chapter  5
Occupied territories and foreign parts: Reclaiming the body
Pages 20

The body is the primary seat for the development of the sense of self, as we saw in Chapter 3. It is also the primary site for meeting the other. As such the body imposes itself as both the incarnation of the self's identity and possibilities, and as the ineluctable proof of our interconnectedness with others. The question of the ownership of the body emerges in varied guises when working with patients who seek to modify their bodies. But this is not a problem reserved only for the patients we see. It is a problem we are all faced with. All our efforts at body modi®cation, including our daily grooming rituals, are manifestations of this central human dilemma: how to feel at home in one's body. This involves two related psychic processes. First, we need to come to terms with the fact of the shared corporeality of mother and baby ± the embodied version of psychic dependency ± that ties us to the mother in a most concrete manner. Second, from the moment of birth onwards, healthy development involves the gradual separation of our own body from that of the mother (Laufer 1968). Inevitably, this separation requires relinquishing the mother's libidinal grati®cation of the body. Being-in-a-body thus both confronts us simultaneously with our dependency on the other and with the loss of oneness with the other.