As a person interested in working in the mental health field, as well as a student currently learning about bodylore, I find it extremely important to relate the two together because they go hand in hand. Bodylore is defined as the interest in the body’s role of communication and social meaning. Body studies and mental health should be incorporated together because it is critical to know both to understand the one. It is easy to start off the conversation by including the problem some people, usually young girls, have with eating disorder and how it is connected with the body. Sometimes people with an eating disorder have this false sense of identity as well as appearance, so what they see in a reflection is not actually who they are, which can bring up negative emotions and feelings toward the self. An eating disorder is already categorized as a mental illness therefore the body should be looked into for this field.
It is also not just about how the person looks, but how they move and how they feel when they move so it connects together and it is worth it to go deeper. When a person with a mental illness, for example an anxiety disorder, displays some of the symptoms including an out-of-body moment where they don’t feel connected to their body or the present time, it can be a frightening experience. I personally grew up with social anxiety, and I have had multiple out-of-body experiences during school days around other kids and it can be overwhelming. On a more medical side, the body and anxiety go hand-in-hand with other symptoms like shaking, shortness of breath and sometimes blacking out. Those are more extreme examples. Poor mental health does have a physical toll on the body, but it shows itself in different forms.
Another reason why studying the body can be influential in the mental health world, is by studying clothing and appearance, and how a person carries themselves. It does make sense why studying the body along with the mind is not the first thing people think of, because a lot of other factors are involved. Many people who are mentally ill take medication, and while the body is being examined when a person is on medication, it is studied from a physical point of view and not from a social point of view. Since we are social creatures, and many people who have a mental illness feel alienated or isolated, so focusing on the body could help reduce the feelings of loneliness. Since the mind and the body are connected it would be beneficial to focus on the body because it will help the mind, which then helps the person. If we are able to get people to imagine their bodies in healthy ways, for example people who have eating disorders, then it could be a step in the right direction to help ease their pain from the illness.
Overall, I believe we have learned alot about the body from studying the mind, and I think we can learn about the mind if we start to study the body.
For more information, here are some links and sources about the body and mental health:
Amelia Baucum is currently a senior at Old Dominion University pursuing a B.S. in Human Services with a minor in Women’s Studies. Her hobbies include photography, painting and watching movies. She plans to move out west after graduation hoping to continue working with photography.