Have you ever wondered how you know what is going on inside of your body? What about the fact that not everyone is able to notice what is going on inside their body?
Introducing the 8th sense; Interoception. It helps you understand what’s going on internally by noticing and processing information that comes from the receptors inside your organs, including our skin, the biggest organ of the body. The information is sent to the brain from inside the body and helps us know when we are hungry, full, thirsty, have an itch, our bladder is full or when our heart rate is up. It also helps us identify the internal effects of emotions such as butterflies in the tummy, and it is the system that motivates us to actively correct whatever imbalance may be occurring within our bodies. Interoception is involved in many of the body systems and therefore has an overall effect on function, self-regulation and self-control.
Low interoceptive awareness causes a number of challenges. Imagine trying to be toilet trained if you don’t know your bladder is full, how difficult would it be to answer the question ‘Do you need to go to the toilet?’ if you actually don’t register the sense of a full bladder. Imagine trying to control your emotions and feelings like you’ve been told to do if you are not alerted or tuned in to your internal body changes that tell you your emotions are rising, like getting hotter as you get more frustrated. It’s clear that this can create a lot of frustration, confusion, poor self-esteem and can affect communication, social skills and self-care skills. It is because without good interoceptive awareness, there is a missing link; the ability to notice and process information from inside the body that tells a person what their internal state is. So in a nutshell; understanding what the body is trying to communicate.
Some signs of difficulty with interoception or low interoceptive awareness include: