How to trust your body

Saga Briggs, ‘How to trust your body’,, Psyche, Aeon (23 NOVEMBER 2022)

Body trust is not just a folk concept – it’s also a scientific construct. It’s used to measure ‘interoception’, which is the process of sensing the body from within. Poor interoception is associated with a wide range of mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, depression and anxiety. Alongside questions about body trust, researchers measure people’s interoception by tapping seven further features, from ‘noticing’ to ‘attention regulation’ to ‘body listening’. Of these features, ‘low body trust’ has emerged as particularly relevant to mental health. (…) People who suffer from suicide ideation, eating disorders, loneliness, and depression often report feeling ‘unsafe’ or ‘not at home’ in their bodies, in addition to mistrusting their bodily signals. The reason for this connection isn’t yet clear, but one might speculate that if these people did feel safe enough to trust their bodily signals, doing so might lead to adaptive behaviour change and symptom reduction. Whatever the explanation, these findings suggest that body trust is crucial for wellbeing.