Chapter 1. The phenomenology of body memory

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Memory comprises not only one’s explicit recollections of the past, but also the acquired dispositions, skills, and habits that implicitly influence one’s present experience and behavior. This implicit memory is based on the habitual structure of the lived body, which connects us to the world through its operative intentionality. The memory of the body appears in different forms, which are classified as procedural, situational, intercorporeal, incorporative, pain, and traumatic memory. The life-long plasticity of body memory enables us to adapt to the natural and social environment, in particular, to become entrenched and to feel at home in social and cultural space. On the other hand, the structures accrued in body memory are an essential basis of our experience of self and identity: The individual history and peculiarity of a person is also expressed by his or her bodily habits and behavior. Finally, sensations or situations experienced by the lived body may function as implicit memory cores, which, under suitable circumstances, can release their enclosed content, as in Proust’s famous madeleine experience. This unfolding or explication of body memory is of particular importance for therapeutic approaches working with bodily experience.


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