A Phenomenological Analysis of Bodily Self-Awareness in the Experience of Pain and Pleasure: On Dys-Appearance and Eu-Appearance
Medicine, health care, and philosophy 2010 Nov; 13(4): 333-42
The aim of this article is to explore nuances within the field of bodily self-awareness. My starting-point is phenomenological. I focus on how the subject experiences her or his body, i.e. how the body stands forth to the subject. I build on the phenomenologist Drew Leder's distinction between bodily dis-appearance and dys-appearance. In bodily dis-appearance, I am only prereflectively aware of my body. My body is not a thematic object of my experience. Bodily dys-appearance takes place when the body appears to me as "ill" or "bad." This is often the case when I experience pain or illness. Here, I will examine three versions of bodily dys-appearance. Whereas many phenomenological studies have explored cases of bodily dys-appearance, few studies have focused on the opposite of bodily dys-appearance, i.e. on bodily modes of being where the body appears to the subject as something good, easy or well. This is done in this article. When the body stands forth as good, easy or well to the subject, I suggest that the body eu-appears to this person. The analysis of eu-appearance shows that the subject can attend to her or his body as something positive and that this attention need not result in discomfort or alienation. Eu-appearance can take place in physical exercise, in sexual pleasure and in some cases of wanted pregnancies. I also discuss, briefly, the case of masochism.
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