Manos Tsakiris on ‘Interoception: from homeostasis to self-awareness’
London Neuropsychoanalysis Group
Interoception: from homeostasis to self-awareness
Abstract: Modern psychology has long focused on the importance of the body as the basis of the self. However, this focus concerned the exteroceptive body, that is, the body as perceived from the outside, as when we recognize ourselves in the mirror. This influential approach has neglected another important dimension of the body, namely the interoceptive body, that is, the body as perceived from within, as for example when one feels her racing heart. In psychology, research on interoception has focused mainly on its role in emotion. Recent research, however, has attempted to go beyond this approach, aiming instead to show how interoception and interoceptive awareness serve the unity and stability of the self, analogous to the role of interoception in maintaining physiological homeostasis. My talk will consider such findings from studies on infants and adults as a means of going beyond the division between interoception and exteroception to consider their integration in self-awareness. This approach provides an alternative to existing psychological theories of the self insofar it goes beyond the apparent antagonism between the awareness of the self from the outside and from within, to consider their dynamic integration and inform us on how humans navigate the challenging balance between inside and out, in terms of both the individual’s natural (interoception vs. exteroception) and social (self vs. others) embodiment in the world.
Bio: Manos Tsakiris studied psychology and philosophy before completing his PhD (2006) in psychology and cognitive neurosciences at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL. In 2007 he joined the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is currently Professor of Psychology. His research is highly interdisciplinary and uses a wide range of methods to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms that shape the experience of embodiment and self-identity, and our social relations . He is the recipient of the 2014 Young Mind and Brain Prize, of the 22nd Experimental Psychology Society Prize and 2016 NOMIS Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award. Since 2016, he is leading the interdisciplinary Body & Image in Arts & Science (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, and since 2017 the INtheSELF ERC Consolidator project at Royal Holloway.