‘Giving consent’ is used to indicate a conscious decision to respond, e.g. to a stimulus, to carrying out an activity. Similarly, not giving consent is used to indicate a decision not to do something, e.g. to withhold consent to a request or a wish.
Consent is therefore synonymous or closely allied to the concept of volition, of deciding to respond or not respond; not responding is the same as inhibition. Alexander is clear in his writings that since not giving consent is a conscious decision (like inhibition), it is not, and cannot be, suppression.
It is part of Alexander’s view that a conception to act or not to act arises from a stimulus (from within or without), and that the self then decides to give or withhold consent to this conception. And that the Technique makes the act of giving or withholding consent conscious.
The importance of consent for Alexander is concisely emphasized in the 1934 Bedford lecture:
But what is giving or withholding consent? Who knows what it is? We pass it by as if it does not matter. It matters a great deal. What is a decision to do something? Or not to do it? That is where the trouble comes in.
And in one of his aphorisms:
You ask me to lift that chair. If I give consent that is all I can do.
Consent only appears once in MSI and not in CCC (in the meaning used in MSI, UoS and UCL). It also appears in some of Alexander’s lectures and in his aphorisms.
In Alexander’s teaching
‘Consent’ was often used by Alexander when teaching; see for example Goddard Binkley’s diaries of his lessons with Alexander.
‘Style in walking and running – A re-education problem’ by Paul Collins; on the importance of ‘giving consent’, that giving consent should follow inhibition.
For a selection of F. M. Alexander quotations on consent, see the Mouritz Key Concepts Library.