Inside and outside

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Body ImageImage by iThinkergoiMac via Flickr

“Body image” refers to the cognitive representation of ones body that one holds. It is very different from the kinesthetic or sensory perception of ones body, as it is a representation rather than a perception. Body image has been an area of interest in psychology for quite a while especially related to clinical areas such as Eating Disorders. In these disorders the gap between body image and actual body is often outlandishly discrepant. Girls dying from starvation can look in a mirror and tell you they are “fat.”
I’ve long noted that distorted body image is function of desensitization, the inability to actually sense, to feel, ones own body sensation. You can work all day on getting a better body image representation, but it makes little difference if one cannot sense one’s own body, especially ones internal sensation.

That’s why I was pleased to run across the study “Perception of our heartbeat influences our body image,” especially for the statement of the researcher (underline added):

Dr Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway says: “…It seems that a stable perception of the body from the outside, what is known as “body image,” is partly based on our ability to accurately perceive our body from within…

Our picture of ourselves is affected by our inner bodily life? Exactly.

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