Oprimido Development

Initial thoughts on Phenomenology

It was suggest to me that I look in to the philosophical movement of phenomenology in relation to my work.

Phenomenology: the study of phenomena

Phenomena: stuff that happens

So, in layman’s terms:

Phenomenology: The study of stuff that happens

This initial research has brought up some interesting questions for me. Thinking about my piece, the starting point or founding thoughts for the piece, my experience and mental health/illness. I am becoming more curious about how they all linked.

When explaining the founding principals of phenomenology, Lewis and Staehler state:

“Phenomenology focuses not on what appears but on how it appears” [Lewis M. & Staehler T. 2010]

It is a look in to how experiences or things present themselves in the world.
The area that specifically interests me is the area or idea of the ‘lived body’. I mentioned Merleau-Ponty in my reflection of my last rehearsal. His work built on the initial phenomenological movement of Husserl and whom I have been researching further as he looks in depth at the idea of the lived body.

Merleau-Ponty believes, in order for the thing to be able to appear they have to appear to something ie. a person, which also means that person has to have a consciousness. The movement talks about how in order to experience this thing, this experience, the person has to have a physical body or they would not be able to experience or receive the thing that is presenting itself.

We wouldn’t have experiences if we didn’t have a body, at least not in the same way.

So, our body has to experience it in order for our mind to. Our body is the receiver. But more than that it also has feeling, a nervous system an intelligence in its own right. Another part of phenomenology is that the body and the mind are not two separate entities but they work together as one, which as a dancer I already know, understand and embody. Both parts need the other in order to experience.

From this my thinking went to mental health. My mental health issues came in part because of my experience. If we apply what has been explored above, the experience was experienced by the body, which was then process by the brain in a way in which was not healthy or caused trauma. I also know, from experience, that mental ill health is not just something we have in the mind but is experienced by the body as well, this connection of mind and body, and can create an output, usually in the form of movement. Therefore, there is this connection running from the world through the body to the mind then back to the body and out in to the world.

However, I have another question. What happens if the mental ill health started before the experience? The experience happened the same way and had the same connection through the body and mind. Did the mental ill health affect how the experience was experienced? Or how the experience was received and processed?

Then what if that mental ill health was started by another experience? Maybe it is just a cycle. And how does that fit with phenomenology? Does it fit?

As you can tell I still have a lot more research to do on this and look further in to the connection of this philosophical movement and mental health. These are just my initial thoughts on my research so far.


Lewis, M., & Staehler, T. (2010). Phenomenology: An introduction. London: Continuum.

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