Thomas Fuchs & Michela Summa
Body memory designates our implicit consciousness of the past, as it is interwoven with bodily experience. One first crucial distinction to be made in order to define the phenomenon of body memory, thus, concerns explicit and implicit memory. The former entails both autobiographic memory (the voluntary presentification of our previous experiences), and semantic memory (the recollection of acquired information). The latter, on the contrary, is not based on explicit acts of recollection, but entails different forms of pre-reflective “consciousness” of the past. The past, in this case, is not voluntarily represented; it rather has an impact on our present, and tacitly informs the concrete unfolding of our experience without our being explicitly aware of this process. Body memory, therefore, encompasses both the bodily habitualities, and the involuntary emergence of memory-images that are strictly related to our bodily experience.
In this part of the project, we aim to provide an accurate analysis of the different forms of bodily memory, thereby developing an appropriate taxonomy to address these phenomena. Phenomenological philosophy is the theoretical and methodological background of this inquiry. We further engage phenomenology in a constructive dialogue with the cognitive, neuroscientific, and psychopathological approaches to the topic. This theoretical investigation is complemented by empirical, qualitative and quantitative inquiries (for instance realized by means of interviews with traumatized patients).
On the basis of our descriptive analyses, we particularly address the following key-issues:
What is the role of body memory in enabling the development of bodily habitualities and the acquaintance with particular perceptual and experiential patterns?
How can we describe the relation between the emergence of affectively charged body memories and traumatic experiences?
How can the emergence of these memories be expressed in language? What is the role of metaphors, gestures, movements and other non-linguistic expressions for the communications of these memories?
Which layers of self-experience are concerned by bodily memory disorders? And how is bodily memory affected in particular pathologies (for instance: schizophrenia, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder)?
What is the impact of body memory disorders in the I-thou relation and in other intersubjective experiences?