiential exercises, theoretical
input and discussion generated by the different perspectives of
Seminar 1: Development
Date: Fri. 15 January 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Seminar 2: Bones
Date: Fri. 12 February 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Seminar 3: Muscle
Date: Fri. 12 March 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Seminar 4: Fluids
Date: Fri. 16 April 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Seminar 5: The Senses and the Skin
Date: Fri. 14 May 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Seminar 6: The Nervous System
Date: Fri. 18 June 2010 Times: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Neuroscience, psychoanalysis and body psychotherapy all agree
that patterns laid down in utero, infancy and childhood carry
on into adulthood in the form of personality and its embodiment
in physiological structure. This seminar provides an overview
and introduction to the major themes of the course.
The skeleton is our framework. It mediates our relationship to
gravity, a constant force affecting our lives. It effects and
is a reflection of our capacity to co-ordinate, balance, and articulate
in spatial, perceptual and
conceptual fields. It contributes to the organisation of our thinking.
Muscle enables us to act and react, to reveal or inhibit. Muscle
is the convergence zone for habits, skills, and emotional learning,
in other words, conscious and unconscious intention. Patterns
and textures in muscle tone embody conflicts and resources which
tell the unique story of an individual.
Blood, lymph, and cellular fluid are the stream which carries
our feelings through the body. The quality and intensity of our
feelings depends both on the biochemical content of fluids (hormones,
peptides, antibodies) and how connective tissue encysts, contains
or disperses the fluids.
5: The Senses, and the Skin
Via the senses and the skin we have contact with the world around
us. How we transform, are nourished by, block or distort the world
is intimately related to how we use our senses and our skin. The
senses are dynamic and the interplay between them can create or
reduce our sense of ‘depth of field’ in life.
6: The Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system, a key link between the internal
organs and the brain, determines changes in arousal/relaxation
and where energy is directed in the body. It articulates patterns
relating to survival in both the short-term (flight, denial, aggression
etc) and the long-term (processing, absorption, releasing).
List & Syllabus
Historically, there has been a separation between the study of
development in biology (reproduction, birth, and the growth of
the child), psychology (attachment theory, and separation-individuation)
and psychoanalysis (oral, anal and genital stages).
They have all implied linear progression and focussed on relatively
isolated aspects of the total process of development.
The handouts introduce
a variety of contemporary perspectives which offer more holistic
integrative models. Some are not easy pieces to read if you are
unfamiliar with the terminology but the important theme to grasp
is the interrelatedness of physiological and psychological development.
There are a variety of ways to explore the impact of mother and
baby on each other, as well as the effect of other people and
aspects of the physical environment on the baby.
1. The chaos model
which highlights the importance of ‘critical’ and
‘sensitive’ periods of development, and stresses the
interaction between the organism (the baby) and the environment
(mother & other key figures). Development is seen as a process
of increasing levels of organisation and complexity. (Scharff,
2. The embodied model
details the somatic patterns and physiological systems which are
an intrinsic part of psychological maturation. (Grohman, Hartley)
There will be some
experiential exploration of developmental movement patterns and
their implications for psychological states. Your experience of
babies and children will be a useful reference. We will look at
photos to contemplate the qualities each child is embodying –
you are welcome to bring 3-4 photos of your own for discussion.
Bones are the deepest
layer of the body. Mistakenly they are often associated with the
inert. In fact bones are vital processors and protectors. The
skeleton provides a structure for orientation, co-ordination and
articulation in spatial, perceptual, relational and conceptual
The skeletal system
has not yet been considered as a subject of study by neuroscience
or (as far as I’m aware) psychoanalysis. However Johnson’s
work on the body foundation of image schemata which underpin our
thinking provides a rigorous contemporary framework to integrates
with the understanding of bone in the traditions of body psychotherapy
1.The nature of bone
as a container - structure, stablizer; deep internal support.
2.Bones in their role
of absorbing physiological and psychological shock
3. Image schemata derived
from the skeletal structure – articulation, relationship,
4. Reflexes –
orientation in space, grounding, centring, lines of intention
5. Ego/self –
neurotic and psychotic defences in organisation of skeleton
Seminar 3: The Muscular system
1. Muscle and development
Muscle is the fundamental structuring, mediating, enabling tissue
in the body.
The child’s muscle is developed through contact with the
world, and in relation to space and objects, including people.
Like the ego (conceived in psychoanalysis as a mental structure)
it reflects the individual’s history, and their way of adjusting
to the external world. Muscles are the structure through which
repression and expression, defence and resource, are embodied.
2. Movement as Cognition
We will look at proprioception, metabolism, sensory-motor integration
in their psychological and physiological aspects.
3. The Motoric Ego
Parallel responses of ego and muscle.
Intention, will and agency at the crossroads with the unconscious.
Conflict & tension.
Body image, identity and identification
Seminar Four: The Fluid System
the ‘chemical’ or wet brain. The neurosendocrine system
is older, slower acting (than the central nervous system), and
highly distributed in its function. Endocrine glands are situated
throughout the brain and the body, with a high concentration of
production in the belly (hence the name ‘the enteric brain)
Hormones, neurotransmitters and peptides are transported throughout
the body via the fluids influencing mood and behaviour. (see Pert)
The fluid system embodies
the dynamic shifts in feeling, the ebbs and flows of desire, rage,
fear, sadness, mediated..If muscle and bone inform the structure
of our perception, the fluids in their singular and complex combinations,
provide the colour, the affective tone.
All the fluids in the
body are essentially one fluid – largely made up of water
– that changes properties and characteristics as it passes
through different membranes, flows through different channels
and interacts with different substances. The characteristics of
each fluid system relate to a different quality of movement, touch,
voice, and state of mind:
Blood – weight, earth, heart-felt, full.
Lymph – clarity, boundary, defence.
Interstitial fluid – vitality, strength, sensuousness
Cellular fluid – presence, being, rest.
Synovial fluid – loose, rebounding, carefree
Cranio-sacral fluid – lightness, spatiousness (see Cohe,
Connective tissue is
the main fluid structure. Tension within the cell membrane influences
the local qualities of the tissue. Build up, containment, dispersal,
or drying of fluids reflects the individual’s patterns and
capacities with relation to their own feelings. (see Juhan, Boyesen)
Five: The Skin and the senses
The skin as the surface of the brain, and touch as the mother
of the senses. Tactile feedback is vital in organising the brain,
acting as nourishment. (see Juhan) Touch receptors are dominant
for information gathering in the first months. The infant’s
integrated sense of its own skin has been correlated with the
initiation of a sense of boundary and a rudimentary ego.
The senses are interrelated
and work in concert – the synthesis of the sensory modalities
gives depth and vividness to our experience of the world. ‘Synaesthesia’
is the term for the cross-modal working together of the senses.
(see Abram) Working in concert they give us holographic consciousness.
But like the other systems, the sensory organs can become armoured,
inhibited in their function and thus distort perception..
The order of emergence,
development and dominance of senses is complex. This reflects
different survival priorities in our orientation to the world.
For example, the very first nerves to myelinate are the vestibular
nerves which help us distinguish our own movement in relationship
to our environment.In early development, vision and movement are
strongly linked. At birth, smell is the first sense to be strongly
activated, helping the baby bond with mother’s milk.
Polyvagal theory (see
Trevarthen handout) describes the social engagement system, a
revised version of the role of the autonomic nervous system. Here
the senses are utilised and engaged dynamically in relationship.
Facial expression (looking and listening) is linked directly with
regulation of the viscera, heart and lungs.
There will be plenty
of course hand-outs sent to you by mid-January to begin looking at the
material. My hope is that each participant will bring their own experience and
knowledge of a particular aspect of how the mind is embodied. The course is
intended to be a mixture of teaching new concepts – particularly new models
from neuroscience, relational psychoanalysis, body psychotherapy and holistic
theory – with experiential work and discussion in the group.
The Primary Reading
list suggests texts from the main fields of thinking. There will be photocopies
of specific excerpts available for each of the evenings, as well as original
material produced for this course. The Secondary List has just some of the
background theory, but obviously there are a huge range of relevant books. I
have kept to fairly recent books mostly those written in the last decade
because there has been significant advances in theory. We will explore the new
paradigm – a product of new science and interdisciplinary thinking – rather than
cover centuries of mind-body philosophy. Its emphasis is very integrative,
constantly bringing together depth models of the psyche (eg from
psychoanalysis) with the holistic working of the human body.
Read for pleasure and
interest – the value of the course does not depend on having read lots books,
but on engaging with the ideas and experiences.
Descartes Error:Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (Putnam, 1994)
Bainbridge Sensing, Feeling and Action:The Experiential Anatomy of Body-Mind
Centering (Contact Editions, 1993)
Hartley, Linda The
Wisdom of the Body Moving (N.Atlantic Books, 1994)
Juhan, Deane J ob’s
Body: A Handbook for Bodywork (Station Hill, 1987)
Pallly, R. (2000) The
Mind-Brain Relationship (Karnac,London)
Totton, Nick The
Water in the Glass – Body and Mind in Psychoanalysis (Rebus Press, London,
Schore, Allan N.
Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self : the Neurobiology of Emotional
Development (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994)
S (2004) Body-Mind Psychotherapy:
Principles, Techniques and Practical Applications (New York: Norton)
Boadella, D. (1987) Lifestreams: An Introduction to Biosynthesis (Routledge, London)
Boadella, D. (1997)‘
Awakening sensibility, recovering motility: psycho-physical synthesis at the
foundation of body psychotherapy: the 100 year legacy of Pierre Janet
(1859-1947) in International Journal of
Psychotherapy, vol 2, no.2
(2008). The role of bodily experience in
emotional organization: New perspectives
on the multiple code theory. In F. S.
Anderson (Ed.). Bodies in Treatment. (pp. 51-76). New York, NY: The Analytic Press.
Capra, F. (1996) The Web of Life: A New Understanding of
Living Systems (Anchor Books, New York)
Corrigall, J., H.
Payne, & H. Wilkinson (Eds.). About a body. Working with the embodied mind in
33-49). London: Routledge.
Cozolino, L (2006)The neuroscience of human relationships:attachment and the developing
social brain New York : Norton
Damasio, A. (1999) The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion
and the Making of Consciousness (Heineman, London)
Frank, R (2001) Body of
Awareness: a somatic and developmental approach to psychotherapy Cambride,
Massachusetts: Gestalt press
Gallagher, S. (2005) How the body shapes the mind Oxford University Press
Hartley, L (2008) Contemporary Body Psychotherapy: The Chiron
Approach Routledge: London
Kapit, W. (1987) The Physiology Colouring Book (Harper
Collines, New York)
Kapit, W. (1977) The Anatomy Colouring Book (Harper
Collines, New York)
Mindell, A (1989) Rivers Way: The Process Science of the
Dreambody (London, Arkana)
Moore, M. S, (1998)
‘How can we remember but be unable to recall? The complex functions of
multi-modular memory’ in ed. Sinason, V. Memory
in Dispute (Karnac)
Olsen, A (1991) BodyStories: An Experiential Anatomy (Station Hill Press, New York)
K.Minton, & C.Pain (2006) Trauma and
the Body: a sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy (Norton: New York)
Panksepp, J (1998) Affective Neuroscience: The foundations of
human and animal emotions (Oxford University Press)
Rothschild, B (2000) The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of
Trauma and Trauma Treatment (Norton, London)
Sardar, S &I.
Abrams (1998) Introducing Chaos (Icon,Duxford)
Staunton , T (ed)
(2002) Advances in Body Psychotherapy (Routledge)
Trevarthen, C &
Aitken, K.J. (2001) ‘Infant Intersubjectivity: research, theory and clinical
application’ Journal of Child Psychology
and Psychiatry vol 42, no 1 pp3-48
These represent various stages in my developing the material for
The New Anatomy. They were written as lectures and public talks
for a variety of different audiences. In these seminars I will
be drawing on and developing this material but there will also
be an emphasis on experiential learning and group discussion.
Nervous System: barometer of intensity and internal conflict’
‘The Motoric (Muscular)
‘Is the Body Ego
more than Skin deep?’