Mind Body Separation


In Western civilisation we tend to separate and treat mind and body separately.  The origins of this can be traced back to Renee Descartes (1596 - 1650) who is responsible for the famous quote: "I think therefore I am". Descartes' philosophy enabled science to be accepted within the christian philosophical framework by acknowledging a disconnection between the human spirit, or intellect (where science is conducted) and the human body. From then onwards, scientific knowledge was able to progress with only minor friction with Christian beliefs and most major scientists were dedicated Christians. Confidence in Western duality, which pushed European civilization inexorably forward for several centuries, was seriously questioned in the 1960's with the small cultural revolution that occurred when Eastern, New Age and various other philosophies which negate the mind-body split flooded the idea market.

Definition of Mind and body separation

Western science has developed along a course which includes a separation between mind and body. 

Education is seen as largely a cognitive process that does not require the use of the body, which can be 'parked' in quite a neutral (seated) position for the duration of the learning experience. There is no notion that position/mobility/exercise of the body may help in the absorption and retention of intellectual material.

Psychotherapy for the treatment of behavioural/mental problems consists mostly of cognitive solutions such as talking with or changing thought patterns. There is little idea that the body may be the vessel for as much of a person's psychological disorder as the mind.

Doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and other health professionals treat body problems by dealing with the body as a physical instrument. They do not acknowledge the role of the mind or the user in any physical problems that occur. The mind of the patient or how they may have led themselves to use their body in a manner which led to their injury is not included in their training or knowledge. Nor are patients given any guidance in how to avoid future problems. The body is seen as an item separate from the mind.

Benefits of this definition

The mind body separation that has occurred in Western society has clearly shaped the way that we provide health services.  Understanding how we got to where we are helps in taking the next step forward.

The main event

For the sake of emotional fitness, mind and body should be seen as one and the same. Any mental event may have immediate or delayed effect on the body.  Any body action or condition may have immediate or delayed effect on the mind.  The way we think affects the way we use our body and the way we use our body affects what we think.  The two are inseparable.

Mental events (thoughts) do not occur in some rarefied dimension independent of the natural world.  Thoughts occur along neural pathways in the brain; physical connections which are grown through intellectual stimulation.  Thoughts have a physical dimension.  They occur in the natural world.  They occur in the brain, which is part of the body.


When an elite sports person trains, they do so in methodological steps, starting from novice level.  Those steps using consist of some theory from the coach, which they apply, often clumsily until the theory becomes ingrained and no longer needs to be mentally articulated.  As weeks turn into months and into years, each new and more advanced bit of theory is turned into muscle memory or some such during which the sports person 'learns' what they are being told and is able to implement without needing to think.  Ultimately when on top of their game, the elite sports person acts as a whole, mind and body in unison.  He/she does not need to mentally retrace all the theoretical steps required to apply their skill.  Mind and body are one.

The same can be applied to any skill, be it music, oratory, pottery or anything else.

Challenge to audience

It would be beneficial to view psychological disorders with a perspective that sees mind and body as one and the same.