Changes in a person’s physique may significantly influence their sense of self, highlighting the intricate relationship between the body and the self. According to embodiment theories, the body and the self are intricately intertwined, with bodily changes having the capacity to impact our experiences, thoughts, and emotions. This essay will analyze how changes in the body may affect the self, as well as any potential consequences. According to theories of embodiment, the body and the self are inextricably intertwined, and changes to the body may affect our experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Consequently, changes in the body may have significant effects on the self.
Merleau Ponty’s ideas on embodiment have been addressed in the field of philosophy. Merleau-Ponty asserts that the body is essential to one’s identity and relationships with the outside world (Toadvine, 2016). Similarly, feminist theorists such as Susan Bordo argue that the body is a site of social construction and that societal norms and expectations shape our views of our bodies and identities. According to cognitive science, the brain is largely responsible for self-definition, not the body. For instance, neuroplasticity research has shown that the brain may alter its self-perception in reaction to physical changes such as prosthetic limbs or blindness (Frey et al., 2020). However, it is essential to recognize that modifying the body may equally transform the self. Individuals undergoing gender transition, for example, often experience a profound shift in their sense of self when their body conforms to their gender identity. Those who have lost limbs or experienced other physical infirmities may alter their self-perception as they adjust to their new bodies.
Changes in physical capabilities and limitations are one manner in which alterations to the body may affect an individual (Ogden, 2019). For instance, being unable to engage in previously important activities owing to a physical disability or illness may substantially impact one’s sense of self. For example, if a knee injury prevents a runner from running, they may feel a profound loss of identity. The loss of physical ability may also have a negative impact on a person’s self-worth and feeling of value. According to embodiment theories, our experiences, ideas, and emotions are affected by changes in our physical bodies and are closely linked. According to the Embodiment theory, for instance, our sense of self, self-concept, and sensation of action are all significantly impacted by our physical appearance. Consequently, bodily changes may significantly impact who we are since they affect our ability to do tasks and the way our experiences and emotions mold us.
Alterations in appearance are another way the body may affect one’s sense of self-worth. For example, as we age, our bodies change, and we may acquire wrinkles, gray hair, and other signs of aging. Some people may find these changes tough because they may believe they no longer seem as they would want or are no longer attractive. Similar to how weight changes, such as weight gain or loss, may significantly impact a person’s self-esteem. This is because being overweight is often connected with being healthy and attractive, and weight swings may lead to feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem. According to theories of embodiment, our experiences, thoughts, and emotions are molded by changes in our physical bodies and are closely tied to one another. According to the Enactive theory, for instance, the self and the body are mutually constitutive, which means that our sense of self is molded by how we experience and interact with the physical world. Consequently, appearance changes may substantially impact how we feel about ourselves since they might alter our physiological experiences (Albertson et al., 2015).
However, some people have contradictory perspectives on the same problem. One argument against the notion that the self is different from the body is that changes to the body do not necessarily influence the self. According to this view, the self comprises multiple mental and emotional components independent of changes in the physical body and transcend beyond the physical body alone.
In contrast to one’s physical body, the self is a product of one’s environment and experiences, according to a second argument. According to this viewpoint, social and cultural influences are much more than the physical body shape of the person. The body may impact how an individual sees and interacts with the outside world, but it does not define an individual in isolation.
Others argue that the self is not a static entity but always evolving and changing and that bodily changes result only from this development. Therefore, although it may be challenging to adapt to bodily changes, the self is not fundamentally affected. Embodiment is a cultural construction, which means that different cultures may see the relationship between the body and the self differently, and changes to the body may not always have the same effect on the self.
Responding to Objections
Since a person’s sense of self and connection with their physical body are connected, changes to the body directly affect the individual. Changes in an individual’s physiology may substantially influence their self-perception, ideas about themselves, and interactions with the outside world (Fox & Magnus, 2014). A person’s physical characteristics considerably influence how they perceive and interact with their surroundings. The self is a dynamic entity that continuously changes and evolves in response to many internal and external events. It is not a fixed entity. Therefore, altering the body may not necessarily result in altering the self, but it may be one of numerous contributing variables.
According to theories of embodiment, the body and the self are inextricably intertwined, and changes in the body may significantly affect the self. Physical capabilities, limitations, appearance, and mental health changes may impact our experiences, thoughts, and emotions. It is crucial to realize how bodily changes impact oneself and provide assistance to anybody with difficulty adjusting to these changes.
Albertson, E. R., Neff, K. D., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E. (2015). Self-compassion and body dissatisfaction in women: A randomized controlled trial of a brief meditation intervention. Mindfulness, pp. 6, 444–454.
Fox, K. R., & Magnus, L. (2014). Self-esteem and self-perceptions in sport and exercise. In Routledge companion to sport and exercise psychology (pp. 34-48). Routledge.
Frey, V. N., Butz, K., Zimmermann, G., Kunz, A., Höller, Y., Golaszewski, S., … & Nardone, R. (2020). Effects of rubber hand illusion and excitatory theta burst stimulation on tactile sensation: a pilot study. Neural Plasticity, 2020.
Ogden, J. (2019). Health Psychology, 6e. McGraw Hill.
Toadvine, T. (2016). Maurice Merleau-Ponty.