Bodymind is a compound conjunction of body and mind, which, in the New Age disciplines of humanistic psychology and spirituality, researchers in the second half of the twentieth century had begun studying in order to move beyond the dualist conceptions of body and mind towards a unified and interrelated concept of a bodymind.

Dualistic conceptEdit

Perhaps the leading exponent of an earlier dualistic theory of body and mind was Rene Descartes who established as his deepest and most lasting philosophical legacy the thesis that mind and body are really distinct—a thesis still called "mind-body dualism". He established that he had a mind without needing to assume that he had a body. He reached this conclusion by arguing that the nature of the mind (that is, a thinking, non-extended thing) is completely different from that of the body (that is, an extended, non-thinking thing), and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other. Descartes offers two versions to support his thesis, firstly:

  1. I have a clear and distinct idea of the mind as a thinking, non-extended thing.
  2. I have a clear and distinct idea of body as an extended, non-thinking thing.
  3. Therefore, the mind is really distinct from the body and can exist without it.

And in a second argument:

  1. I understand the mind to be indivisible by its very nature.
  2. I understand body to be divisible by its very nature.
  3. Therefore, the mind is completely different from the body.

These arguments give rise to the famous problem of mind-body causal interaction still debated today[1]: how can the mind cause some of our bodily limbs to move (for example, raising one's hand to strike something), and how can the body’s sense organs cause sensations in the mind when their natures are completely different?

Interrelated conceptsEdit

The present day understanding of bodymind both in a psychological, therapeutic as well as in a medical sense is that:

  • The body, mind, emotions and spirit are dynamically interrelated. [2]
  • Each time a change is introduced at one level, it has a ripple effect throughout the entire system.

Bodymind therapy combines the strengths of "talk" therapy with bodywork, such as touch, postural alignment, or movement education and exercise to increase body awareness, also known as mind-body or somatic therapy. It helps people become deeply aware of their bodily sensations as well as their emotions, images and behavior. Clients become more conscious of how they breathe, move, speak, and where they experience feelings in their bodies.

The body holds all experience, including physical stress, emotional injury as well as delights and exuberant experiences, stored in the body cells which informs and directs here and now responses to life events through the stored pattern of expectations and "rules about reality" acquired so far. In a bodymind therapy process, clients can become aware of and choose to change patterns of expectation and limitation that are more difficult to connect with so directly on the level of focusing on the mind alone. Unacknowledged feelings from past experiences are stored in the body and then unconsciously have a powerful effect on who you are, how you behave, and how you feel about yourself. Using the body as the gateway to awareness, buried feelings and memories can surface, freeing from old patterns and energy blocks that keep us feeling stuck and unable to live life to its fullest. Our mind may avoid certain emotions and memories, but our body remembers it all.

Bodymind therapy is a psychotherapeutic process that works on the relationship between the body and the emotional processes of the client, and is intended to address deep-seated and old patterns of relating to self and other, that are not easily accessible to change through talk therapy alone.

Other unified conceptsEdit

Herbert Benson, MD, has pioneered bodymind research, focusing on stress and the "relaxation response" in medicine. In his research, the mind and body are one system, in which meditation plays a significant role in reducing stress responses (Benson 1972).

John Money developed a conception of 'bodymind' as a way for scientists, in developing a science about sexuality, to move on from the platitudes of dichotomy between nature versus nurture, innate versus acquired, biological versus social, and psychological versus physiological[3], both for science and in gender and sexuality studies. He suggests that all of these capitalize on the ancient, pre-Platonic, pre-biblical conception of body versus mind, and physical versus spiritual. In coining the term bodymind, in this sense, Money wishes to move beyond these very ingrained principles of our folk or vernacular psychology, in understanding sexuality, and aspects of humanness.

Money suggests that the concept of threshold—relating to the release or inhibition of sexual behavior—is most useful for sex research as a substitute for any concept of motivation.[4] It confers a great of advantage of continuity and unity, to what would otherwise be disparate and varied. It also allows for the classification of sexual behaviors. For Money, the concept of threshold has great value because of the wide spectrum to which it applies. "It allows one to think developmentally or longitudinally, in terms of stages or experiences that are programmed serially, or hierarchically, or cybernetically (i.e. regulated by mutual feedback)."[5]

Anthropologists Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret M. Lock have developed a concept of bodymind for medical anthropology to provide a basis for research that is not limited by the view that the body and mind are distinct from one another.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
  2. Antonio R. Damasio: "I feel, therefore I am.": The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (1999)
  3. Money 1988, p. 116
  4. Money 1988, p. 115
  5. Money 1988, p. 116
  6. Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock, The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology


External linksEdit

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