Adapted Self in the Context of Disability: An Ecological, Embodied Perspective

  • Namitha A. Kumar
  • Sangeetha Menon


This chapter focuses on the “ecological self” which is concerned with the relationship of the physical self and the physical environment. The ecological self is based on perception, that is, the perceiving of information from the position of the body embedded in the physical world. The ecological self also provides clues to mental states as tied to their physical embeddings. The objective of this chapter is to propose a new concept, which we wish to term as “adapted self” in the context of disability. As sentient beings, all humans have to adapt to the world of physical and psychological spaces. In the case of subjects negotiating the corporeal experience of either physical/sensory disability, adaptation is complex. The physical body has to adapt to the physical environment and take adaptive steps to negotiate altered physical and sensory environmental conditions. The experience of disability is complex and does not end with physicality of the body. The self as the experiencer has to adapt to the psychological factors relating to disability – to structural and psycho-emotional disablism that is inevitable in a normative society which upholds and preserves the concept of the “normal body”. The “adapted self” in such contexts functions as an organizer and the executive of the multilevel adaptations made within the physical and psychological environment. Ecological self is the central basis for the “adapted self” enabling the disabled subject in the process of adjustment and adaptation.


Physical Environment Psychological Control Physical Body Body Relatedness Body Perception 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References and Bibliography

  1. Adaptation, N. (2012). Retrieved October 10, 2012, from
  2. Allport, G. W. (1943). The ego in contemporary psychology. Psychological Review, 50(5), 451–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altabe, M., & Thompson, J. K. (1996). Body image: A cognitive self-schema. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 20(2), 171–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arciero, G., & Bondolfi, G. (2009). Selfhood, identity and personality styles. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bamberg, M., De Fina, A., & Schiffrin, D. (Eds.). (2007). Selves and identities in narratives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. (1999). Self in social psychology: Key readings. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bermúdez, J. L. (1998). The body and the self. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bermúdez, J. L. (2000). The paradox of self-consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Butterworth, G., & Cicchetti, D. (1978). Visual calibration of posture in normal and motor retarded Down’s syndrome infants. Perception, 7(5), 513–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christoff, K., Cosmelli, D., Legrand, D., & Thompson, E. (2011). Specifying the self for cognitive neuroscience. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(3), 104–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Churchland, S. P., & Sejnowski, J. T. (1992). The computational brain. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cole, J. (2004). Still lives: Narratives of spinal cord injury. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cooley, C. H. (1922). The social self: The meaning of “I.” In Human nature and the social order (Rev. ed., pp. 168–210). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  14. Cooley, C. H. (2009). Human nature and the social order with an Introduction by Philip Rieff & Foreword by George Herbert Mead. Piscataway: Transaction Publishers. (Original work published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902)Google Scholar
  15. Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2010). Essential social psychology (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Dennett, C. D. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  17. Frank, A. W. (1997). The wounded storyteller: Body, illness, and ethics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Frank, R. (2010). Developmental somatic psychotherapy definitions. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from
  19. Freud, S. (1961). Ego and the Id. In J. Strachey (Ed.), Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1923)Google Scholar
  20. Fuchs, T. (2012). Phenomenology and Psychopathology. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from
  21. Gallagher, S. (2000). Philosophical conceptions of the self: Implications for cognitive science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4(1), 14–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gallese, V., & Sinigaglia, C. (2011). How the body in action shapes the self. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18(7–8), 117–143.Google Scholar
  23. Garrett, B. (1998). Personal identity and self-consciousness. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hafta Magazine Web site. (2007, July 10). Being Nikita. Retrieved October 12, 2012, from
  25. Hardcastle, V. (2008). Constructing the self. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  26. Honess, T., & Yardley, K. (Eds.). (1987). Self and identity: Perspectives across the lifespan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hull, J. M. (1990). Touching the rock, an experience of blindness. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  28. James, J. G. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (Originally Published).Google Scholar
  29. James, W. (1983). Principles of psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1890)Google Scholar
  30. James, W. (2001). Psychology: The briefer course. Toronto: General Publishing Company. (Original work published by Henry Holt & Company in 1890)Google Scholar
  31. Kashima, Y., Foddy, M., & Platow, M. (2002). Self and identity: Personal, social and symbolic. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  32. Kircher, T., & David, A. (2003). The self in neuroscience and psychiatry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Laing, R. D. (1965). The divided self. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  34. Leary, M. R. (2004). Editorial: What is the self? A plea for clarity. Self and Identity, 3(1), 1–3. Retrieved May 26, 2011, from
  35. Lichtenberg, J. D. (1975). The development of the sense of self. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 23, 459–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martin, J., Sugarman, J. H., & Hickinbottom, S. (2010). Persons: Understanding psychological selfhood and agency. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mauss, M. (1985). A category of the human mind: The notion of person; The notion of self. In M. Carrithers, S. Collins, & S. Luke (Eds.), The category of the person: Anthropology, philosophy, history (pp. 1–26). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Max Planck Research Group “Body and Self”. (2012). The human body: Investigating its role in action, cognition and creating the sense of self. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from
  39. Meacham, W. (2010). The phenomenology of the self. Retrieved May 26, 2011 from,
  40. Mead, G. H. (1934). The ‘I’ and the ‘Me’. In C. W. Morris (Ed.), Mind, self and society from the standpoint of view of a social behaviorist (pp. 173–178). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  41. Mead, G. H. (1968). The genesis of the self. In C. Gordon & K. J. Gergen (Eds.), The self in social interaction: Classic and contemporary approaches (pp. 51–59). New York: Wiley. (Original work published 1925)Google Scholar
  42. Meijsing, M., & Cole, J. (2000). Self-consciousness and the body. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(6), 34–52.Google Scholar
  43. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). Phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  44. Metzinger, T. (2003). Being no one: The self-model theory of subjectivity. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Neisser, U. (1988). Five kinds of self-knowledge. Philosophical Psychology, 1(1), 35–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Neisser, U. (Ed.). (1993). The perceived self: Ecological and interpersonal sources of self-knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Paranjape, A. C. (2000). Self and identity in Indian psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  48. Preston, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2005). Ideal agency: The perception of self as an origin of action. In A. Tesser, J. V. Wood, & D. A. Stapel (Eds.), On building, regulation and defending the self. New York: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  49. Scheper-Hughes, N., & Lock, M. M. (1987). The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in medical anthropology. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 1(1), 6–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schmuckler, M. A. (1995). Self knowledge of body position: Integration of perceptual and action system information. In P. Rochat (Ed.), The self in infancy: Theory and research. New York: Elsevier Science B.V – Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  51. Seigel, J. (2005). The idea of the self: Thought and experience in Western Europe since the seventeenth century. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Supa, M., Cotzin, M., & Dallenbach, K. M. (1944). “Facial vision”: The perception of obstacles by the blind. The American Journal of Psychology, 57(2), 133–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wegner, M. D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  54. Welsh, T. (2007). Primal experience in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and psychology. Radical Psychology, 6(1).
  55. Zahavi, D. (2005). Subjectivity and selfhood: Investigating the first-person perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HumanitiesNational Institute of Advanced StudiesBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.School of HumanitiesNational Institute of Advanced StudiesBangaloreIndia

Personalised recommendations