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Dr. Michelle Maiese Debuts Third Book, Embodied Selves and Divided Minds

Dr. Maiese’s newest publication.

Emmanuel College’s Philosophy professor Michelle Maeise published her third book, Embodied Selves and Divided Minds. In her latest publication, Maiese explores the connections between body and mind, and how these connections can help create new methods of treatment for schizophrenia.

On March 23, the Rare Book Room of the Cardinal Cushing Library was brimming with a captivated audience. As Maiese presented her book, she explained her theories about cognition and emotion, and the implications these have on body-oriented treatments for schizophrenia.

The argument that Maiese presents in Embodied Selves and Divided Minds is that affectivity and emotion are fully embodied, and cognition is closely bound with affectivity and emotion; therefore, cognition is fully embodied.

In other words, because we experience emotion relative to our body, and because our mental processes are so closely tied with emotion, we experience mental processes relative to our body.

In explaining the embodiment of emotion, Maiese gave examples of the figures of speech we use. When we say, ‘I was moved’ after experiencing something emotional, we are working to understand the emotion by relating it to our body. Emotions are abstract, so we comprehend them by making them physical.

Maiese argued that all cognition is intertwined with affectivity and emotion. Even in purely intellectual situations, such as a chess match, our cognition might be affected by hunger, fatigue, or other physical distractions.

Dr. Maiese interacts with her audience / Photo by Emery Veilleux ’20

Maiese wondered how this view can help us to make sense of schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia often experience a diminished sense of self. Maiese believes this can manifest physically in addition to mentally. People with schizophrenia are unable to tune out what is not important. They are overwhelmed with floods of stimuli; this results in common symptoms of schizophrenia such as feeling alienated from one’s body, a disrupted sense of self, and language disturbances and ‘word soup.’

Maiese’s next point considered the issue of treatment for schizophrenia. She believes that anti-psychotic medications can have nasty side effects, and are often themselves ineffective. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy has limitations on what it can accomplish.

Because schizophrenia disrupts the relationship between emotion, cognition, and the body, Maiese presents a holistic, “bottom-up” approach that ministers to the whole person. For specific practices, Maiese simply recommends yoga, dance movement therapy, and music therapy.

Currently, most resources for treatment are being directed towards medication. Maiese hopes that more resources will soon be allocated to this new type of treatment.

Intrigued audience members voice their questions / Photo by Emery Veilleux ’20

Though Maiese has studied and researches in the field of philosophy, she stated that further types of research and treatment should be completed and administered by psychologists. She added, though, her theory that this holistic treatment could also aid in phantom limb syndrome by recalibrating one’s body.

Maiese also encouraged already healthy people to embrace her treatment theory as a mood enhancer or personality enhancer. She suggested that widespread implementation of these practices would prevent people with schizophrenia from being marginalized.

An audience member asked whether or not Maiese followed this treatment herself. Maiese said, “I do dance a lot… In a sort of unofficial capacity,” which was met with laughter from the room.

Dr. Maiese’s complete works. Photo credit: Emery Veilleux ’20

Maiese conducts independent research in the philosophy of psychiatry and research theory. While classes are in session, Maiese said she spends about 10 hours a week researching and writing, but it becomes her full-time job over the summer. She is currently researching body-oriented modes of therapy for depression.

“I’ve loved writing since I was a kid. I think my favorite part is the initial brainstorming, when I just start typing out my thoughts and don’t bother worrying about how well-written it is,” said Maiese.

Maiese’s other publications include Embodiment, Emotion, and Cognition and Embodied Minds in Action, which she coauthored with Robert Hanna of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Emery Veilleux ’20 is the Assistant Managing Editor and a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at veilleuxe@emmanuel.com and on Twitter.

Posted by on March 30, 2017. Filed under Around Campus,Faculty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.