The Conscious Body: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Body in Therapy
In The Conscious Body: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Body in Therapy, Perrin Elisha, PhD, delves into the underlying bias in psychology and psychotherapy that views the mind and body as separate, and that views the mind as having a higher status than the body in all contexts. In pointing out this consistent bias, Elisha confronts the broader fact that most people in Western contemporary culture—psychologists as well as lay people—have come to think of psychological space, what we think of as consciousness, as somehow not really being located in the body.
The author's lively examination of the mind–body split begins with the original division of psyche and soma in Greek classical thinking. She then shows how that model fit into the Judeo-Christian myth of ascension, which sees the natural progression of life as moving from our base, physical nature to the higher form of spirit and deity. The author takes readers through Western history to a comprehensive review of Freud's formative theories, the adaptations of psychotherapeutic theory by thinkers such as Kohut and Klein, and beyond, to modern attachment theory and the fascinating findings of neuropsychological studies.
Elisha provides ample illustration of how the mostly unexamined beliefs about the body that we all share may impede efforts to work with body-based presenting problems such as psychosomatic disorders and eating disorders, and even with disorders less associated with the body, such as depression. Ultimately, this "psychoanalysis of psychoanalysis" will lead mental health practitioners to see psychotherapy's view of the mind and body as not incorrect, but rather, incomplete.
A rigorous, metapsychological review of the evolution of a central idea in psychology, this book not only enlightens readers to the unconscious biases in their own thinking, but points to a new way to view the mind—and all the brilliant complexity of consciousness—as embodied.