COMPANION

Science and medicine

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder syndrome in which sustained or repetitive muscle contractions result in twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal fixed postures.[1] Writings ‘Working with a Dystonia sufferer’ by Doris Prügel-Bennett reports on working with Val Cross, a Dystonia sufferer, who then also provides her own experiences of how the Technique helps her.[2] ‘Dystonia: What it is like, what it is, and how to help people suffering from it’ by Alexandra Mazek, Christina Steineder; both authors suffer from dystonia and are teachers...
These articles all deal with the relevance of Alfred A. Tomatis’ work to the Alexander Technique. Tomatis (1920–2001) claimed that vocal problems were really hearing problems, that a number of auditory communication problems begin in pregnancy, that the whole body is involved in the production of speech and language, and that his method (which includes listening to recordings by Mozart and Gregorian Chant) addresses diverse disorders including auditory processing problems, dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, autism, and sensory processing and motor-skill...
F. M. Alexander Alexander makes several references to the use of eyes in his writings and talk, although he did not prescribe any specific activity for the use of the eyes. In his teaching he asked his pupils to keep their eyes open, to see, to look.[1] As did A. R. Alexander.[2] References in Alexander’s writings, talk and teaching include: 1. In Man’s Supreme Inheritance he describes an example of a habit of the use of the eyes which will lead to unnecessary strain for the eyes: For instance, in the subconsciously controlled person the attempt to lengthen the neck...
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have: increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue (extreme tiredness), muscle stiffness.[1] Writings ‘Find physical and emotional support’ by David Orman relates on using the Technique to cope with fibromyalgia as well as a recent stay in hospital.[2] References [1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fibromyalgia/. Retrieved 18 September 2018. [2] ‘Find physical and emotional...
Frank P. Jones measured predominantly changes in posture and movement (mainly sit-to-stand) with or without the application of the Alexander Technique, using multiple image photography with markers on various parts of the subject’s body in the form of small lamps or of reflective tape illuminated by flashes. There were clear differences between ‘habitual’ and ‘guided’, i.e. the subject being guided in the movement by an Alexander teacher. Studies were carried out between 1951 and 1972. Jones included a summary of his research in his Freedom to Change.[1]...
George Ellett Coghill (1872–1941) was a US professor of anatomy and researcher into the development of reflexes of movement in vertebrates. Coghill wrote an appreciation for The Universal Constant in Living, and Alexander and his supporters used Coghill’s discoveries as a scientific support for the Alexander Technique. Life Coghill started his biology studies in 1897, became assistant professor of biology in 1900, and took a Ph.D. in 1902. He then worked at several universities but it was during his teaching at the University of Kansas (1913–25) that he carried out a...
Hypermobility here refers to Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – Hypermobility Type (EDS-HT), also known as Hypermobile EDS (hEDS). Writings ‘Hypermobility syndrome’ by Julie Barber; on the importance of early diagnosis, describing the typical hypermobility symptoms and stating that the Technique can help.[1] ‘A poignant Friday afternoon in Limerick in August’ by Annie Hogan McWilliams is a personal story by a teacher of the Technique with hypermobility syndrome.[2] ‘An investigation into hypermobility’ by Andy...
Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is an inflammatory muscle disease characterised by progressive muscle weakness and wasting, especially affecting the arms and legs. Writings ‘Teaching a student with Inclusion Body Myositis’ by Lauren Hill, Dennis Chada; a teacher and a pupil writes about how the Alexander Technique affects IBM.[1] References [1] ‘Teaching a student with Inclusion Body Myositis’ by Lauren Hill, Dennis Chada in AmSAT Journal Journal no. 5, Spring 2014, pp. 36–37.
Also mental disorder, mental illness, psychiatric disorder. Writings ‘Working with retarded people’ by Yaara and Gal Ben Or; notes from three case histories.[1] See also Psychology, and under individual conditions. References [1] ‘Working with retarded people’ by Yaara and Gal Ben Or in The Congress Papers 1996, Back to Basics edited by Shmuel Nelken (Shmuel Nelken, 1999), pp. 120–24.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.[1] Writings ‘Multiple Sclerosis and the Alexander Technique’ by Jennifer Tweel Kelly is a teacher’s autobiographical case history.[2] References [1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/. Retrieved 16 November 2018. [2] ‘Multiple Sclerosis and the Alexander Technique’ by Jennifer Tweel Kelly in AmSAT Journal no. 7,...
Research ‘Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture Sessions for Persons With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial’ by Hugh MacPherson, et al. The conclusion of a large randomized controlled trial with 517 patients with chronic neck pain is that lessons in the Alexander Technique led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability. Study evaluated clinical effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons or acupuncture versus usual care for persons with chronic, non-specific neck pain and found that both are effective.[1] ‘Preliminary evidence for...
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...
Parkinson’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorder. The benefits of the Alexander Technique for people with Parkinson's disease (PWPD) were first highlighted by Chloe Stallibrass’s research in 1997 (see below for research papers). Several teachers have reported on working with PWPD. In 2016 Monika Gross started The Poise Project, a nonprofit organisation, with an initiative for bringing the Alexander Technique to PWPD. Also in 2016 The Walter Carrington Educational Trust (London) has sponsored the special training, including obtaining practical experience, of...
Also called early reflexes, baby reflexes, retained or unintegrated primitive reflexes. Persistent primitive reflexes (PPR) are reflex actions that are exhibited by normal infants, but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes are suppressed as a child grows, mostly within the first 18 months of birth. These primitive reflexes are also called infantile, infant or newborn reflexes. Examples are rooting reflex, sucking reflex, moro reflex, asymmetrical tonic neck reflex. The theory is that such primitive reflexes may not entirely disappear, and...
F. M. Alexander In UCL Alexander quotes from Anthony Ludovici’s book, The Truth about Childbirth (1937), where Ludovici writes about the importance of Alexander’s technique for pregnancy and childbirth. For example, on the consequences of faulty coordination and wrong use of self: Suppose that, through faulty coordination and wrong use of self – and Alexander leaves us in no doubt about this – we get a general shortening of the trunk so that cavities are distorted, organs dropped, respiratory function hampered, and the abdomen made to bulge and sag. Can a gravid...
Research papers by Rajal Cohen ‘Neck posture is influenced by anticipation of stepping’ by Rajal G. Cohen, et al. Habitual head forward posture was measured in 45 young adults standing quietly and when they anticipated walking to place a tray: also in conditions requiring that they bend low or balance an object on the tray. The neck angle relative to torso increased when participants anticipated movement, particularly for more difficult movements. Inhibitory control was measured using a Go/No-Go task, Stroop task, and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. False alarms on the Go...
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and associative trauma disorders, also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs), are umbrella terms used to refer to several conditions that often are associated with repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained/awkward positions.[1] Books Working Without Pain – Eliminate repetitive strain injuries with Alexander Technique by Sherry Berjeron-Oliver and Bruce Oliver.[2] Articles ‘Information for Alexander teachers with pupils suffering from “diffuse RSI”’...
This entry covers recent research which is predominantly seeking to understand the mechanisms of the Alexander Technique, defining what constitutes good use and misuse. ‘Prolonged weight-shift and altered spinal coordination during sit-to-stand in practitioners of the Alexander Technique’ by T. W. Cacciatore, et al. This study compared coordination of 15 teachers of the Alexander Technique to 14 healthy control subjects during rising from a chair, with the instruction ‘as smoothly as possible, without using momentum’. The movement patterns, the kinematics, were...
This covers research into specific beneficial effects of learning and practising the Technique. The first section contains references to the research papers; the second section contains references to reports of research papers. As not all research papers are published (or can be located) the second section contains references to papers which are not listed in the first section. Section I: Research papers Back pain ‘Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain’ by Paul Little, et al. A...
Rudolf Magnus (1873–1927), German Professor of Pharmacology and researcher on the physiology of posture. Magnus’ experiments, carried out on the guinea-pig, rabbit, cat, dog and monkey, investigated in particular: 1) reflex standing; 2) normal distribution of tone; 3) attitude; and 4) righting function. These studies were carried out on decerebrated animals. His findings were summarized in his book, Körperstellung (1924).[1] It was published in English in 1987.[2] The term ‘central control’ was used in England to refer to Magnus’ discovery of the location...

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