The mind-body relationship in psychotherapy: grounded cognition as an explanatory framework
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These questions illustrate some of the issues which arise when dualistic thinking is reflected upon carefully. In practice, BP primarily works on releasing and re-shaping somatic memories in order to release associated psychological constraints Totton, The practice of BP implies a very close relationship between body and mind, to the point that they are seemingly undifferentiated during therapy.
BP has been described as being fundamentally underpinned by an explicit theory of mind—body functioning which assumes a functional unity between body and mind in which there is no separation or hierarchical relationship between the two www.
SUMMARY This brief review exposes a lack of consensus, both implicit and explicit, regarding the mind—body relationship across psychotherapeutic approaches. It is our position that psychotherapeutic research and practice would benefit from an organizing framework for the mind—body relationship, which could be applied across all psychotherapies.
Recent research in philosophy Clark, ; Lakoff and Johnson,cognitive science Brooks, ; Chemero, and psychology itself Barsalou, ; Glenberg and Robertson, suggests that this framework should be underpinned by a holistic conceptualization of the mind—body relationship.
Embodied cognition offers a psychological framework underpinned by a holistic conceptualisation of the mind—body relationship. Some of the abovementioned psychotherapies which have implied a holistic mind—body perspective have already started to draw on embodied cognition and related ideas.
For example, Totton has recently highlighted the utility of drawing on embodiment from a social perspective to enhance the practice of body psychotherapy, while Michalak et al.
Before describing the psychological framework of embodied cognition, it is important to briefly examine its philosophical underpinnings which form the foundation for its conceptualisation of a holistic mind—body relationship, from both phenomenological and objective perspectives. The subject-body can be considered the body experienced from a first-person perspective which acts on the world, whereas the object-body can be considered the body as an object of the world experienced from a third-person perspective.
American pragmatism offers an objective, philosophical account of a holistic mind and body in the form of naturalism Johnson, As Horst explicates, there have been various definitions and strands of naturalism. The account we refer to in this section aligns with the Darwinian paradigm and, more specifically with physicalism, emergence, and supervenience Harbecke, ; Montero, ; McLaughlin and Bennett, This form of naturalism is committed to an account in which all things in the world, including body and mind are natural or naturally emergent Horst, ; Aikin, In turn, it posits that all explanation should be causal and reducible to natural explanations and is consequently committed to the study of the person as an object and the natural evolution of all human functions Aikin, ; Johnson, The principle of continuity posits that there is no break in experience between the processes of perceiving, feeling, moving, and thinking; instead they are levels of organic functioning from which higher function emerges.
It describes three levels of organization: The principle explains the progression from the physical level to the level of the mind without introducing new ontological entities, structures, or forces. Dewey argues that new organization is the reason that organisms with minds can do things which psycho-physical entities cannot do, and why psycho-physical entities can do things which physical entities cannot do.
As Aikinp. Thus, phenomenology and naturalism are contrasting, but complementary approaches Aikin, ; Zahavi, Thus, a philosophical integration of these perspectives may be possible Zahavi,but our aim here is to provide a framework for psychotherapeutic research and practice.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide a psychological account which integrates subjective and objective perspectives of a holistic mind—body relationship. We propose that grounded cognition provides such a framework.
Descartes, Rene: Mind-Body Distinction | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Grounded cognition has been comprehensively articulated and critiqued in the literature Barsalou, has a strong empirical foundation e. Thus, each according to their bodily experiences with morels forms different conceptualizations of it. However, these concepts are not determinate: Furthermore, it is important to note that there is nothing stopping Sally, Charles, and Lucy from having the same concept for a morel, it is simply their differing bodily interactions with the morel which has determined their conceptualizations.
Finally, it can be assumed that they have the same visual conceptualization of a morel; they all know one when they see it.
However, if Lucy were to have been born blind, she would never be able to obtain the same concept of a morel as Sally and Charles. In sum, grounded cognition implies that cognition is emergent from and inextricably tied to the subjective, lived, experience of the body-in-the-world. Conceiving of the relationship between body and mind from this holistic, psychological perspective can be expected to have a number of important implications for psychotherapy theory and practice.
When the mind—body relationship is conceptualized from a dualist or exclusivist perspective, a tension is created between the phenomenological needs of the patient who is present mind and body and the emphasis on either mind or body according to the theoretical assumptions of the psychotherapy practiced by the therapist.
One example of this is the de-emphasis of the body during the practice of psychotherapies whose underlying theory disembodies the mind.
During such therapies e. Second, a psychologically articulated, holistic framework for the mind—body relationship encourages theoretical reflection about this relationship by challenging dualist and exclusivist assumptions inherent in some psychotherapies. In turn, this helps to clarify some of the points of difference between the psychotherapies described above. An example of this is traditional behavioral therapy and body psychotherapy.
Both emphasize the body and conceptualize it as the agent of change and as a consequence, both prioritize the body in therapy. One of the primary differences between the two can be ascertained by reflecting on the mind—body relationship.
Traditional behavior therapy is very much exclusivist, dismissing the mind and cognition and emphasizing the body and behavior, both methodologically and theoretically. Contrastingly, body psychotherapy recognizes cognitions whilst treating them via the body, thus implying a holistic conceptualization of mind and body.
Third, a holistic conceptualization of the mind—body relationship has the potential to further de-stigmatize mental illness Thomas, ; Ungar and Knaak, ab. Ungar and Knaak a suggest that dismissive and blaming attitudes toward mental health issues can be attributed to the absence of an organic explanation for most mental health issues.
Thomas suggests that promoting mental illness to non-psychiatric health professionals as an interaction between cognitive, behavioral, emotional, biological, and environmental factors would reduce dualistic thinking around mental health issues and help with de-stigmatization in these settings.
Thus, we propose that the holistic conceptualization of the mind—body relationship presented here will further help with de-stigmatization of mental illness in non-psychiatric settings. Fourth, the clearly articulated, explicit position of a holistic mind—body portrayed by grounded cognition encourages a more reflective approach to the issue in practice. Theories underlying most current psychotherapies do not explicitly state their position regarding the relationship between mind and body.
Consequently, practitioners unreflectively adopt the assumptions inherent in the psychotherapies they utilize.
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The clear articulation of a holistic mind—body from both phenomenological and objective perspectives may assist practitioners to reflect on this relationship. The issue for psychotherapy practice is that in using these labels with patients, they automatically divide psychopathologies into arbitrary categories and thus portray dualist or exclusivist agendas. This is but one example of changes which may come of reflecting on the mind—body relationship in practice.
Finally, a new perspective on the mind—body relationship will guide the identification of gaps in existing therapies and consequently promote an expansion of the range of therapies offered to the patient. For example, grounded cognition implies that one way to change cognitions is through the subjective, lived, bodily experience of the individual. Encouraging practitioners to reflect on a holistic mind—body approach may result in a wider range of therapies they can offer their patients stemming from this idea.
Further development of these ideas may also result in the creation of new and innovative therapeutic methods to augment those already in existence. By reviewing how mind and body are traditionally understood in major psychotherapies, we have attempted to underscore some of the tensions in this area. For example, in the case of a bird, say, the swallow, the substantial form of swallowness was thought to organize matter for the sake of being a swallow species of substance.
Accordingly, any dispositions a swallow might have, such as the disposition for making nests, would then also be explained by means of this ultimate goal of being a swallow; that is, swallows are disposed for making nests for the sake of being a swallow species of substance.
This explanatory scheme was also thought to work for plants and inanimate natural objects. But what makes it especially clear that my idea of gravity was taken largely from the idea I had of the mind is the fact that I thought that gravity carried bodies toward the centre of the earth as if it had some knowledge of the centre within itself AT VII On this pre-Newtonian account, a characteristic goal of all bodies was to reach its proper place, namely, the center of the earth.
But, how can a stone know anything? Surely only minds can have knowledge. Yet, since stones are inanimate bodies without minds, it follows that they cannot know anything at all—let alone anything about the center of the earth. Descartes continues on to make the following point: But later on I made the observations which led me to make a careful distinction between the idea of the mind and the ideas of body and corporeal motion; and I found that all those other ideas of. Here, Descartes is claiming that the concept of a substantial form as part of the entirely physical world stems from a confusion of the ideas of mind and body.
This confusion led people to mistakenly ascribe mental properties like knowledge to entirely non-mental things like stones, plants, and, yes, even non-human animals.
The real distinction of mind and body can then also be used to alleviate this confusion and its resultant mistakes by showing that bodies exist and move as they do without mentality, and as such principles of mental causation such as goals, purposes that is, final causesand knowledge have no role to play in the explanation of physical phenomena.The Mind-Body Connection and The Placebo Effect
So the real distinction of mind and body also serves the more scientifically oriented end of eliminating any element of mentality from the idea of body. In this way, a clear understanding of the geometrical nature of bodies can be achieved and better explanations obtained. The Real Distinction Argument Descartes formulates this argument in many different ways, which has led many scholars to believe there are several different real distinction arguments.
However, it is more accurate to consider these formulations as different versions of one and the same argument. The fundamental premise of each is identical: I have a clear and distinct idea of the mind as a thinking, non-extended thing.
I have a clear and distinct idea of body as an extended, non-thinking thing. Therefore, the mind is really distinct from the body and can exist without it. At first glance it may seem that, without justification, Descartes is bluntly asserting that he conceives of mind and body as two completely different things, and that from his conception, he is inferring that he or any mind can exist without the body. But this is no blunt, unjustified assertion.
Much more is at work here: Here he likens a clear intellectual perception to a clear visual perception. So, just as someone might have a sharply focused visual perception of something, an idea is clear when it is in sharp intellectual focus. Moreover, an idea is distinct when, in addition to being clear, all other ideas not belonging to it are completely excluded from it.
Hence, Descartes is claiming in both premises that his idea of the mind and his idea of the body exclude all other ideas that do not belong to them, including each other, and all that remains is what can be clearly understood of each.
As a result, he clearly and distinctly understands the mind all by itself, separately from the body, and the body all by itself, separately from the mind. According to Descartes, his ability to clearly and distinctly understand them separately from one another implies that each can exist alone without the other. Possible or contingent existence is contained in the concept of a limited thing Descartes, then, clearly and distinctly perceives the mind as possibly existing all by itself, and the body as possibly existing all by itself.
But couldn't Descartes somehow be mistaken about his clear and distinct ideas? Given the existence of so many non-thinking bodies like stones, there is no question that bodies can exist without minds. So, even if he could be mistaken about what he clearly and distinctly understands, there is other evidence in support of premise 2.
But can minds exist without bodies? Can thinking occur without a brain? This veridical guarantee is based on the theses that God exists and that he cannot be a deceiver. These arguments, though very interesting, are numerous and complex, and so they will not be discussed here.
Moreover, Descartes claims that he cannot help but believe clear and distinct ideas to be true. However, if God put a clear and distinct idea in him that was false, then he could not help but believe a falsehood to be true and, to make matters worse, he would never be able to discover the mistake.
Since God would be the author of this false clear and distinct idea, he would be the source of the error and would, therefore, be a deceiver, which must be false.
However, if it turns out that God does not exist or that he can be a deceiver, then all bets are off. There would then no longer be any veridical guarantee of what is clearly and distinctly understood and, as a result, the first premise could be false. Consequently, premise 1 would not bar the possibility of minds requiring brains to exist and, therefore, this premise would not be absolutely certain as Descartes supposed.
Notice that mind and body are defined as complete opposites. This means that the ideas of mind and body represent two natures that have absolutely nothing in common. And, it is this complete diversity that establishes the possibility of their independent existence. To answer this question, recall that every idea of limited or finite things contains the idea of possible or contingent existence, and so Descartes is conceiving mind and body as possibly existing all by themselves without any other creature.
Since there is no doubt about this possibility for Descartes and given the fact that God is all powerful, it follows that God could bring into existence a mind without a body and vice versa just as Descartes clearly and distinctly understands them.
For when I consider the mind, or myself in so far as I am merely a thinking thing, I am unable to distinguish any parts within myself; I understand myself to be something quite single and complete…. By contrast, there is no corporeal or extended thing that I can think of which in my thought I cannot easily divide into parts; and this very fact makes me understand that it is divisible. This one argument would be enough to show me that the mind is completely different from the body….
I understand the mind to be indivisible by its very nature. I understand body to be divisible by its very nature. Therefore, the mind is completely different from the body. Notice the conclusion that mind and body are really distinct is not explicitly stated but can be inferred from 3. What is interesting about this formulation is how Descartes reaches his conclusion. He does not assert a clear and distinct understanding of these two natures as completely different but instead makes his point based on a particular property of each.
So, here Descartes is arguing that a property of what it is to be a body, or extended thing, is to be divisible, while a property of what it is to be a mind or thinking thing is to be indivisible. First, it is easy to see that bodies are divisible. Just take any body, say a pencil or a piece of paper, and break it or cut it in half. Now you have two bodies instead of one. Second, based on this line of reasoning, it is easy to see why Descartes believed his nature or mind to be indivisible: Therefore, the body is essentially divisible and the mind is essentially indivisible: Here it should be noted that a difference in just any non-essential property would have only shown that mind and body are not exactly the same.
Neurobiology and Neurophilosophy A science of consciousness must explain the exact relationship between subjective conscious mental states and brain states formed by electrochemical interactions in the body, the so-called hard problem of consciousness.
Neurophilosophy is the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience and philosophy of mind.
In this pursuit, neurophilosophers, such as Patricia Churchland  Paul Churchland  and Daniel Dennett  have focused primarily on the body rather than the mind.
In this context, neuronal correlates may be viewed as causing consciousness, where consciousness can be thought of as an undefined property that depends upon this complexadaptive, and highly interconnected biological system. The massive parallelism of neural networks allows redundant populations of neurons to mediate the same or similar percepts. Nonetheless, it is assumed that every subjective state will have associated neural correlates, which can be manipulated to artificially inhibit or induce the subject's experience of that conscious state.
The growing ability of neuroscientists to manipulate neurons using methods from molecular biology in combination with optical tools  was achieved by the development of behavioral and organic models that are amenable to large-scale genomic analysis and manipulation.
Non-human analysis such as this, in combination with imaging of the human brain, have contributed to a robust and increasingly predictive theoretical framework. Arousal and content[ edit ] Midline structures in the brainstem and thalamus necessary to regulate the level of brain arousal. Small, bilateral lesions in many of these nuclei cause a global loss of consciousness. To be conscious of something, the brain must be in a relatively high state of arousal sometimes called vigilancewhether awake or in REM sleep.
Brain arousal level fluctuates in a circadian rhythm but these natural cycles may be influenced by lack of sleep, alcohol and other drugs, physical exertion, etc. Arousal can be measured behaviorally by the signal amplitude required to trigger a given reaction for example, the sound level that causes a subject to turn and look toward the source. High arousal states involve conscious states that feature specific perceptual content, planning and recollection or even fantasy.
Clinicians use scoring systems such as the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the level of arousal in patients with impaired states of consciousness such as the comatose statethe persistent vegetative stateand the minimally conscious state.