Intrapsychic Taxonomy: Interactions of Body, Mind, and Spirit

In figure one, each of the three aspects of self overlaps the other two. The four areas of overlap represent, in set theory, the union of mind and body, the union of body and spirit, the union of mind and spirit, and the union of mind, body and spirit. These represent sets of needs and agencies which can be characterized as not fitting cleanly into any one of the primary aspects of self, but instead representing an interaction and interdependency of those aspects. These are transitional points in the taxonomy, where are expressed the interrelatedness, interdependency and interaction of the aspects of self. These points of interdependency are of very high importance in the taxonomy, and especially so when it is used as a model.

Figure One: Intrapsychic Taxonomy

Figure One. Intrapsychic Taxonomy.

Union body and mind (MB). The needs and agencies of MB are both psychological and physical in nature. Maslow’s safety needs fit here—the perception that the body is safe. Agencies here include procedural knowledge—knowing how to use the body to do various tasks useful towards meeting various kinds of needs. On the other hand, pure semantic knowledge—facts in your head—are in the sector of mind. Procedural knowledge begins to accumulate before semantic knowledge, as we discover by trial and error and by observation how to do various things.

Union body and spirit (SB). Needs in SB are both physical and spiritual in nature, including our need to experience a connectedness with something larger than ourselves. The difference between this connectedness in spirit and in SB is that in SB we experience a physical connectedness with others; it is the way body experiences connectedness. Note the overlap of SB with mind. This overlap enables us to be consciously aware of that connectedness and to experience empathy with others.

Maslow’s belonging and love needs fit here. Agencies here are those which provide the means for experiencing this feeling of connectedness, including our interpersonal skills and our social support resources. In infancy, our connectedness to family is our spiritual self. Churches provide us a threshold to spirituality from body-self through inclusion in the faith community. This broadening of focus on our connectedness to others and to God results in a lessening of focus on body matters and needs and an opening towards spiritual receptivity.

Union mind and spirit (MS). Needs in MS are both cognitive and spiritual in nature. These needs include the aesthetic needs—the needs to see beauty and order, and the agencies of this sector include those directed towards being able to perceive and appreciate that beauty and order. Some of Maslow’s meta-needs fit here, as well as the means to satisfy them. Churches provide us a threshold to spirituality from mind-self through the use of art, music and ritual, all appealing to needs of SB. As we appreciate these aesthetic experiences, we also experience a lessening of focus on mind matters and needs, and an opening towards spiritual receptivity.

Union body, mind and spirit (SMB). Where all three aspects of self overlap, we find SMB. Aesthetic skills reside here—the ability to perceive beauty and to recreate it using dance, song, playing a musical instrument, to draw or paint pictures. At the center of the figure, it is also our core of being, and when we are here, we are truly centered. It is in our nature to seek wholeness, and wholeness implies that we can fully engage all aspects of self. Ideally, this is where we operate from most of the time; we are experiencing self actualization when we are involving all three aspects of self in what we are doing. When we are engaging all three aspects of our selves, we enjoy transcendent experiences.

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