Mind Over Matter

Butler spends a good amount of time destabilizing certain concepts that are traditionally conceived in dichotomous or binary terms. While one can likely posit a credible argument against any of the common binaries we find in the Gender Studies field, one particular dichotomy is especially relevant when it comes to health and physical well being.

The idea of the “mind/body” split has been taken up by coaches, personal trainers, and even doctors as a means of convincing people that their mind is more rational, intelligent, and knowledgeable than their bodies. So, following this logic, most people carry the belief that their bodies are less crucial to their well being than their minds.

There are several glaring problems with this line of thinking, but (just for everyone’s sanity) we’ll stick with the problems this causes for athletes, especially those competing at an elite level.

Most athletes have probably heard the term “mind over matter” frequently throughout their careers. Pushing through pain is one thing, but all too often athletes are encouraged to completely ignore the information their bodies are giving in favor of employing mental techniques to enable them to continue to perform. This might be effective for finishing out a game or a race, but the end result can be a permanently debilitating injury and a learned lack of sensitivity to crucial bodily signals.

In fact, the latter effect is also seen in many persons with an eating disorder. They are so focused on the cognitive and emotional aspects of their situation that they train their brain to stop responding when their bodies are conveying essential messages.

Basically, nobody wants to feel pain or discomfort. And given the fact that these are the most easily recognized bodily sensations, it is understandable that one would want to think of their body as less important than their brain. But, not only are the mind and body mutually dependent, one is no more valuable than the other.

-Mika Baugh



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