Sep 23 2013

Body Image and Giving the Finger

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8 Responses to “Body Image and Giving the Finger”

  1. locutusbrgon 23 Sep 2013 at 9:53 am

    This study reminds me of pediatric suturing. If you secure an toddler to repair a finger laceration and numb the extremity, the extremity disappears underneath the sterile covering and appears visually to the child in the middle of the sterile field. They will go from abject terror(while numbing) to interested observer. They lose the ability to understand that the hand is theirs since they cannot feel it plus the visual illusion. The lack of object permanence in the young child shows how their brain reconstructs a reality where someone else’s hand is getting sutured. The child calms down(most times) and intently watches the procedure. Interesting that you can pull the similar result in adults.

  2. tmac57on 23 Sep 2013 at 11:53 am

    While doing some ‘herbal research’ back in the mid 70′s, I devised an experiment where I and a friend of mine who had similar a appearance,sat in identical chairs at right angles to each other with a barrier in between such that we could not see each other.Then I placed a tall door mirror in such a manner that as we sat in our chairs,we could see the other person,but it had the illusion that you were looking straight into a mirror and seeing yourself.Next we took turns initiating slow gestures that the other could mimic (ala the famous Lucy and Harpo Marx routine).It was an extremely weird and funny illusion that became very real for the person who was not the mimic.

    Ahhhh…good times :)

  3. superdaveon 23 Sep 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Cool!

  4. TheFlyingPigon 23 Sep 2013 at 7:10 pm

    locutusbrg, So the toddlers generally weren’t concerned that their arm or hand had gone missing?

  5. ccbowerson 23 Sep 2013 at 10:15 pm

    TheFlyingPig-

    Most toddlers have a fairly good understanding of object permanence. I do not doubt locutusbrg’s experience as much as the explanation. I’m sure that not feeling the pain and altering of the typical visual perspective reduces the fear of the toddler, but I question the idea that the fear is reduced because they no longer think that they have the limb that is covered (which is what alluding to object permanence implies).

  6. Bruce Woodwardon 24 Sep 2013 at 5:13 am

    I find this fascinating and is a great post.

    I do worry, however, that this research could be used by self help quacks and “prove” their point that you can create your own reality by thinking positive and pretending to pet puppies etc.

    I guess all research can be twisted if you try hard enough and what this demonstrates is how we really have to be careful in analysing even what our brain is telling us.

  7. locutusbrgon 24 Sep 2013 at 4:39 pm

    @ theflyingpig.

    I am guessing but only the finger is numb, and they can still feel their hand. Since it is immobilized they become so engrossed with watching that the just kind of go with it.

    @ccbowers I would disagree. Small children (and many adults) flinch and struggle when you approach with a suture needle. It is instinctive. Demonstrating that the finger is numb(by poking with a needle), does not alleviate the distress in a little child. Even after multiple sutures that do not produce pain they respond strongly every time the needle approaches. Same as in suture sites much closer to the torso. You immobilize the child, numb them and then cover the extremity and they passively accept and watch the suturing. It is anecdote I admit but there is no way that small child will accept that the needle will not hurt when it is approaching their skin. It is reasonable to assume by the relaxed fascinated observation that they think they are watching something happening to someone else. Object permanence age is in itself a controversial subject. But the key factor is applying the sterile field, without it you get continued resistance. For those lay persons reading this, the hand comes out through a square hole in the center of a larger square of sterile disposable covering. The key factor is the visual disconnect of the covered arm and the hand through the center. A average size field will cover most of toddlers extremity. Showing them that they cannot feel the needle does not produce the same response. It may not be object permanence but more in line with the post above where the brain is drawing a picture from multiple sensory lines that make the child think it is not them getting the needle.

    Discussion of this anecdote that has actually spurred me on to consider researching this officially.

  8. ccbowerson 24 Sep 2013 at 10:13 pm

    “It is reasonable to assume by the relaxed fascinated observation that they think they are watching something happening to someone else. Object permanence age is in itself a controversial subject.”

    A lack of object permanence in this senario would imply that the toddler does not realize that his or her limb exists anymore, and this is not what you are arguing to begin with. The age at which object permanence begins is somewhat controversial as you say, but the trend had been identifying the ability at younger and younger ages.

    “The key factor is the visual disconnect of the covered arm and the hand through the center. A average size field will cover most of toddlers extremity. Showing them that they cannot feel the needle does not produce the same response.”

    I agree with what you are saying, but my point it that it has little to do with the concept of object permanence. Even as an adult, I imagine that the visual disconnect of the covering would probably alleviate my own anxiety somewhat, and I believe my understanding of object permanence is fully developed. In the past, I have just closed my eyes and this had alleviated the fear response.

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