Tag Archives: information

The Somatic Dimension

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Perception.

So far we’ve been looking primarily at the perception of information impinging on you from the outside world. But human experience involves more than that. You are a physical being, with a physical body that moves through space and interacts with the world around you, physically and in other ways. You assess situations, make choices, and carry out actions. Your experience encompasses all of those things — your body, your movement, and your interaction with the world. Any description of how you compose your experience must take those dimensions into account as well.

I’ll use the term somatic to refer to those aspects of experience that relate to physicality. The term comes from the Greek word soma, meaning body, in contrast to psyche, meaning mind. Its dictionary meaning is “relating to the body as distinct from the mind,” though a shading of its meaning in the direction of “relating to the experience of living in a body” has been coming into common use in recent years. That latter meaning is more in keeping with my use of the term.

Our previous approximation for the Perceptual Process model focused on information coming in from the outside. Let’s now add the somatic information flows within the body and from the body back to the outside world. In the schematic below, these flows are labeled motor stream, proprioceptive stream, and external effects.

Continue reading The Somatic Dimension