Two English neurologists, Lord Russell Brain and Henry Head (!) coined the phrase "body image" for the internal image and memory of one's body in space and time. The body-image mediates the mind / body polarization. It requires input from both sides to be effective.
The d ynamic body-image has been proposed as the brain's primary frame of reference which becomes conscious through self-reference. Students of the body-image credit it as the source of the sense of space, of object, and self-reference. The body image is not only a picture of the body but also an anticipatory plan for the detailed movements of the body, and rather than a fixed structure, it is dynamic and plastic, capable of reorganizing itself radically with the contingencies of experience. (eg. Oliver Sachs, A Leg to Stand On, p. 184) It goes without saying that the body-image is symmetrical in the left/right axis. Asymmetries of the body-image can result from trauma, either through injuries to the brain (see anosognosia , or through the loss of limbs.
The body image is the condition of the subject's access to spatiality (including the spatiality of the built environment). Without the body image, the brain is isolated from the body and has no memory. The dissolution of the body image risks throwing the subject into the preimaginary real, the domain inhabited by the psychotic. (The body without organs is a body without a body-image.)
Psychologists describe the body image in a different manner than neurophysiologists . They describe the body image as a psychical, and primarily libidinal construct, a representation (or series of them) cathected with libidinal intensity. It is a map or representation of the degree of narcissistic investment of the subject in its own body and body parts. This is not a map of the biological onto the psychosocial but rather a mutual dependence, an intimate connection. The "imaginary anatomy" of the body image is the precondition and raw material of a stable, that is, symbolic, identity, which the child aquires as a result of the resolution of the Oedipus complex. See psycho-sexual space . See also ego for formation of body image through primary narcissim.
The interpretation of dreams in terms of the body-image, or at least in terms of the projection of the body was developed in Karl Albert Scherner's study of 1861. Das Leben des Traums (The Life of the Dream) This book, which powerfully influenced Freud, was perhaps the first exegesis of the symbolism of dreams. Scherner was particularly fascinated by the creative fertility of dreams: how the imagination, once liberated from the restraint of the ego, is free to pursue associations, moods, and emotions. (see introduction to Empathy, Form, and Space, by Harry Mallgrave and Eleftherios Iknomou, p. 24) Since the imagination lacks the vehicle of rational concepts, in dreams, Scherner argued, the mind must translate ideas into visual impressions or symbols. Thus a house becomes the archetypal symbol of the body; the parts of the house signify specific organs... Robert Vischer developed his notion of empathy on this projection of the self in a dream, which he carried over into everyday experience. "With careful introspection it is not difficult to see that apart from the more specific abstractions there exists a state of pure absorption in which we imagine this or that phenomenon in accordance with the unconscious need for a surrogate for our body-ego. For Vischer, the phenomena that we encounter in the world therefore become analogues for one's own bodily structure; in viewing a specific object, "I wrap myself within its contours as in a garment." (p. 101)
What are the differences between the body images of men and of women?
slide of intravenus?
In 1905 the French neurolgists G. Deny and P. Camus recounted the case of Madame I who had lost body awareness. She described her "general insensibility" as follows:"I'm no longer aware of myself as I used to be. I can no longer feel my arms, my legs, my head, and my hair. I have to touch myself constantly in order to know how I am. I have the feeling that my entire body is changed, even at times that it no longer exists. I touch an object, but it is not I who am touching it. I no longer feel as I used to. I cannot find myself. I cannot imagine myself. My insensibility is frightening, as if everything were empty." Madame I was unable to recognize the position of her arms and legs and was completely insensitive to pain. According to Israel Rosenfeld's thesis, Madame I was unable to know her body as part of her memory. (her brain could not create a body image) She could not imagine, or create in her mind, images of parents or the houses where she had lived. Lacking a continuous image of herself, she could re-create momentary images only when she was verifying to herself that she had a body. (see Strange, Familiar and Forgotten pp 40-42)
Paralysis or blindness can affect the body image. For example partial paralysis can lead to the phenomenon of the alien or counterfeit limb. (the inverse of the " phantom limb") Oliver Sachs describes how his paralyzed leg had "vanished, taking its place with it...The leg had vanished taking its 'past' away with it. I could no longer remember having a leg." (See Oliver Sachs, A Leg to Stand On, New York, 1984,)
Neurologists use the term "scotoma" (darkness, shadow) to denote a disconnection or hiatus in perception, essentially a gap in consciousness produced by a neurological lesion.
The body-image can also incorporate external object, implements, and instruments. When they are being used, they can become intimate, vital, even libidinally cathected parts of the body image. (see embodiment.) (see also proprioceptive ) Likewise the "detachable" parts of the body, its excretions, waste products, and bodily by-products are never fully distinct and separable from the body-image. Urine, faeces, saliva, sperm, blood, vomit, hair, nails, skin -- all retain something of the cathexis and value of a body part even when they are separated from the body.
"We could describe the relation between the body-images of different persons under the metaphor of a magnetic field with stream-lines going in all directions." (P. Schilder, The Image and Apperance of the Human Body, London, 1935.) are the Deleuzian "lines of flight" better described as stream lines?