Our sense of who we are is influenced by the ways in which we sense and perceive the world around us
Feeling “At Home”
How do we know this? Well, we all see it: rigid, compulsive movers who hold themselves in predictable postures and with significant muscular tone. They are uncertain and uncomfortable when asked to move in new ways, particularly in ways that displace their center of mass. In other words very hindbrain-driven. I think much of this is due to an altered spatial awareness, or reference frame.
In the main, there are no isolated sensory experiences as we test our senses against each other and integrate them via higher order multi-modal neurons. You can understand something better if you see it, hear it, and touch it versus just hearing it. It is this integration that gives us a sense of self within the environment.
‘We cannot conceive consciousness without fixing the position of our body in relation to the outside world.’ Feldenkrais in Body & Mature Behavior
So wouldn’t someone who is misinterpreting their own body’s position in space adopt postures and movements that reflect that?
Egocentric vs. Allocentric
- Egocentric: representation of objects in relation to the location of the self.
- E.g. identifying where my hands are in relation to my body. The ground underneath my feet. The perception of optic flow while walking down the street.
- Allocentric: representation of objects in relation to one another, independent of one’s self.
- E.g. describing directions to the Braves stadium. The location of Batman in relation to Superman and Lex Luthor.
Ideally, one is able to switch aptly between them depending on the task. But might those who are spatially challenged struggle with this? And might it lend a sense of insecurity?
Stay tuned for the next post(s) – we’ll bring this together into a model that will hopefully lend some credence to, and ways to help, those who aren’t comfortable in their own bodies.
- Rigid, compulsive movers likely perceive themselves and thus the world differently.
- We use our senses to construct a spatial framework of ourselves.
- It is likely thru this bodily representation that we view the environment around us – a projection of our own embodiment.
*Many of these folks probably need a psychotherapist in addition, so find a good one!
- Prouxl et al., Where am I? Who am I? The Relation Between Spatial Cognition, Social Cognition and Individual Differences in the Built Environment
- Hach and Shutz-Basbach: In (or outside of) your neck of the woods: laterality in spatial body representation. I did not discuss the lateralization of spacial perception much here specifically but you can bet that it is a main player in postural asymmetries.
- I’ve written about mapping and perceptions before: Maps, Predictions, and Behavior.
- Check out these writings as well for more on perceptions and embodiment, both listed on my Recommended Readings list: