The physicality of the self
The submitted publications address aspects of 'The Physicality of the Self from a psychoanalytic perspective and in so doing extend the remit of psychoanalytic thinking. Conscious and unconscious investment of personal meaning in physical exercise, body-oriented behaviour and physical dimensions of experience and communication is explored through presentation and discussion of clinical case examples and infant observation material. The embodied nature of our being is identified as an issue of key significance in psychoanalysis, where unconscious communication, much of which is non-verbal, is a central concern of both theory and practice. Ways of conceptualising psychosomatic disturbance are discussed, whether the disturbance emerges in physical symptoms without apparent organic underlay or in disturbed body-oriented behaviour such as eating disorders and self-injury. With regard to clinical practice, the central significance of receptivity to unconscious communication and capacity for containment (Bion 1962) is reaffirmed. The therapist's 'use of body' as part of the 'use of self Is discussed with particular reference to somatic communication in the transference - countertransference matrix. The primary context for the work is a contemporary object relations framework. The perspective on embodiment or'indwelling' developed by D. W. Winnicott and the post- Kleinian concept of 'psychic skin' are of particular Importance. The disciplines of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and sociology constitute a secondary, broader, context and inform the discussion of changing perspectives on 'mind', 'body', 'health' and'illness'. A'continuum' model of self-care and self-harm is developed. The acronym 'cashas' is introduced to refer to 'culturally accepted self-harming acts/activities', behaviours which occupy a border area between good enough self-care and clinically relevant self-harm. Drawing on clinical material and research Involving practitioner discussion of clinical vignettes, arguments are advanced for the relevance and clinical usefulness of the 'continuum' model.