• © Rainer Mahr
  • The Functional Identity of Body and Mind
  • ( Input for a discussion workshop of the EFBA-P at the IIBA – Conference in Seville, May 2007)

Lee me start telling a little story:

I’ was walking downtown without any special interest. A lot of people were around in the street, young men, older men, pretty women etc.

Suddenly I felt bad. My heart was beating very hard, the pulse went up, the chest became narrow, some flashes shot through my body.

Oh my god, that’s a heart attack. I need help very quickly or I will die.

Looking around very desperately I realized a woman that I had already seen before. At once a very big flash attacked me again.

“Wow – what a wonderful woman. I never had seen such a beauty.”

This woman must become my friend – no, my wife. I will create a family with her, have children. So my life will change completely and I will be happy up to my end.”

“ Ok, you are not ill but have fallen in love.”

But now I had to think about how to meet her - a very difficult challenge.

“ Ah – let it be. Probably she will not be interested and reject you.”

“That’s always the same disaster. There is so much fear of women. The nicer the woman the greater the fear. “

“ When you will get married with this woman you have to stand your fear.”

So I created some strategies to meet her. That was the beginning of a happy end.

 

Now this story shall show you what we mean by the functional identity of body and mind.

At the beginning there are different sensations – we usually call them emotions. They are represented in my brain and alert me that there is something going on with me. I have to take care of myself looking for a doctor or for any other help.

In addition to the bodily information of my excitement I get aware of this woman.

Now both information are linked and become a picture or a visualisation in my brain. By this bodily process my excitement becomes a meaning and a feeling: I am not ill but fallen in love.

So you can say: Feelings are the representation of different linked sensations in the brain. Or - the brain creates feelings by linking and representing bodily sensations.

By this process of linking different bodily sensations the psychic world becomes vivid. The psychic reality is the result of bodily self regulation processes of which you get aware.

The psychic world seems to be something like a screen on which you can see the status of the functioning of your organism and all these pictures and feelings will show you what is needed to regulate anew in your body or what you need from the outer world of you or from your social community.

My story shows, without that feeling of falling in love I would have been brought into a clinic.

This feeling is the starter to activate me thinking about the strategies to meet her.

I start thinking how I will overcome my old pattern of fear of women.

I start making decisions of marrying, where I want to live with my family. How many children we will have etc.

That means the feelings start a cognitive process.

There is no thought, no rational decision possible without feelings, emotions, bodily sensations.

There is an inseparable link between emotion (and feeling) – cognition and behaviour:

1. Behaviour is always connected with specific thoughts or ideas and with specific emotions. Nothing will happen without emotions like interest, anxiety, aggression, pleasure etc.

2. Cognition is always linked with ideas and pictures, which are the representation of emotions in your brain, the bodily sensations. You never can think without any pictures.

3. Emotions are the motor or the energy for cognition and behaviour.

Therefore you always need good contact to your emotions if you like to create clear thoughts and if you must make important decisions.

You will change behaviour only if you change the connected emotion.

All the patterns of behaviour, attitudes rules and ideas in psychotherapy which should be changed are the sum of emotion, cognition and behaviour. Which modality of psychotherapy you will ever use you have to touch all three levels. You will never be able to work without the body.

Perhaps you will object that I only relate to the human organism and its structure of functioning. And that this will never explain what makes us alive and why we live. There must be a power outside of the body and outside of our well known world. Yes, I agree with you. But I limit my concepts on those data which can be observed and experienced. And I don’t try to create an answer where it seems totally impossible to find.

Some people say that it is the spirit (instead of god) which will enable and regulate human life. May be. But be aware that this spirit is something totally different to the spiritual world of our mind.

 

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