Reaching Into the Universe

Identity & the jaw bone

Jaw BoneToday I experienced one of the ways in which the jaw bone, or mandible, is connected to identity. As I walked in the neighborhood, I watched the feelings around a small experience that conflicted with my identity land in my jaw.

As Hugh Milne writes in The Heart of Listening, the mandible "is the bone most associated with the individual's sense of who he is. Since the head itself is the very totem of selfhood, all cranial bones are associated with identity, but the mandible personifies it."

How much jaw tension, teeth grinding, TMJ, and headache is about affronts to our identity, dissonances between sense of self and the world around us, or bound up in the oppression felt by many minority groups?

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