Altered Reference Frames
Essentially, the reference frames are locked and there is a loss in the ability to switch between them. A loss of adaptability.
This has really only been studied in primarily psychological issues and neurological injury (that I could find), but if there really is no discontinuity between the psychic and the somatic, then it stands to reason that those who are stuck in a reference frame are unable to perceive the world as it really is. And that affects our ability to know and trust ourselves within our environment and ultimately how we move.
The self emerges as a phenomenon of the experienced, sensed, and understood
Sensory Integration and Body Image
- How might one acquire a problem with sensory integration? I don’t think we know. My best guess: assuming no neurological disease or developmental insult, it’s likely driven by threat that exceeds one’s tolerance for it. The result of which is a capturing of sensorimotor processing and behaviors that were successful in the short-term to evade the perceived danger. Over time this can become habitual and fundamentally alters processing of sensory information. Typically, this seems to be an over- or under-representation of a particular sensory pathway, i.e., over-reliance on vision and under-reliance on proprioception.
- I think insecurity is huge. If one doesn’t implicitly trust their sensory representations and feel, then they are without options and stuck in a reactive existence. I think it really is all about feeling secure within your environment, which stems from reliable perceptual integration. Because an insecure person is one without a resilient self-image of their body and unsure of their literal place in the world.
- An altered body image, then, changes the way we reference the world. How I perceive myself is how I perceive the world which, in turn, influences how I perceive myself. For example, physical bodyweight influences how we perceive distances (the heavier you are, the farther away things appear) and sufferers of anorexia perceive their bodies to be larger than they really are. People with chronic back pain perceive their backs inaccurately. Think this might change the way someone moves?
- Our position in relation to gravity is used to orient us. It seems to me that if one can’t feel the ground or perceive peripheral vision, for example, they will produce tension and hold themselves in certain postures in an effort to create a reference frame. Almost as if they’re fighting gravity (and that’s a fight you can’t win). If I don’t trust where I am, muscle tone and consistent postures are great ways to increase security. The bummer is that this likely reduces movement variability and changes how I integrate sensory information, feeding into the cycle depicted.
So, in reference to the blocked quote at the top of the article, the way you sense and feel influences your view of your self. And how we move is a product of how we see ourselves within our environment. Feeling is understanding.
How do we improve this to ultimately move and feel better? That’s Part III!
- An inability to switch between reference frames involving the self and the environment is problematic for healthy perceptions
- With misrepresentation of sensory input, one doesn’t trust and feel secure with their position in space
- If one doesn’t feel secure, body image and subsequent postures reflect the insecurity creating a loss of movement variability
P.S. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my webinar with Kate Galliett of Fit For Real Life where we discuss pain, perception, healing, and movement.
- 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.
Also, Feldenkrais wrote of posturing and sensorimotor integration in his text Body & Mature Behavior, which is part of my Recommended Reading List: