After reading this article you will learn about the relationship between human body and mind.
The bodily organs form the basis for all behaviour. Whether an individual walks or talks or runs or reads, the body is invariably involved in all actions. Therefore, it is essential that students of psychology understand the importance and the role of different body organs in behaviour.
The relationship between the functioning of the human body and human behaviour had led early philosophers to bestow a lot of attention on the relationship between the body and the mind. Broadly speaking these approaches could be categorized into dualistic and monistic theories.
The dualistic theorists held that the body and mind were two different entities and were of different natures. On the other hand, the monistic theorists believed that the body and mind were not different entities and were of the same nature. Monistic theorists were again of two opinions. One group denied that there was anything called mind and held that all activities and actions involved only the body.
Such a view was called physical monism. On the other hand, the other group held that the mind is the only entity and the body was not real. Such a view was called psychical monism. Today, by and large, dualistic theories have come to stay and monistic theories are scarcely accepted in psychology.
Even if dualistic theories are accepted and we agree that the body and mind are two different entities, there remains the problem of the relationship between the two in behaviour. Questions can be raised about whether the body is more important or the mind, or which is primary and which is secondary. Philosophical psychologists advanced two types of explanations.
The first type known as psychophysical interactionism held that the body and mind interact and influence each other. Their relative importance and primacy varies from behaviour to behaviour. Such a view was very strongly advocated by the philosopher Rene Descartes who is regarded as the father of modern philosophy.
On the other hand, prominent philosophers like Leibnitz advocated the view that the body and mind are parallel to each other and are independent of each other. Such a view was known as psychophysical parallelism. Today, by and large, the interactionist view has found greater acceptance than the parallelistic view.
Fortunately, since modern psychology is no more defined as the science of the mind, many of these controversies became irrelevant and not important. Contemporary psychology is no more interested in such philosophical problems and studies behaviour in its totality and not separately as bodily processes and behavioural processes. The term ‘behaviour’, takes into account all components of behaviour.
The distinction between body and mind is, therefore, of only historical interest. But still there is some degree of disagreement. Some psychologists hold the view that ultimately it should be possible to explain all aspects of behaviour in terms of bodily processes whereas others do not subscribe to this. The latter group firmly believes that at no time will it be possible to explain behaviour completely in terms of bodily processes.
It is sufficient to say that modern psychology is very actively concerned with the role of bodily processes in behaviour and also the effect of psychological processes on the functioning of the body.