Jungian-based depth psychotherapy in Media, PA.

Mind & Body Psychology

The long-standing distinction between mind and body in Western culture has been dubbed "Descartes' error" (Damasio, 1994). In his lecture on analytic psychology given in London in 1935, Carl Jung noted that mind and body were not merely in relation, but that they ultimately represented a fundamental unity:

"They [body and psyche] happen together and are, so I assume, simply two different aspects to our mind, but not in reality. We see them as two on account of the utter incapacity of the mind to think them together."

Clearly, no matter what intellect has split asunder, the mind and body remain inextricably linked. In the 1990's, the term mind-body medicine enjoyed some popularity. The influence of the body on the psyche was firmly established by author Joan Borsynko and her now-classic book Minding the Body, Minding the Mind.

biofeedback and guided imagery

In the 1980's, techniques like biofeedback and guided imagery were developed as a bridge to treat the "whole person." Presently, psychiatry specializes in prescribing medication while psychology focuses on psychotherapy; however, words like soul and spirit have made a resurgence in the field of mental health care.

The body can serve as a source for memory and experience of which we may not be aware. In 2015, Amy Cuddy and her collaborators at Harvard published the book Presence reporting the results of their research into how body posture, language, and vocal expression can influence mind, mood, and behavior. For example, expansive postures led to positive psychological and behavioral changes. Though gesture and posture, undiagnosed episodes of depression can become the focus of attention in psychotherapy and point the way to healing.

Maintaining an open, accepting, even welcoming, holding environment for your own impressions, whether they come through your body (senses: sight, sound, sensation, etc.) or your psyche (mind, emotion, imagination, etc.) is essential to the work of integrating body and mind. Ann Skinner, one of the founders of BodySoul Rythms©, frequently suggest that individuals "trust everything that comes [into their awareness] .... even the lulls and silences," be it through their body or psyche.

For instance, the initial point of departure or focus maybe an image from a dream, such as the entrance of a cave. That image may trigger a sensation in the throat that becomes a cough and then a loosening in the jaw and followed by an opening of the mouth. Then that can generate the movement of breath, becoming a sound such as 'ow' or 'oh.' Which in turn shifts expression to a movement such as the lifting of an arm, and so on. As you can see, in the process of coming into awareness the energy shifts form and locus.

Skinner maintains that dream images, sensations, sounds, movements, etc., are all manifestations of the same energy in various forms. In her words, "it's all just energy." Within such a framework, color can be expressed as sound or movement, thereby crossing boundaries we typically use to keep these forms of experience distinct from one another. As we continue in this process we quite literally re-member our experience and in-corporate it.

Alternatively, Freud's famous maxim, "it becomes I" can be applied to understand the progression outlined above. In this manner, that which may initially seem foreign or disconnected can be integrated through the center of our awareness into the greater wholeness we are becoming.

focus of attention in psychotherapy