The Disconnection of the Body in Society
Mankind in the modern era has always struggled with our own body. Modern consciousness has had a dominant myth that we must control the body at all costs. The ego processes of the mind, aided by religion, have become opposed through fear of the animalistic nature of the human body, its impulses and desires.
The unconscious mental part of man has become identified with the body not just as a truth, but also as a grouped fear of our uncontrollable aspects of humanity, and both have been seen as repositories of dark forces and what must be hidden and disowned.
Both religion and the scientific age of man have attacked these parts of ourself as “that which is not to be spoken or named”, a bit like Voldermort in Harry Potter. The main religions as well as the atheist religion of science, have both agreed that the valued aspect of our human condition lies in the higher realms of spirit, mind, and rational thought.
Science and religion then fall out between themselves over the existence of spirit in man, and so we are left regardless with a culture and set of sciences and religions that promote the myth of the body/mind split. As with most myths the average person takes on such realities without reflection and investigation and so we find a modern evolution occurring in Western society where the body, and our unconscious natures, are treated in degrading ways, or denied and minimised.
We now live in a society where the rational left front brain logic and its attachment to the individual ego dominates people’s reality. Many people have as a result developed an unhealthy relationship to their body. This can manifest in one of two main ways with each being an extreme form of disconnection to one’s own relationship to the body.
The first form of disconnection from the body is the neglect or abuse of the body via poor diet, lack of exercise, addictions, lack of grooming and cleanliness, and defacing the body via excessive piercings, tattooing and cosmetic surgery. Many people live their lives in their heads and basically ignore their bodies and just clothe their bodies against scrutiny and the external elements. They have no relationship with their bodies, and find no pleasure with or in their bodies.
Such people often attempt to numb out or medicate their bodily impulses via addictions such as drugs, alcohol, food and internet based distractions such as gaming, social media, and videos. Some people actually hate and attack their bodies via self harm, and other unconscious forms of mutilation which include piercings, tattoos, and allowing others to abuse and debase their bodies.
Some sexualise and sell their bodies for money such as in the pornography and sex for money industries. Shame is a dominant theme of such people who identify with the self hatred and low self esteem that runs them.
At the other end of the scale the rejection of the body and the self is shown through perfectionism and its related forms of narcissism. Such people reject their own humanity and instead create a false self both in the mind and the body. In this context the body is not acknowledged but instead used to support and create a false and idealised image outward to the world. The body in its humanity is rejected and instead punished by extreme compulsive exercise, and mutilated by cosmetic surgery.
Such a body is normally camouflaged by dressing in glamour and power dresses and garments, augmented by perfect makeup, and time spent in salons whose business is to “perfect” your appearance. The body becomes just another object to be used to create a grandiose and perfect illusion that implies power, success and some stereotyped version of beauty.
Such people have pride as a dominant theme as pride allows them to override the deeper and repressed felt sense of shame, self hatred and low self esteem that runs the first group of bodily disconnected people. In this way they are still part of the first group but instead of collapsing into the shame, they instead rise above the shame and become more-than-human. The first group identifies with being less-than-human which relates to their feelings of shame.
The narcissists cannot bear to feel their shame and so cut-off all feelings so as not to feel the shame. You cannot cut-off just one type of feeling. When you shutdown to any one type of feeling you actually shutdown to all your feelings. Narcissists are people without feelings.
The perfectionists do feel their shame and have a lot of inner feelings. Their strategy is to cover them up with a false self of perfectionism that projects confidence, assuredness and achievement to the outside world. Their inner world is full of anxiety, torment and self doubt coupled with the base level of shame.
In all these ways both types of the bodily disconnecting people are also disconnected from the wider “body of humanity”. This is a spiritual dilemma as when you reject your humanity and fail to love yourself you are doomed to become alone and out of step with the interconnectedness of the universe. Disconnection in the “herd instinct” in the human brain promotes unease mentally or at the bodily level dis-ease which becomes medical disease.
All therapy paths and all spiritual paths that are healthy are about healing the less-than-human and the more-than-human extremes or polarities of human existence, and finding grace and holiness in our essential humble place of our humanity.
There are many transformation gurus, self proclaimed healers, “churches”, gurus, and groups who seek out those who are both “less than human” and those who are “more than human”, and exploit them towards the “more than human” extreme form of being and spirituality. In this age of Narcissism these “false prophets” are everywhere and have gained traction with their deceptive messages and often New Age pseudo-science dogmas, and blended spiritualities.
Likewise there are religions, individuals, groups and “churches” which shame their audiences into believing they are not OK in their humanity, and that only by giving one’s power to that person, group, or church will the person be saved. This is just as exploitative and deceptive as the grandiose narcissist.
The great spiritual teachers of East and West taught an essential truth of basically a Middle Path or finding one’s God connection within one’s own body which then is a temple of worship and humble grace. In this way the great spiritual teachers emphasised that the true church or body of God is not bricks and mortar but the indwelling spirit or the body of the person who carries that connection to one’s God.
Our healing path in the West is to find our way back to an authentic relationship with our bodies that has a spiritual realisation that sacredness of the body is an essential truth in all parts of our being. The body and mind are one and can only notionally be separated. Holiness is about being whole and not divided or split, or about rejecting any part of ourself as being wrong, bad or shameful.
Posted on September 22, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged bioenergetics, body psychotherapy, Bodymind, core energetics, integrative body mind psychotherapy, mind & body, psychotherapy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.