According to the thesis, the mediating mechanism through which changes in body (structure) are expressed in personality (behavior) is the body image, defined as the inner experience of self-configuration.
A discussion of the physiological basis of body image leads to a motor theory of consciousness, and the proposition that conscious imagery is the result of the inhibition of motor responses latent in prefigured neuromuscular patterns, i.e. the movement systems of posture and gesture.
Some major questions are raised by the study: Can bodies be materially changed? How? What happens to body image when bodies are changed? What changes in personality and behavior relate to bodily changes?
Proponents of the system of Structural Integration, devised and practiced by Ida P. Rolf, maintain that changes in bodily structure can be effected in a relatively short space of time by the deep manipulation of the neuromusculoskeletal system, The process aims to rebalance antagonistic muscle groups, and to create a more efficient spatial arrangement of the body vis-a-vis gravity.
Nine subjects were assessed before and after 10 hours (5-6 weeks) of processing in Structural Integration in order to determine the nature and extent of changes they experienced. The assessment program consisted of 9 separate measures of body image employing a range of objective and subjective measurement devices.
The results positively indicate consistent changes in body conformation, spatial orientation, perception of form, expression of body-related affect, and evaluation of body-related content (body cathexis). All subjects experienced increased body awareness.