Sunday, 14 June 2009

Personal Space(s)!

Although man is a self-domesticated animal, the domestication process is only partial. We see this in certain types of schizophrenics who apparently experience something very similar to the flight reaction. When approached too closely, these schizophrenics panic in much the same way as an animal recently locked up in a zoo. In describing their feelings, such patients refer to anything that happens within their "flight distance" as taking place literally inside themselves. That is, the boundaries of the self extend beyond the body.

- Edward T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension

Disgust helps mark boundaries of culture and boundaries of the self. The boundaries of the self extend beyond the body to encompass a jurisdictional territory, what Erving Goffman calls a territorial preserve, which may be defined as any space that if intruded upon would engender rightful indignation or disgust in us.

- William Ian Miller, The Anatomy of Disgust

In general, schizophrenia is an extremely introverted, psychospiritual mode of perception, or way of relating to the world; or state of consciousness involving (what I have called) 'extreme empathy'. This simultaneous blessing and curse is due to a fragile, fragmented, dead, or lost ego, or conscious personality structure. The normal, ego-enforced boundaries between the self and the world have broken down, such that schizophrenia sufferers - for better and worse - find themselves identifying with everything within their scope of perception.

- Maureen B. Roberts, What is Schizophrenia?

What happens when the physical body and the subjective sense of self part company? How do we explain phantom limbs and alien abduction? What are the cognitive, neurobiological mechanisms that support such phenomena? ...when 'body' and 'self', soma and psyche are dissociated from each other, within or beyond the body's surface. Some disorders constrain the space of the body (as in neglect and dissociation syndromes), others seem to extend the boundaries (as with phantom limbs and autoscopy). Still others suggest a permeability of those boundaries (as in alien control and thought insertion, each occurring in schizophrenia). Finally, the body may itself be perceived as having passed into space, the most extreme exemplar being 'alien abduction'.

- Pathologies of Body, Self and Space (write-up)

One of the most prominent characteristics of severe borderline pathology is a mechanistic and self-destructive relation with the body, in which the latter is conceived of as non-functional, inanimate or even dead. The view of one's body from without, as if the borderline places himself separate from his body and observes it, is characteristic. The patient experiences his body becoming alive only when he activates a ritual of perversive order, pertaining to a relation with substances, with food, a paraphilia or a combination of some of the above. The sexuality of the borderline patients, which is under the shadow of perversity, prefers skin contact, contact through touch. It concerns a perversive sexuality, which remains attached to sensations and emotions, rejecting penetration or the bodily depth. In the end, in severe borderline pathology, the sexual contact fails to provide satisfaction of genital order while bringing about a mere satisfaction of psychic order. It is a peculiar satisfaction since it derives from a never-ending search for satisfaction through perpetual excitation of desire, which is finally obtained via self-satisfaction and in most cases in the absence of the external object.

- M. Chatziandreou, Sexual aspects of the body in borderline patients (abstract)

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