Embodiment & the Scaffolded Mind – Ep. 16
Melissa, Caleb, and Bridger continue their series on embodiment with “The Scaffolded Mind” by L. Williams, J. Huang, and J. Bargh.
- Every person’s individual experience is going to influence how they’re making sense of the world.
- Our body and mind function simultaneously.
- Humans have an efficient way of organizing experience and processing information.
- Importantly, this organization doesn’t rely on language alone.
- Instead, what is held in the body is referenced.
- This allows us to move into deep complexity and think much faster.
Embodiment and Scaffolding
Check out page 2 of the article for a thorough explanation of scaffolding.
- When an abstract concept is scaffolded onto a foundational concept these concepts become associated (page 2).
- Then, complex ideas are created as new stimuli and concepts are added.
- You’re able to mentally represent, or have an embodied sense, of these ideas.
- Intercontemplation and environmental exploration add to the accuracy and complexity of these mental representations.
- Babies constantly put things in their mouths as a form of environmental exploration.
- These little experiments improve their ability to correctly interact with their world.
- Importantly, scaffolding the brain and learning from physical to abstractions is an emergent process.
- In other words, when two physical sensations come together in my brain, they make complex meaning
- Eventually, this becomes “feels like a weight on my shoulders” or “spicy experience.”
Learning Through Our Bodies
- Melissa’s example of Nora licking the trampoline netting (9:19).
- As a child, you learn to make sense of the world through physical interactions with it.
- Genetic coding gives you some preset templates of how you experience stimuli.
- Through these genetic templates and physical interactions, you create mental structures to organize your lived experience.
- If we can learn to intentionally work with the body, it becomes a place of meaning-making and lesson learning.
- This is why somatic therapies work.
- To state it clearly, we can get more done therapeutically when we work directly with the body.
Embodiment and Abstractions
- Our brains make meaning of similar stimuli.
- This is true even when they don’t look similar on the outside.
- When exposed to new stimuli, we run through our existing templates to make sense of it.
- This means we don’t need to experience it personally to know what to expect from it.
- Sensorimotor experiences become the foundation for every abstract thought we have.
- Humans across cultures have unity around abstract concepts.
- This is because all humans have similar bodies to inhabit the world in and we understand the world through our bodies.
Scaffolding and Embodiment in Therapy
- Caleb and detached language (26:10).
- Remember, your mind is built upon your body and your physical experience.
- Therefore, there is a wealth of information in the clients embodied experience of a situation
- Melissa’s example of the wallflower (27:38).
- Remember, every function of the body is templated on previous experience.
- Even your mind, ideas, and thoughts are themselves so intimately and dependently connected to your physical experience.
- That link is so profound and strong it also works in the inverse.
- Melissa’s example of the feedback loop of information (30:38).
- Bridger’s example of Bear and his newborn daughter (35:24).
Williams, L. E., Huang, J. Y., & Bargh, J. A. (2009). The Scaffolded Mind: Higher mental processes are grounded in early experience of the physical world. European journal of social psychology, 39(7), 1257–1267. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.665
- Episode 2: Memories of Fear and the Neurosequential Model (Bruce Perry)
- Interested in reading the article? Find it here.
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Need more content?
- First, listen to our past episodes of EBT here
- Then, check out more Beyond Healing podcasts
- Notice That – An EMDR podcast
- Beyond Trauma – geared towards clients
- Burnt Out Educator (coming soon!)
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