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Mindful : April 2019
woman who had lost only the sensory dimension of bodily experience due to an unusual and very rare polyneuritis (inflammation) of the sensory roots of her spinal and cranial nerves. This inflammation, unfor- tunately, extended through- out the woman’s nervous system. It was caused, in all likelihood and quite hor- rifically, by treatment with an antibiotic administered prophylactically in the hos- pital in advance of routine surgery for gallstones. All this woman, whom Sacks called Christina, was left being able to feel was light touch. She could sense the breeze on her skin riding in an open convert- ible and she could sense temperature and pain, but even these she could only experience to an attenu- ated deg ree. She had lost all sense of having a body, of being in her body, of → We know that it is possible to lose the felt sense of the body or parts of it through traumatic injury. In spinal cord injuries, the nerves communicat- ing between the body and the brain can be severely injured or severed com- pletely. In such situations, as a rule, the person is paralyzed as well as being unable to feel his or her body in those areas con- trolled by the spinal nerves below the break. Both the sensory and the motor pathways between brain and body and body and brain are affected. The actor Christopher Reeve, who died in 2004, sus- tained such an injury to his neck when he was thrown from a horse. A number of years ago, the neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died in 2015, described meeting a young BODY OF Knowledge They carry us through the world, but how often do we really listen to our bodies? A whole universe of wonder awaits when we do. PHOTOGRAPHBYTK 64 mindful April 2019 PHOTOGRAPHBYJOVOJOVANOVIC body awareness