001: Psychology Of Physical Sensation: Interview With Christopher Eccleston [Podcast]

In this inaugural podcast episode, I sit down to chat with Christopher Eccleston who is a professor at the University of Bath, UK, and a leading researcher in the area of pain research.

embodied.jpg
Embodied: The Psychology of Physical Sensation, by Christopher Eccleston, Oxford University Press.

We talk about Chris’ most eye-opening discoveries in his area of pain research, why men don’t attend to pain stimuli enough, the 10 neglected senses, the link between breathing and panic, and the similarities between yawning and itching as evolutionary behaviours.

Listen to the podcast

Show highlights

In this episode, Chris and I discuss:

  • The life of a leading researcher in the area of pain research [1:01]
  • Why some admit pain into their conscious awareness while others are better at distracting themselves from experiencing pain [2:34]
  • Why men don’t pay enough attention to pain stimuli [4:19]
  • Some of Christopher’s most eye-opening discoveries in his field [5:07]
  • The neglected senses and why aren’t they widely accepted yet [7:13]
  • What the 10 neglected senses are [9:53]
  • What the neglected sense of breathing can teach us about stress, anxiety, and panic [11:40]
  • Panic being caused by hypoventilation, not hyperventilation [13:35]
  • The neglected sense of itching, why we scratch, and whether itching is a useful sense or one that is harmful [14:51]
  • The problem of itching [17:19]
  • The comparison of itching and yawning as adaptive evolutionary behaviours [18:38]

Quotes

  • “As men, we don’t attend to pain enough. We don’t attend to signals of possible danger or injury.”

On the dominance of vision in our culture: “Vision is most dominant of all. If you look narratively in our culture, at many of our metaphors, much of our language is very visually orientated. We say ‘see you later’, we say ‘it is interesting how you look at that’…language in our lives is very visually dominated.”

  • “We can understand that children can only understand certain things so let’s start with the Big Five (vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch). But I think psychology has no excuse.”

On why there are neglected senses: “If I’m really going to be contentious, I think it comes from the lack of understanding of the history of psychology.”

  • “Because you’re breathing all the time, very quickly you are seconds away from the terror of being suffocated, at any point, at anytime as you move around your life.”

On the link between breathing and panic: “It could be exactly the opposite. That you are hyperventilating and have been for some time. It might be triggering a suffocation response, an appropriate suffocation response which leads you to panic, which makes you want to breathe more.”

Resources

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Special thanks to Christopher Eccleston and a big thank you to Jeff Goins for being an inspiration.