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This article is about the New Age term. For the Buddhist term, see Bodymind (in meditation traditions).

Bodymind (or mindbody) is a concept that the physical body and the mind should be thought of as a single integrated unit, in contrast to dualist conceptions of a separate body and mind.

Dualistic concept[edit]

The dualistic theory of body and mind originated from René Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher best known for his statement "I think, therefore I am", who established as his legacy the thesis that mind and body are really distinct—a thesis still called "mind-body dualism". He claimed that he had a mind without needing to assume that he had a body, and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other. Descartes thesis still largely governs the concept of the classical medical profession to the present day, as well as in the mind-body approach taken by many current bodywork methods, in which the practitioner’s mind decides what is best for the body.

Interrelated concepts[edit]

Further information: Psychoneuroimmunology

The present day understanding of bodymind both in a psychological, therapeutic as well as in a medical sense is that:

  • The body, mind, emotions and spirit are dynamically interrelated.[1]
  • The body holds all experience - including physical stress and emotional injury, as well as delights and exuberant experiences - stored in the body cells which informs and directs here and now responses to life. Each time a change is introduced at one level, it has a ripple effect throughout the entire system. [2]

Bodymind therapy combines the strengths of "talk" therapy with bodywork, such as touch, postural alignment, or movement education and exercise with psychotherapy (that is, including verbal dialog, psychodrama, role play, narrative storytelling etc.) by inducing the use of ‘affectregulation’. It claims to address the "emotional intelligence" of the right hemisphere which is understood to be more closely related to the body, the heart and the autonomic nervous system than the left hemisphere (see Alan Schore’s work [3]).

Other unified concepts[edit]

Jack Painter Ph.D., [4] a pioneer of the human growth work, developed a conception of 'bodymind' in the 1960s. - it is a singular approach to the whole person". [5] From the seventies Painter became increasingly interested in integrating influences and aspects from different approaches working with the physical, energetic and cognitive as well as the emotional processes in the bodymind, [6] developing it into a method of personal growth, self-development and healing he called Postural Integration.

John Money developed a conception of 'bodymind' as a way for scientists, in developing a science about sexuality, to move on from the platitudes of dichotomy between nature versus nurture, innate versus acquired, biological versus social, and psychological versus physiological,[7]

Money suggests that the concept of threshold—relating to the release or inhibition of sexual behavior—is most useful for sex research as a substitute for any concept of motivation.[8] It confers a great of advantage of continuity and unity, to what would otherwise be disparate and varied. It also allows for the classification of sexual behaviors. For Money, the concept of threshold has great value because of the wide spectrum to which it applies. "It allows one to think developmentally or longitudinally, in terms of stages or experiences that are programmed serially, or hierarchically, or cybernetically (i.e. regulated by mutual feedback)."[9]

Anthropologists Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret M. Lock have developed a concept of bodymind for medical anthropology to provide a basis for research that is not limited by the view that the body and mind are distinct from one another.[10]

The term overlaps in significant ways, especially in its anti-dualist intention, with the philosophical term mindbody developed independently by American philosopher William H. Poteat in the last several decades of the twentieth century.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antonio R. Damasio: "I feel, therefore I am.": The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (1999)
  2. ^ Keleman, Stanley: Your Body speaks its Mind, Center Press (US) (1989) ISBN 978-0934320016
  3. ^ Schore, Alan N.: Affect regulation and the origin of the self, The neurobiology of emotional development (1994), Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-3459-1
  4. ^ Painter, Jack: recalling his life and times
  5. ^ Painter, Jack: Technical Manual of Deep Wholistic Bodywork, Postural Integration, p.14; published by
    The International Centre for Release and Integration, Mill Valley, Calif. USA (1984)
  6. ^ Erken, Rita and Schlage, Bernhard: Editors: Transformation of the Self with Bodymind Integration
    Postural Integration – Energetic Integration – Psychotherapeutic Postural Integration; Hubert W. Holzinger Berlin (2012) ISBN 978-3-926396-67-9
  7. ^ Money 1988, p. 116
  8. ^ Money 1988, p. 115
  9. ^ Money 1988, p. 116
  10. ^ Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock, The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology
  11. ^ Poteat's fullest account of the "mindbody" is given in Polanyian Meditations: In Search of a Post-Critical Logic (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1985). See references to "Mindbody" in the index of that book. For good secondary overviews of Poteat's conception, see Walter B. Mead, "William Poteat’s Anthropology: 'Mindbody In The World,'" Tradition and Discovery 21:1 (1994-95), 33-44; and an even fuller account by the same author, “William H. Poteat’s Anthropology: Mindbody in the World,” The Political Science Reviewer 27 (1998), pp. 267-344.