COMPANION

Science and medicine

‘Science inspired’ writings are those which set out to understand the practice and/or the teaching of the Alexander Technique, or aspects of these, with reference to scientific knowledge or theories. Excluded here is anatomy and physiology related to postural and movement mechanisms – See Use of anatomy and physiology. Neuroscience ‘How does Alexander teaching work? - Intention, empathy and the mirror neurons’ by Grant Dillon is attempting to explain how inhibition and direction is communicated to the pupil with reference to some physiology of neurons.[1...
The literature on possible physiological and other mechanisms involved in the workings of the Alexander Technique over the years. Andrew Murdoch ‘The function of the sub-occipital muscles’ by Dr. A. Murdoch argues that influence of the head determines every attitude of the body, especially on the influence of the sub-occipital muscles on head balance. It quotes from Modern Problems in Neurology (1928) by Dr B. Kinnear Wilson which states that ‘with each displacement of the head a given attitude of the whole body is determined, and it follows that for each voluntary...
Sex
F. M. Alexander Sir George Trevelyan’s diary entry of Wednesday 27 January 1937 records Alexander talking about sex: Many of the failures in marriage, F. M. contends, are due to the failure on the part of the man to inhibit and hold back. In response to his excitement he stiffens, therefore often enough preventing the connection and response from a sensitive woman, and, again, he often finishes far too soon for her satisfaction because there is no adequate control. CCC [constructive conscious control] and the ability not to tense himself should in no way modify his strength of...
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation. Writings ‘Hazards and hope’ by Wendy C. Morris reports on how the Technique helped – and didn’t help – in recovering from childhood sexual abuse.[1] ‘We are sexless, not!’ by Nicola Hanefeld; on the subject of sex being consciously or unconsciously part of lessons, and of her own experience of being abused by a stranger as a 15 year old.[2] ‘Surviving’ by Sue Isaac; on the difficulties of being touched during lessons and training as a teacher, and concluding that the Technique has...
The startle pattern, also known as startle reaction or startle response, is a sudden and brief  and largely unconscious reaction to being startled, such as a loud noise. The startle pattern has its origin in the startle reflex which is a brain stem reaction. It exists in humans, all apes and monkeys, and many other animals.[1] Because of its existence in insects, worms, fishes and other like animals it has also been called the ‘escape response’ where it has been associated with avoiding predators or threatening objects.[2] It is assumed to involve avoidance or evasion, but...
F. M. Alexander In CCC F. M. Alexander relates the story of an author who suffered a breakdown: A pupil of mine, an author, had been in a serious state of health for some time, and had at last reached the point where he was unable to carry on his literary work. After finishing his latest book he passed through a crisis which was described as a ‘breakdown,’ with the result that even a few hours of work caused him great fatigue and brought on a state of painful depression. From the outset of his lessons, therefore, I expressly stipulated that he should stop and make a break...
Writings ‘Preparing for and recovering from surgery using the Alexander Technique’ by Debbie Rittner; a pupil of the Technique relates her experiences of using the Technique before and after undergoing a hysteroscopy operation.[1] Research ‘The impact of the alexander technique in improving posture and surgical ergonomics during minimally invasive surgery: Pilot study’ by P. Reddy, et al. is a pilot study which found that surgeons who underwent instruction in the Alexander Technique experienced a significant improvement in posture and surgical ergonomics as...
The science of the Alexander Technique is divided into the following entries Scientific explanations of the Alexander Technique Research into the benefits of the Alexander Technique Research into mechanisms of the Alexander Technique Alexander’s scientific method Science inspired – articles inspired by science and research R. Magnus’s research – regarding a ‘central control’, righting reflexes and postural reflexes. G. Coghill’s research – regarding the concept of a total pattern organising the organism-as-a-whole before any...
Research papers by Tim Cacciatore ‘Improvement in automatic postural coordination following Alexander Technique lessons in a person with low back pain’ by T. W. Cacciatore, et al. This case report describes the use of the Alexander Technique with a client with a 25-year history of low back pain. After lessons, her postural responses and balance improved and her pain decreased. The introduction includes a thorough explanation of the Alexander Technique from a scientific perspective.[1] ‘Prolonged weight-shift and altered spinal coordination during sit-to-stand in...
This entry covers trauma, traumatic injury, and grief. Articles ‘Grief’ by Vivien Schapera; on bereavement, grief resulting from a death, and how it affected her use.[1] ‘Effects of childhood trauma’ by Rachel Mausner with Jano Cohen argues that Alexander lessons may awaken suppressed trauma memories, because it releases tension; it explains the different levels of reactions to trauma: dissociation, psychogenic amnesia, post-traumatic stress disorder.[2] ‘From the known to the unknown – Using the Technique at ground zero’ by Kim Jessor;...
Wilfred Barlow wrote a number of papers, starting in 1946 with a study which showed that people, when sitting down, pulled their heads back and down relative to the spine. He went to do a number of ‘before’ and ‘after’ Alexander Technique lessons studies until 1959. An investigation into kinaesthesia ‘An investigation into kinaesthesia’ by Wilfred Barlow reports on a study which was carried out on two groups of Army cadets, between the ages of 17 and 22. By marking the occipital protuberance and the 7th cervical spinous process any ‘O–C...

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