About us

As a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, philosophers, inventors, and artists, our research institute focuses on understanding 'Body Dis*Ownership' (BO) and its underlying questions:

Do you have a body? Are you a Body? Are you making your body?

Our philosophy

Better research through empathy. We at the Body Map Institute believe in changing perspectives to get at the heart of things. Solid research is our fundamental basis - empathy is what makes us understand even deeper.

Our goals

We want to map the emotional and cognitive processes behind Body Dis*Ownership in the understanding that thoughts and feelings cannot be separated from the body.

We identify with our body and we identify our body as our "own". But what happens when this feeling of "mine-ness" collapses? To answer this question we have developed the 'Pearl on a String Theory' - a mile-stone of our institute thus far.

We study Body Ownership in three ways:

We believe that bodies are social events and not clearly-outlined selves. To understand the complexity of how we relate to "our" body, we take different paths reflecting our multidisciplinary background:

Analyzing the existing literature:

Body Ownership is a vibrant field of research and there are many different definitions of the same term – across the globe. Our goal is to propose a theoretical framework that can bridge these gaps and summarize the different states of how we identify with our bodies.

Conducting explorative interviews:

By virtue of the simplicity of its name, 'Body Ownership' is a term that many people can relate to an immediate level. This has sparked our curiosity: In what way can we further understand the many facets of Body Ownership by opening our institute to direct conversations with experts and laypeople alike?

Movement-based research and outreach-workshops

Next to our academic research we conduct body-based and movement-based research. We believe that we can only understand the body better when leaving our office chair.

The Pearl on a String Theory

Body Ownership is not a yes-or-no-thing; it is a "matter of degree" (F. de Vignemont, 2010). So, how can we visualize the many stages of Body Ownership?

The Body Map Institute's proposed answer to this question is the Pearl on a String Theory: By using the simple allegory of a pearl gliding on a string, researchers can use this theoretical framework to compare different states of Body Dis-Ownership and position their own work in relation to others.

For instance, both ends of the string may represent the feeling of being connected (e.g. states of meditation) or disconnected (e.g. states of dissociation and trauma). States that fall in between these extremes can be located as a pearl-position in relation to others.

To further account for the complexity of Body Ownership, this image of the pearl on a string can be expanded: What if we connect the two ends of the string? Or make a mobile of many linked strings all representing different aspects of Body Ownership.

The Pearl on a String Theory, therefore, strives to describe the myriad of human (body) identities in a clear and simple image.

Are you ready to talk about Body Ownership? Here we go!