Debauched Kinaesthesia

Your kinaesthesia is your sense of movement. Through your kinaesthetic sense, you know your position and how that is changing as you move. At least, you would if your kinaesthesia were reliable. Since it is probably faulty (very few people have a good kinaesthetic sense) you don't know - but you still think you know. Our kinaesthetic sense is so convincing that we will even believe it when we can see with our own eyes that it isn't right.

There is a very good reason why it is so difficult to disbelieve your kinaesthesia, debauched though it is: your experience proves that you were right to believe it. A debauched kinaesthesia is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'll repeat that: a debauched kinaesthesia is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
An example might help explain what I mean. Imagine that, while sitting yourself down, you feel in danger of falling backwards. What would you do to save yourself? I can tell you now: you would pull your head back, poke your neck forwards, arch your back and stiffen your knees. (I've seen it seen it happen thousands of times). By doing that, you throw yourself off balance, so that you have to stiffen (or grab hold of something) to avoid falling backwards.

There you are: you can now say that you knew all along that you were off balance. You are unlikely ever to discover that you would never have lost your balance if you hadn't reacted to feeling off-balance by throwing yourself over. Only don't bother doing it near a precipice.

No wonder so many people are afraid of heights!

How your Kinaesthesia gets Debauched

The process is usually so slow and gradual you don't notice it happening. It is also the rule rather than the exception. The average five-year-old is alert and full of life; the average fifteen-year-old is a permanent slouch. How many parents have not had to nag their teen-age children to "stand up straight"? The culprit is a deteriorating kinaesthesia.

The very worst thing you can do (sorry, parents) is to tell your child to "stand straight". The assumption behind this nagging is that the child is being lazy and letting himself or herself droop. In reality the bad posture is the result of muscle tension pulling the head, chest and shoulders down. This tightening happens every time the person moves: every time they stand up, sit down, turn their head, take a step, lift a hand - even every time they take a breath! This constant tightening is how they have become permanently "pulled down".

Why is this pulling down happening? The down-pulling tension feels like a necessary part of the movement - so necessary that if they are not allowed to do the tightening, they can't perform the movement. The result? If they so much as breathe, they tighten and pull down! (Since it feels like part of the movement, they don't even notice it happening).

So how does your kinaesthesia gets debauched? A small defect in the kinaesthetic sense always grows into a larger one - it never rights itself. The reason is simple: for it to right itself, the person would have to allow themselves once again to move as they used to move. Since that way of moving now feels wrong, to do it they would have to choose to move in a way that they now firmly believe to be wrong. Even if they have been alerted to this, they still can't allow the wrong-feeling movement to happen. Not without someone there to lead them through the movement and teach them to continue in the new way, all the time refusing to react to the sense that they are doing it wrong. Even then, the re-education is painfully slow.

Until you know all this by experience, it's very hard to understand, I know. Let me re-state the conclusion as simply as possible: because (to a debauched kinaesthesia) the right way to move seems wrong, to move correctly the person must choose to allow their movement to "be" fundamentally wrong. Unless they do, they will never move correctly again. Since, in practice, allowing your movement to be fundamentally wrong is impossible without expert help, without that help the problem can only get worse.

We have seen that, once it has begun to deteriorate, one's kinaesthetic sense can (without help) only get worse. How does the process begin? In many seemingly innocuous ways. To name a few:-

  1. The pain from an injury naturally makes one move differently. If this continues, we become used to the different movement and it comes to feel normal. When the injury has healed, the new movement pattern continues because, having gotten used to it, it now feels right. The old, right, movement now feels wrong.
  2. A person learns a new skill from another person. The other person's way of moving is copied because both teacher and pupil believe that the teacher's way is right. After all, the teacher can do it. However, no-one is perfect. Whatever small defects there are in the teacher's performance are passed on to the pupil who diligently copies them. In this way, small defects get magnified. More serious defects can create major problems for the pupil. The teacher could be anyone: (school teacher, parent, sibling, friend).
  3. Stress. Every time anything happens to startle you - a door slamming, somebody getting angry, brakes screeching, telephone ringing - you stiffen and "pull down". This is a perfectly natural reflex. If it takes a while to return to neutral, for that while, you move stiffly. The more often it happens, the more you get used to it. The new way of moving comes to feel "you" and the old way feels wrong.

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