The Image and Appearance of the Human Body: Studies in the Constructive Energies of the Psyche

The Image and Appearance of the Human Body: Studies in the Constructive Energies of the Psyche

The Image and Appearance of the Human Body: Studies in the Constructive Energies of the Psyche

The Image and Appearance of the Human Body: Studies in the Constructive Energies of the Psyche

Excerpt

The image of the human body means the picture of our own body which we form in our mind, that is to say the way in which the body appears to ourselves. There are sensations which are given to us. We see parts of the body-surface. We have tactile, thermal, pain impressions. There are sensations which come from the muscles and their sheaths, indicating the deformation of the muscle; sensations coming from the innervation of the muscles (energy sense, von Frey); and sensations coming from the viscera. Beyond that there is the immediate experience that there is a unity of the body. This unity is perceived, yet it is more than a perception. We call it a schema of our body or bodily schema, or, following Head, who emphasizes the importance of the knowledge of the position of the body, postural model of the body. The body schema is the tri-dimensional image everybody has about himself. We may call it 'body-image'. The term indicates that we are not dealing with a mere sensation or imagination. There is a self- appearance of the body. It indicates also that, although it has come through the senses, it is not a mere perception. There are mental pictures and representations involved in it, but it is not mere representation. Head writes: "But, in addition to its function as an organ of local attention, the sensory cortex is also the storeroom of past impressions. These may rise into consciousness as images, but more often, as in the case of special impressions, remain outside of central consciousness. Here they form organized models of ourselves, which may be termed 'schemata'. Such schemata modify the impressions produced by incoming sensory impulses in such a way that the final sensation of position, or of locality, rises into consciousness charged with a relation to something that has happened before. Destruction of such 'schemata' by a lesion of the cortex renders impossible all . . .

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