Embodied identity--a deeper understanding of body awareness

Physiother Theory Pract. 2010 Oct;26(7):439-46. doi: 10.3109/09593980903422956.


The aims of this study were to explore and generate an understanding of the meaning of body awareness through explanations of the experience of body awareness given by professionals and patients in psychiatric rehabilitation. A total of 20 strategically selected healthy informants were interviewed individually and in groups. Thirteen previous interviews with physiotherapists and 11 previous interviews with patients in psychiatric rehabilitation, describing their experiences of body awareness therapy and its effects were reanalyzed and included in the data for this study; in all 44 informants were included. Grounded theory methods guided the data construction and analysis. A theoretical understanding was conceptualised from which a core category of body awareness emerged: the embodied identity. This core category was related to two categories: living in the body and living in relation to others and in society. The subcategory "living in the body" was conceived as an important aspect to become more aware of the body and to experience oneself fromwithin in order to recognize one's needs. A key point was the fact that bodily experiences always exists in the present moment. The experience of the body, the balance, and stability of the physical self were basic experiences that were connected to the conception of well-being and control. To understand one's emotions and needs through the awareness of the body were understood as the base for self-confidence, trust in one-self, and the ability to take care of oneself and one's needs physically and mentally. The subcategory "living in relation to others and in society" was conceived as an important aspect for the embodied self to interact with others and for societal participation. Working with the body in physiotherapy practice should include an understanding that body awareness is inseparable from the identity and may have an impact on the health of the individual. This implies that interventions to address problems in body awareness should be integrated into physiotherapy practice.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness*
  • Body Image*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Self Concept*