Body memory, metaphor and movement

Body memory, metaphor and movement. Ed. by Sabine C. Koch, Thomas Fuchs, Michela Summa, and Cornelia Müller (Advances in consciousness research 84.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012. Pp. vii, 468. ISBN 9789027213501. $149 (Hb).

Reviewed by Daria Dayter, University of Bayreuth

This book on embodiment provides a cognitive linguistic perspective in work by psychologists and clinical practitioners.

The first part subsumes contributions from phenomenologists, opening with an overview of forms of body memory by Thomas Fuchs. In the two following chapters, Michela Summa examines the role of body memory in the process of meaning formation, and Maxine Sheets-Johnstone argues for the primacy of kinaesthetic memory in our everyday existence. Eugene T. Gendlin addresses Fuchs’ earlier article on body memory and proposes an expanded model of time as ‘carrying forward’. The last two chapters in this section take a Husserlian approach to body memory: Elizabeth A. Behnke focuses on traumatic body memory that she labels ‘enduring’, and Mónica E. Alarcón Dávila demonstrates that in dance, the body has a spatial and a temporal constitution.

Opening the second part of the book, which comprises contributions from cognitive science,  Petra Jansen proposes some first steps towards empirical measurements of implicit body memory. Christina Bermeitinger and Markus Kiefer discuss the role of concepts in the embodiment approach to cognition. The chapter by Christina Jung and Peggy Sparenberg reviews cognitive perspectives on embodiment, and Caterina Suitner, Sabine C. Koch, Katharina Bachmeier, and Anne Maass expand the topic by describing three empirical studies that test hypotheses about dynamic embodiment. Sabine C. Koch follows with another experimental study designed to test Fuchs’ taxonomy of body memory. The link between metaphor and body memory is investigated in contributions by Claudia Böger and by Astrid Kolter, Silva H. Ladewig, Michela Summa, Cornelia Müller, Sabrina C. Koch, and Thomas Fuchs. William Sax and Karin Polit employ anthropological methodology to study body memory in cases of spirit possessions in the Western Himalayas, while Ralf P. Meyer approaches the subject from the perspective of modern neuroscience.

The theoretical contributions above receive an applied rendering in the final part of the book. Christine Caldwell makes a case for clinical movement therapy based on the importance of sensorimotor processing for implicit body memory. The application of movement therapy to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is the subject of the contribution by Marianne Eberhard-Kaechele. Päivi Pylvänäinen reports observations on a clinical dance/movement therapy group at a psychiatric outpatient clinic. Heidrun Panhofer, Helen Payne, Timothy Parke, and Bonnie Meekums argue for the usefulness of embodied perceptual practices in therapy when painful experiences cannot be expressed through traditional verbal means. Yona Shahar-Levy presents her theory of emotorics that strives to reconstruct subjective meaning embedded in memory fragments. The technique of authentic movement is recommended by Ilka Konopatsch and Helen Payne for patients with medically unexplained symptoms. In the three following chapters, Helle Winther and then Sabine C. Koch and Steve Harvey deal with dance and movement therapy, and Johannes Michalak, Jan M. Burg, and Thomas Heidenreich take up the subject of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Elmar Kruithoff addresses the experiential practices derived from Gendlin’s philosophy of the implicit: focusing and felt sensing.

The editors conclude the book by summarizing the state of the art in body memory research and call for further investigation of the related phenomena.