COMPANION

Pain

On general aspects of pain.

F. M. Alexander

F. M. Alexander wrote in several places how behaviour causing pain can be habitual, e.g. in MSI:

To those who have studied this curious phase of mental and physical phenomena, it would almost seem that they derived a form of satisfaction or pleasure from such suffering; otherwise, one would conclude, they would not continue to repeat the acts which, in their experience, have been followed by actual pain and discomfort.[1]

He repeats this view in MSI,[2] [3] [4] and CCC.[5] For example in CCC he writes:

In Man’s Supreme Inheritance we have referred to that degenerate state of the organism when the human creature will desire a form of sensory satisfaction through actual pain. In the case of alcoholic excesses, each occasion of indulgence is followed by suffering, often intense suffering, but even this does not act as a deterrent. We must therefore realize the enormous influence of perverted sensory desire on the human creature, and recognize that satisfactory development in the control of his psycho-physical processes is impossible without that reliable sensory appreciation which goes hand in hand with normal sensory desires.[6]

In UCL he mentions a case history where there is a diminishing of pain:

These changes in relativity were the indirect means of correcting the wrong axis of the head, of modifying the reflex spasm or overaction of the muscle groups, and the comparative fixation of the neck and the accompanying deformity, and last but not least, of diminishing little by little the headache and the pain.[7]

Frank Pierce Jones

Frank Pierce Jones makes a connection between Alexander Technique lessons and a changing experience of pain:

This time, undoubtedly as a consequence of the lesson that morning, I perceived the sensation as a pattern with time–space values and found that I could inhibit the surges of tension that were passing in waves from my neck down my shoulder and arm to my finger. As I sustained the inhibition by keeping the awareness of my head and neck central and my finger peripheral, the sensation changed from ischaemic pain to a glowing warmth as blood began to flow back into my finger. In the morning there was nothing to remind me of the episode except a thin red line across the nail.[8]

Articles

  • ‘Pain and countertransference’ by Geoff Lamb; on countertransference and dealing with pupils in pain.[9]
  • ‘Some thoughts on the psycho-physiology of pain’ by Jane Saunderson; on some psychological aspects of pain and the physiology of pain (especially the gate theory of pain).[10]
  • ‘The teacher’s attitudes to pain’ by Elizabeth Atkinson reports on three group sessions she conducted in a seminar ‘Working with people in pain’.[11]
  • ‘Pain and the mind/body experience’ by Judy Stern argues that the enhanced mind-body connection brought about by the Technique allows for the ability to modulate musculoskeletal pain.[12]
  • ‘Alexander Teachers and pain’ by Peter Ribeaux considers the many aspects of pain, from a prospective pupil to an existing pupil and how to approach a pupil in pain.[13]
  • ‘Adjunct rather than panacea?’ by David Orman argues – based on his experiences as a teacher and suffering from fibromyalgia – that the concept of use does not have as far-reaching implications for why people suffer from chronic pain/illness as F. M. Alexander described.[14]

Books

  • It’s Your Fault by Wendy Coblentz is an autobiography of an eight year search for a cure for severe pain back, going through various medical procedures and alternative health therapies, and ending up with the Alexander Technique.[15]

Working in pain clinics

See Hospitals and health services.

Research

‘Early experiences of a multidisciplinary pain management programme’ by Keren Fisher reports on a pilot project at a rehabilitation department for people who saw themselves as significantly disabled by their pain, but for whom no relevant surgical or medical treatments remained. A group of initially 34 patients participated in a programme which consisted of a mixture of 13 activities and teaching sessions interspersed with times for ‘personal target achievement’. Patients’ mean subjective rating of value for each component (activity or lecture) put the Technique consistently on top, both during the course, at a 3-month follow-up and at a 1-year follow-up.[16]

See also under individual diseases and conditions (e.g. Back problems), Psychology.

References

[1] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 44.
[2] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 44.
[3] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 61.
[4] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 64.
[5] Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. Matthias Alexander, (Mouritz, 2004), p. 191.
[6] Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. Matthias Alexander, (Mouritz, 2004), p. 147.
[7] The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 27.
[8] Freedom to Change [Body Awareness in Action] by Frank Pierce Jones (Mouritz, 1997 [1976]), p. 65.
[9] ‘Pain and countertransference’ by Geoff Lamb in STATNews vol. 4, no. 18 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1997), pp. 12–14.
[10] ‘Some thoughts on the psycho-physiology of pain’ by Jane Saunderson in STATNews vol. 4, no. 18 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1997), pp. 13–14.
[11] ‘The teacher’s attitudes to pain’ by Elizabeth Atkinson in STATNews vol. 4, no. 18 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1997), p. 15.
[12] ‘Pain and the mind/body experience’ by Judy Stern in The Congress Papers 1996, Back to Basics edited by Shmuel Nelken (Shmuel Nelken, 1999), pp. 75–84.
[13] ‘Alexander Teachers and pain’ by Peter Ribeaux in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 312–18.
[14] ‘Adjunct rather than panacea?’ by David Orman in STATNews vol. 10, no. 1 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2019), pp. 13–14.
[15] It’s Your Fault – My Journey Through Back Pain, a Teenager and Self-Discovery by Wendy Coblentz (Mill City Press, 2013).
[16] ‘Early experiences of a multidisciplinary pain management programme’ by Keren Fisher in Holistic Medicine vol. 3, no. 1 (Wiley Medical, January/March 1988), pp. 47–56.