COMPANION

Concepts

Direction, Inhibition, Consent

‘Operational verification’ is a term in operationalism, a philosophy of science. The principle of operationalism is to accept only such concepts as can be described in terms of the operations necessary to determine or prove them.[1] For example, ‘the length of a table’ may be defined as the number of times a measuring-rod needs to be laid end to end on the table.[2] It was first proposed by the US physicist Percy W. Bridgman (1882–1961) in 1927 when he wrote: ‘In general, we mean by any concept nothing more than a set of operations; the concept is...
The phrase normally used is ‘theory and practice’ but Alexander wants to emphasize, in his technique, that practice precedes theory. It first appears in his Introductory to UCL,[1] and several times in UCL, specifically stating that his theory ‘flowed from’ the practical procedures: My life-work has been one of dealing with practical procedures based on the principle of unity and with the associated theoretical conclusions which flowed from them.[2] However, the preceding of ‘practice’ before ‘theory’ is a late phrasing.[3] ‘...
‘Prevention’ is featured in Alexander’s writings, from 1903 and in all his four books. It is used in different meanings: the act or practice of prevention, often, but not always, synonymous with inhibition; and prevention in contrast to cure. In addition a distinction can be suggested between a primary and a secondary prevention. Primary prevention would be the prevention of the development of a habit, i.e. avoiding developing a bad habit in the first place. Secondary prevention would be the prevention of an established habit with the purpose of eradicating the habit or...
Alexander contends that there is ‘a primary control of the use of the self, which governs the working of all the mechanisms’[1] of the organism, and which, if consciously employed, allows for a control of human reaction, for an improvement in the sensory appreciation of the use of the organism which in turn is associated with an improvement in functioning throughout the organism.[2] This primary control ‘depends upon a certain use of the head and neck in relation to the use of the rest of the body.’[3] The term ‘primary control’ is a shorthand phrase for a...
In the course of Alexander evolving his technical language he used a number of interrelated terms such as ‘primary motive power’, ‘primary movement’ and ‘true primary movement’. This entry is only concerned with ‘primary movement’. The term first appeared in 1903 and last in CCC (1923). ‘Primary’ was applied to several words before it finally prefixed ‘control’ in UoS. In ‘Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education’ (1906) he refers to ‘primary motive power’.[1] In ‘The...
It is generally accepted that the Alexander Technique contains a number of principles; but there is little agreement upon what the principles are, and how many there are. F. M. Alexander on principles F. M. Alexander refers to the principles of his work in all four of his books, but he was never exactly clear as to what they consist of. For example, the word ‘principle’ appears 156 times in CCC, but Alexander does not state what they are; he merely makes references along the lines of the ‘means-whereby principle’, without stating in a single sentence what that...
F. M. Alexander emphasized the unity of the organism, using such terms as ‘the self’, the ‘organism’, the ‘human organism’, or the ‘whole man’, or ‘psycho-physical’ as in ‘psycho-physical activity’, to indicate the impossibility of separating the human organism. The phrase first appears in the 1910 MSI.[1] (See the quote in the entry for Antagonistic action.) He repeatedly emphasized psycho-physical unity in his writings, for example: . . .  in my opinion the two [the mental and the physical] must be considered...
‘Re-education’ consists of restoring the organism to its natural function (eradication of faulty habits), whereas ‘education’ consists of learning how to prevent misuse. Alexander believed that a child at birth possessed the potential for healthy development (note that he did not believe that we are necessarily born ‘perfect’). In fact, when I introduced my method to leading London medical men they quickly admitted the value of this important factor, and expressed their surprise that it had not been previously advocated as such, seeing that from a...
‘Sensory appreciation’ is a fundamental concept in the Alexander Technique. Like other concepts it has its own special meaning; it is not exactly synonymous with kinaesthesia, perception or feeling. F. M. Alexander’s definition Sensory appreciation is ‘the associated activity, in action and reaction, of the processes concerned with conception and with the sensory and other mechanisms responsible for the ‘feeling’ which we experience.’[1] Origin and Development ‘Sensory appreciation’ appears to be Alexander’s own neologism...
F. M. Alexander regards the organism as receiving stimuli to which it is capable of responding. Generally, a stimulus is a object or an event which has the potential to evoke a response from an organism. A stimulus may be from within the organism (a feeling, a thought) or from without (touch, sound, etc.) There are subtle differences in definitions between different branches of psychology, but Alexander was only interested in the general idea for practical purposes. F. M. Alexander Alexander uses the ‘stimulus-response’ model to illustrate the psychophysical unity of...
The ‘self’ is the whole psycho-physical organism. In UCL Alexander writes: . . . I prefer to call the psycho-physical organism simply ‘the self,’ and to write of it as something ‘in use,’ which ‘functions’ and which ‘reacts.’ My conception of the human organism or of the self is thus very simple, but can be made difficult by needless complication resulting from the preconceived ideas which readers bring to it.[1] And in his 1925 lecture: You will have gathered from what I have said that I can’t conceive of the...
For Alexander the ‘unknown’ represents the new, the unexpected and the unfamiliar, which if subconsciously guided (ruled by habit) will stimulate a reaction of fear and general lack of control. Contrasted with this the ‘known’ constitutes what is familiar and habitual (the ‘old’), what is preferred unconsciously. As the Technique involves new and unknown experiences, it is essential to the learning process to be able to accept the unknown. For Alexander, however, the experience and acceptance of the unknown is necessary in all learning, and learning is...
Use
‘Use’ is one of the most fundamental concepts in the Alexander Technique, and one of the most occurring concepts in Alexander’s writings. Use refers to that use of ourselves over which we have some degree of  control in terms of the choices we make: how we breathe, move, think. This is distinct from functioning (which refer to those processes of the body over which we have no direct control, e.g. digestion), and from structure (e.g. the structure of a skeleton over which we have no direct control). Alexander refers in his writings to: faulty use, habitual use,...

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