How is our bodily self-consciousness acquired, and how does it affect cognition? To investigate this, we conducted an experiment using the squeeze machine, a device that provides pressure along the length of the user’s whole body. The squeeze machine is used to help autistic people relax. The inventor of the machine, Dr. Temple Grandin says that the squeeze machine, beyond bringing her relaxation, enables her to feel empathy for others. This claim is of considerable interest and raises the following two points; first, the problem of empathy in autism is an important issue and Squeeze Machine could be effective. Second, it suggests that the physical action of Squeeze Machine could provide an insight of mind-body problem to us. Here, we hypothesize that the squeeze machine focuses conscious to direct the bodily self, transforming bodily self-consciousness itself. Such intentionality could bring empathy to others. In this study, we tested whether bodily self-consciousness would be transformed through the squeeze-machine experience. In the first part of the protocol, we simplified the original design of Grandin’s squeeze machine but ensured that it retained its relaxing effect. In the second part of the protocol, we adopted a preestablished method of peri-personal space (PPS) measurement to estimate changes in extended bodily space. The results showed that the boundaries of PPS that appeared in the control experiment disappeared during the use of the squeeze machine. Indeed, collected subjective reports suggest that bodily self-consciousness continually drifted between the point of action of the external force (squeeze-machine pressure) and of an internal force (balance among body parts that are usually not consciously controlled), leading to the abandonment of the immobilization of individual PPS.
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