Conception, conceive, preconception, misconception

As a matter of fact, if one wishes to correct a pupil’s errors in breathing, the first thing to do is to tell him not to breathe, simply because his mental conception of breathing is sucking in air—it is his habit of life!

“Why ‘Deep Breathing’ and Physical Culture Exercises do more Harm than Good” (1908) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 75.

2.         Erroneous Preconceived Ideas. It is impossible for me to set down the myriad dangers with which he is beset in consequence of erroneous preconceptions during his daily practice on “physical-culture” lines. The pages of a fairly large book will be necessary to do even meagre justice to this subject. . . .
3.         Defective Sense-Registration and Delusions. This serious defect is in practice linked up with erroneous preconceptions resulting in mental and physical delusions which are far-reaching and dangerous.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), pages 14-15.

In the first place, great prominence has been given to the conception of the subconscious self as an entity within an entity, by the claim made for it that it has absolute control of the bodily functions.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 24.

My own conception is rather of the unity than the diversity of life. And since any attempt to define the term Life would be presumptuous, the definition being beyond the scope of man’s present ability, I will merely say that life in this connection must be read in the widest application conceivable. . . . This conception does not necessarily imply any distinction between the thing controlled and the control itself.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 25.

In the first place, it is perhaps hardly necessary for me to point out that faith in this connection need not be allied with any conception of creed or religion. It is true that this is the form in which we are most familiar with it in mental healing, and the associations which are grouped round the word itself very commonly induce us to connect it with the conceptions that have had such a wide and general influence on the thoughts of mankind in all stages of civilization.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 29.

In this case my first endeavour must be directed to keeping in abeyance, by the power of inhibition, all the mental associations connected with the ideas of speaking, and to eradicating all erroneous, preconceived ideas concerning the things X imagines he can or cannot do, or what is or is not possible.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 34.

In this case my first endeavour must be directed to keeping in abeyance, by the power of inhibition, all the mental associations connected with the ideas of speaking, and to eradicating all erroneous, preconceived ideas concerning the things X imagines he can or cannot do, or what is or is not possible.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 34.

And this apprehension must precede and be preparatory to any conception of “speaking,” during the application of all the guiding orders involved.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 34.

A Conception of the Principles Involved [Subtitle]

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 36.

The term “conscious control” is one which is employed by different people to convey different conceptions. The usual conception is one which indicates specific control, such as the moving of a muscle consciously, and is practised by athletes who give performances of physical feats in public.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 36.

The disputants have so influenced their own minds that they are incapable of receiving certain impressions; a part of their intelligence normally susceptible of receiving new ideas, even if such ideas are opposed to earlier conceptions, is in a state of anæsthesia: it is shut off, put out of action. The habit of mind which has been formed mechanically translates all the arguments of an opponent into misconceptions or fallacies.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 47.

Ask a friend to lift a chair or any other object of such weight that, while it may be lifted without great difficulty, will in the process make an undoubted call on the muscular energies. You will see at once that your friend will approach the task with a definite preconception as to the amount of physical tension necessary.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 60.

These characteristics that I have instanced are by-products of the artistic genius. They are developed through erroneous conceptions and over-concentration on a particular creative activity, and time and again in the history of the world these by-products have ruined, incapacitated and disgraced men of real genius.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 79.

Why should not the child’s powers of intelligence be trained? Why should they be stunted by our forcing him to accept the preconceived ideas and traditions which have been handed down from generation to generation, without examination, without reason, without inquiry as to their truth or origin?

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 88.

The only experience which the average man or woman has in the use of the different parts of the human organism is through his or her subconsciousness. The result is a subconscious direction which in the imperfectly co-ordinated person is based on bad experiences and on the erroneous preconceived ideas before mentioned.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 112.

It is obvious, however, that what is needed in such a case is the eradication of the erroneous preconceived idea and harmful habits, thereby removing gradually the undue and unnecessary strain upon the organs of sight.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 113.

In the performance of any muscular action by conscious guidance and control there are four essential stages:
1.         the conception of the movement required;
2.         the inhibition of erroneous preconceived ideas which subconsciously suggest the manner in which the movement or series of movements should be performed; . . .

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 123.

It is essential in this place to point out that no system of physical exercises will alter the present condition of the subject in respect of these faults, since all exercises will be conducted under a primary misconception with regard to the use of the muscles involved in the readjustment and co-ordination of the organism. . . .
In the second place he must be taught to realize his erroneous conceptions which result in erroneous movements, and this, whether the conceptions be conscious or subconscious. He must also be taught to inhibit, and, finally, to eradicate these preconceived ideas and the mental order or series of orders which follow from them. Only then can he give the correct guiding orders as next described.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 125.

My own analysis of the matter is that the teaching method is, as a rule, entirely wrong, and wrong because of a fundamental misconception and an entirely inaccurate analysis, resulting in a false premise. The pupil’s defects are dealt with commonly through their effects and not their causes. It is not recognized that every defective action is the result of the erroneous preconception of the doer, whether consciously or subconsciously exercised, and the orders which directly or indirectly follow. Nor is it understood that a pupil under the influence of such erroneous preconceptions can make no real progress till he is made to realize that it is he himself who is actually bringing about the defective action.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), pages 126-27.

He forgets that in “doing something else” the pupil must use the same machinery which, ex hypothesi, is working imperfectly, and that he must be guided in his action by the same erroneous conceptions regarding right and wrong doing.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 127.

My reader must not fail to remember that mental conceptions are the stimuli to the ideo-motor centre which passes on the subconscious or conscious guiding orders to the mechanism. In dealing with human defects or imperfections we must consider the inherited subconscious conceptions associated with the mechanisms involved, and also the conceptions which are to be the forerunners of the ideo-motor guiding orders connected with the new and correct use of the different mechanisms.
In order to establish successfully the latter (correct conception), we must first inhibit the former (incorrect conception), and from the ideo-motor centre project the new and different directing orders which are to influence the complexes involved, gradually eradicating the tendency to employ the incorrect ones, and steadily building up those which are correct and reliable.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), pages 130-31.

The mental habit must be first attacked, and this mental habit usually lies below the level of consciousness; but it may be reached by introspection and analysis, and by the performance of the habitual acts by other than the habitual methods—that is, by physical acts performed consciously as an effect of the conscious conception and the conscious direction of the mind.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 131.

My method is to make an examination and then to apply tests to discover the real cause or causes—namely, the erroneous preconceived ideas—and to find out what minimum of control is left, and therefrom to develop a healthy condition of the whole organism by a simple and practical procedure which step by step effects the desired physical and mental changes.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 132.

I found that his attempts to speak resulted in a hoarse whisper accompanied by spasmodic twitchings of various parts of the body and by facial contortions, all this being brought about by erroneous conceptions, left untouched by the former teacher, as to the amount of effort needed in order to speak.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 133.

He must not attempt to remedy any defect by “doing something” physically in accordance with his sensory appreciation, which is the outcome of his erroneous preconceived ideas and incorrect psycho-physical experience. His reasoning power is dominated by his sense of feeling where his psycho-physical self is concerned, so that he cannot even attempt to carry out any physical act except the one he feels to be right, despite the fact that by his reasoning faculties and practical proof he knows that his sense of feeling is misleading and is the outcome of erroneous preconceived ideas.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 157.

Frequent reference has already been made to individual delusions, errors and misconceptions of a more or less harmful nature associated with our mental and physical efforts in the different rounds of daily life. I wish now to draw special attention to those which may be said to have a more strictly personal bearing than those referred to heretofore, and which have not been fully recognized despite the fact that they are forerunners of unusually harmful and persistent bad habits. The individual misconceptions, errors and delusions to which I refer are indicated in the cases which follow.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 159.

The original conception in this connection is influenced by warped and incorrect subconscious experiences, and consequently a narrow and perverted view is taken of the conditions present.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 160.

Very few people have the right mental conception of the “means whereby” of these acts or of the correct use of the parts which should be employed in their performance, and this despite the fact that we are performing these acts continually, and with such apparent ease from our own point of view.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 173.

Now I will describe the correct method, but it must be borne in mind that it is useless to give what I here call “orders” to the muscular mechanism, until the original habit and the principle of mental conception connected with this action have been eradicated.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 173.

Thirdly, order the neck to relax, and at the same time order the head forward and up. (Note that to “order” the muscles of the neck to relax does not mean “allow the head to fall forward on the chest.” The order suggested is merely a mental preventive to the erroneous preconceived idea.)

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 173.

This treatment begins, in practically all cases, by instructions in the primary factors connected with the eradication of erroneous preconceived ideas connected with bad habits, and the simplest correct mental and physical co-ordination.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 176.

The original cause is some faulty or imperfect co-ordination or conception of function; the inner defect and outer sign-mark are equally a consequence as they are to us an index.

Man's Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1996, London), page 187.

We have now reached the point where we must consider the origin of the conception which led to our giving to this particular manifestation the name of “mind-wandering.”
A person decides to learn something or to learn to do something. The conception involved in this decision immediately starts a series of activities of the psycho-physical mechanisms involved, those concerned with direction and control being of vital importance to a satisfactory result, which, in this instance, is the ability to learn something or to learn to do something.
Where a person succeeds in this connection, he is not likely to become conscious of such a shortcoming as “mind-wandering,” for the success of his attempt means that his conception of the act to be performed involves the employment of satisfactory means whereby he will be able to gain his desired “end.” In such a case, the activities of the psycho-physical mechanisms involved in his attempt will be the result of satisfactory direction and control.
On the other hand, where a person does not succeed in his attempt to learn something or to learn to do something, the failure of his attempt means that there are defects in his conception of the act to be performed, in the sense that this conception does not involve the employment of satisfactory means whereby he will be able to gain his desired “end.”

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 16.

Since, as we have seen, the standard of functioning in the performance of any psycho-physical act depends upon the conception which influences the direction and control of the mechanisms involved, it is most essential to give consideration to this all-important matter of conception, in connection with the understanding of what we wish to learn or learn to do, and also in connection with that psycho-physical activity by means of which we are enabled to arrive at our conceptions concerned with learning and learning to do.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 20.

On the one hand, in what would ordinarily be considered purely physical spheres (the performance of “physical” acts), the standard of functioning depends
(1) upon the degree of correctness of the conception of the act to be performed, and . . . .

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 20.

Now psycho-physical activity is simply the response to some stimulus (or stimuli) received through the channel of the senses, of hearing, for instance, of sight, touch, feeling, etc., and the nature of the resulting conception and of the response, or psycho-physical reaction, will be determined by the standard of psycho-physical functioning present.
It then follows that the process of conception, like all other forms of psycho-physical activity, is a process the course of which is determined by our psycho-physical condition at the time when the particular stimulus (or stimuli) is received. We all know that a man’s conception of his present or future financial or other condition in life is quite different when he is, as we say, in a good and happy “frame of mind,” from what it is when he has a “grouch.” Again, the conception as to the outcome of a disaster or piece of good fortune in life will be quite different in the case of a man in enjoyment of good health from that of a man weakened by bad health.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 22.

Influence of Sensory Appreciation upon Conception in all Psycho-Physical Activity
This dependence of the process of conception upon the general psycho-physical condition is a factor of paramount importance. For if, as we contend, all so-called mental processes are mainly the result of sensory experiences in psycho-physical action and reaction, it will be obvious that in our conception of how to employ the different parts of the mechanism in the acts of everyday life we are influenced chiefly by sensory processes (feeling).

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 22.

Owing to the limited range of the working of his reasoning processes, he must have concluded that his general shortcomings were due to specific muscular shortcomings, and this narrow and erroneous conception led directly to the idea of muscle development by means of specific exercises to be performed at specific times for the purpose of developing specific muscles.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 39.

He decided that he had discovered a “physical” defect for which he must find a remedy, and there can be little doubt that as soon as he conceived the “remedy” idea, any other possible consideration was shut off, whether of the cause or causes of the “physical” deterioration, or of the psycho-physical principles involved, or (even if the cause or causes had been discovered) of the means whereby the desired “end” (remedy) could be secured.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 43.

This new fear—actually a fear of himself—gradually developed until its presence was recognized as an urgent problem, and it is in man’s solution of this problem that we are faced with a conception which will be seen to be a most harmful one when considered in relation to his evolutionary progress.
The conception to which I refer is that of the separation of the human organism into the parts which have been named soul, mind, and body. Those who were bent on this separation attempted, in obedience to their own arbitrary and unreasoning conception, to develop each of the three parts named soul, mind, and body, specifically, nay, even to make a class-distinction, as it were, between them, this last procedure being a reversion to a “habit of thought” associated with other spheres.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 49.

Those who have followed our argument to this point will be cognizant of the following facts:
(1) that the rules of moral, social, and other conduct already established at the period designated the Christian Era were the result of human conceptions;
(2) that the human beings responsible for these conceptions were themselves the product of the psycho-physical experiences involved in a subconscious attempt to pass from a very low stage in the evolutionary process, which we call the uncivilized stage, to a much higher stage, which is known to us as the civilized stage;

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 49-50.

As we have seen, unreliability of sensory appreciation has been and still is associated with a general deterioration in the standard of the health of mankind. Consequently, in the matter of making decisions, man’s conceptions and thoughts have been and still are conditioned by this unreliable sensory appreciation, and still lead him, as in the past, to erroneous conclusions and decisions in the settlement of the new problems with which he has been continually confronted.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 53.

On the other hand, a scheme of life in which prevention is the leading principle does not involve working for an immediate “end”; its application, rather, is on a broad, constructive basis, without -limits, humanly speaking, and is the product of a consciously conceived and consciously executed plan—in short, it is the conception of a highly evolved type of human creature.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 55.

This fact is that whenever we wish to convey to anyone a new idea, whether by the written or spoken word, that is to say, to teach him something, the person wishing to make use of it by that psycho-physical activity which we call learning something must first get his or her conception of what is indicated by those written or spoken words, and his practical use of the new idea will be conditioned by this conception.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 69.

It then follows that in the sphere of acquiring knowledge, especially psycho-physical knowledge, this matter of the particular person’s conception of written or spoken words is all-important, for it is the construction which the learner, adult or child, places upon what he hears or reads, which determines the course of his actions or the trend of his opinions. Yet the ordinary teacher acts and the ordinary teaching methods are based on the assumption that the pupil’s conception of a new idea is identical with that of the teacher, the words

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) pages 69-70.

The significance, however, of the fact that a person’s attempt to make practical use of a new idea is conditioned by his conception of the written or spoken word, cannot be fully realized until we connect it with the further fact, that this conception, in its turn, is conditioned by the standard of the psycho-physical functioning of the individual, this standard again being influenced by the standard of sensory appreciation; in other words, that the accuracy or otherwise of the individual conception depends upon the standard of psycho-physical functioning and of sensory appreciation present.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 70.

It is his business to teach the pupil to do something to eradicate his defects, the “doing” in this connection meaning to the pupil simply the performance of a series of physical movements to be carried out in accordance with the pupil’s conception of the teacher’s instructions.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 79.

II. Incorrect Conception
In the matter of conception, the first step is to convince the pupil that his present misdirected activities are the result of incorrect conception and of imperfect sensory appreciation (feeling).

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 83.

For, in every case, the pupil’s conception of what his teacher is trying to convey to him by words will be in accordance with his (the pupil’s) psycho-physical make-up.*
If, for instance, the pupil has fixed ideas in some particular direction, these fixed ideas must inevitably limit his capacity for “listening carefully” (a capacity which we are apt to take so much for granted)—that is, for receiving the new ideas as the teacher is trying to convey them to him. In this connection, therefore, a teacher in dealing with the shortcomings of a particular case, must give due consideration to the pupil’s fixed conceptions, otherwise these will greatly complicate the problem for both teacher and pupil.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 83.

The list of fixed conceptions given above might be increased a hundredfold. The peculiarities of fixed conceptions, like peculiarities of handwriting, differ greatly in different people, and the form they take depends, as in the case of handwriting again, upon the individual psycho-physical make-up.*
A teaching experience of over twenty-five years in a psycho-physical sphere has given me a very real knowledge of the psycho-physical difficulties which stand in the way of many adults who need re-education and co-ordination, and, as the result of this experience, I have no hesitation in stating that the pupil’s fixed ideas and conceptions are the cause of the major part of his difficulties.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 84.

There are many reasons for this, chief among them being, in my opinion, the fact to which I have already drawn the reader’s attention—namely, that in our conception of how to employ the different parts of our mechanisms, we are guided almost entirely by a sense of feeling which is more or less unreliable. We get into the habit of performing a certain act in a certain way, and we experience a certain feeling in connection with it which we recognize as “right.” The act and the particular feeling associated with it become one in our recognition. If anything should cause us to change our conception, however, in regard to the manner of performing the act, and if we adopt a new method in accordance with this changed conception, we shall experience a new feeling in performing the act which we do not recognize as “right.” We then realize that what we have hitherto recognized as “right” is wrong.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) pages 86-87.

I will now take an equally fixed and unreasoning conception which is common to most pupils who need re-education and co-ordination—namely, their fixed ideas as to what they can and cannot do.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 89.

The child’s remark is proof positive that, where her defects were concerned, her ideas and conceptions were dominated by her sensory appreciation, and that this sensory appreciation was not only unreliable, but actually delusive.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 95.

The point that comes out clearly in all these illustrations is that conceptions which are mainly influenced by unreliable sensory appreciation, acting and reacting subconsciously and harmfully on the pro-cesses involved, are incorrect conceptions, and that in these cases unreliable sensory appreciation goes hand in hand with incorrect and deceptive experiences in the psycho-physical functioning.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 95.

Here we have a great delusion. For, as we have shown, our degree of ability to assimilate a new and unfamiliar idea, or to overcome our prejudices in connection with our cherished ideas and beliefs, depends upon our individual conception of such ideas and beliefs, and this conception is conditioned by the standard of individual psycho-physical co-ordination and of reliability of the sensory appreciation.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 97.

Therefore, instead of telling the pupil directly to pause at certain places, the teacher points out to him that he is gasping at the end of his lines or sentences, and that he is sniffing or “sucking in air” through the mouth, and he endeavours to make the pupil realize that these bad habits are the result of his incorrect subconscious conceptions in connection with the act of breathing, and with the incorrect use of the psycho-physical mechanisms upon the correct use of which satisfactory breathing depends. From this it follows that in all vocal use the pupil must have a correct conception as to the nature of the respiratory act, associated with a conscious, reasoned understanding of the principles underlying the correct use of the psycho-mechanics involved in the act of breathing, before he makes any attempt to put these principles into practice.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 106.

The idea concerned is conceived on a specific and curative basis and is generally accepted, particularly in schools where an effort is being made to create conditions of environment and occupation to meet the pupil’s needs.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 122.

For the idea concerned with inhibition in my technique is conceived on a general and preventive basis, and the process of inhibition involved is employed primarily in connection with ideas which are dissociated from any direct attempt to gain an “end,” but associated instead with that indirect procedure inseparable from the practical application of the principles concerned with the means whereby an end may be gained.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) pages 122-23.

In each case the stimulus to these misdirected activities is the pupil’s idea or conception that he must try to do correctly whatever the teacher requests, and, as we have seen, on the subconscious plane the teacher insists upon this.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 135.

It is only by having a clear conception of what is required for the successful performance of a certain stroke or other act, combined with a knowledge of the psycho-physical means whereby those requirements can be met, that there is any reasonable possibility of their attaining sureness and confidence during performance.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 138.

These difficulties are the natural consequences of his endeavours to adapt himself to ever-changing psycho-physical conditions and of his attempts to evolve from the uncivilized to the civilized state in accordance with his early established subconscious conception of educational and general development.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 159.

This conception of concentration is a disastrous and narrowing one, if we may judge by the use of the word as revealed in practice, and by the harmful manifestations which follow the intention of a person to “concentrate”; . . .

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 167.

What will he really be doing? In a specific way, he will be concentrating upon one order and comparatively neglecting the others, whilst, in a general way, he will be overpowering the new set of conscious orders which he is asked to give in connection with the act of sitting in a chair, by a still more powerful set of orders which are in accordance with his conception of the requirements of the act of concentration.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 169.

The projection of continued, conscious orders, on the other hand, calls for a broad, reasoning attitude, so that the subject has not only a clear conception of the orders essential (“means-whereby”) for the correct performance of a particular movement, but he can also project these orders in their right relationship one to another, the co-ordinated series of orders resulting in a co-ordinated use of the organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 171.

To ask such a person to overcome his failure to concentrate by “concentrating” or “by learning to concentrate” in accordance with his conception of these acts, is to cause a harmful and artificial division of personality.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 174.

To return to our illustration. The facts set down serve to show that the pupil, in going to work in the way he did, was following out a preconceived plan in regard to the attempt to memorize instructions. In his conception, the act of memorizing was much more a “physical” than a “mental” act, and if in his case the psycho-physical functioning had been up to that standard which commands a reliable sensory appreciation, the pupil’s plan might have proved successful; and in this connection the most interesting fact in the whole experience remains to be stated. For on the morning following the lesson, when he was asked to repeat the instructions, he said, “I can’t recall them now.” Here, then, was the proof that the pupil’s preconceived plan of memorizing his instructions by trying to feel them had failed, as how could it be otherwise, considering the very imperfect sensory appreciation that he had at his command?

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 180.

One cannot forget either the unfamiliar but satisfactory manifestations of the child when he becomes able to inhibit*—that is, to say “No” to some stimulus to misdirected activity (which in the case of the last illustration would be to say “No” to his subconscious desire to throw back his head and stiffen his neck)—and then, with an expression born of confidence, to give the orders or directions, which are the result of a reasoned conception of his correct “means-whereby,” the whole process tending to prevent the over-excitement of the fear reflexes.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 190.

This means that he has performed the act of “sitting down” in accordance with his subconscious conception of it.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 197.

For in the last analysis, it is the creature’s individual reaction to the stimuli resulting from the individual conception of that scheme of reform that matters, even if the scheme, taken by itself, might be considered a satisfactory one.
This leads us back to the theme of conception which has been outlined, and in connection with which we have endeavoured to show that only in a state of co-ordinated activity, in which the organism is functioning near its maximum, can we hope for anything approaching a satisfactory conception of new and unfamiliar ideas or experiences.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (STAT Books, 1997, London) page 206.

This change in my conception of the human organism has not come about as the outcome of mere theorizing on my part.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932, London) page 4.

The result of the receipt of a stimulus to lift the arm is, as we all know, a “mental” conception of the act of lifting the arm, this conception being followed by another so-called “mental” process, that of giving or withholding consent to react to the stimulus to lift the arm. If this consent is withheld, the reaction which would result in a lifting of the arm is inhibited, and the arm is not lifted.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932, London) page 43.

It is true that a pupil may start out with an “intellectual” conception of what is required for the “means-whereby” procedure, but in my experience I have found that the moment the idea of performing any act in that procedure comes to him, his habit of “end-gaining” causes him to try to “do” the act in the habitual way that feels right, and this in spite of the fact that I have repeatedly demonstrated to him that the sensory appreciation upon which he is depending to “know” whether his means are right or not is deceiving him, so that what he feels is the right use of himself in gaining his end is in fact wrong.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932, London) page 63.

Mr Alexander: That is a very valuable point. When I ask the pupil to do something, the pupil must get a mental conception of what is wanted. If the pupil goes on then to get a sensory conception of how to do it, it will be wrong.

“Bedford Physical Training College Lecture” (1934) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 179.

They may have an intellectual conception of what they want, and they may write down what they want to bring about, but how are they going to do it? They are not doing the thing that alters the rest.

“Teaching Aphorisms” (1930s) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 194.

They say, “I am going to lengthen,” and then raise their eyes. Of course raising their eyes has nothing more to do with lengthening than their boots, but having done this, from that time onwards, their conception of lengthening will be associated with raising their eyes.

“Teaching Aphorisms” (1930s) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 198.

You wait to feel out whether you are right or not. I am giving you a conception to eradicate that. Directly you don’t care whether you’re right or not the impeding obstacle is gone.

“Teaching Aphorisms” (1930s) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 203.

Sensory apprecition conditions conception—you can’t know a thing by an instrument that is wrong

“Teaching Aphorisms” (1930s) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 206.

End-Gaining and “Means-Whereby”
These terms stand for two different, nay, opposite conceptions and for two different procedures.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 11.

Obviously, in all “doing” there is a conception of what is to be done and how to do it. Whether we react to this conception by giving consent to do the act, or by withholding that consent, the nature of our reaction is determined by our habitual manner of use of ourselves in which we depend upon feeling for guidance.
It is well known that different people will get a different conception from the same word, spoken or written, and from the same gesture, showing that conception is dependent upon the nature of the impressions taken through the sensory mechanisms which control the functioning of the cells (receptors and conductors) of the eyes and ears, etc. The conception likewise of what is happening within ourselves is dependent upon impressions which come to us through the sense of feeling (sensory appreciation) upon which we must rely for guidance in carrying out our daily activities. . . .
Here then we have a vicious circle. Directly we get a conception of doing something, we react according to our habitual misuse of ourselves, the functioning of some one part or other is thereby impaired and, as the organism works as a whole, this means that all parts will be more or less affected.
In working out my own problem I was immediately caught in this vicious circle, for my habitual reaction to any conception of “doing” fitted in with my own peculiarities of misuse and faulty functioning, and with the deceptiveness of sensory appreciation that went with these.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), pages 23-24.

In other words, his “right” is wrong. If then he goes to his teacher convinced that he must try to be right in all that he does, and so attempts to conform to the teacher’s and his own conception of what is right in performing exercises or anything else he may be asked to do, he will continue to do what he feels is right (the known), and so will unknowingly tend to exaggerate the wrongness which is, and has been, the background of his trouble.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 76.

To this end, from the beginning of the first lesson the teacher does his best to reassure the pupil and allay any anxiety on his part as to whether or not he will be able to carry out instructions rightly. He explains to him that he does not want him to try to be “right” in carrying out any instructions, because this would only mean projecting messages which would result in his reacting to the instructions by the habitual use of himself which “feels right,” but that he can prevent this if, on receipt of any stimulus to activity (such, for instance, as a request from his teacher to sit down or to perform some other simple act), he will make the decision to refuse to give consent to carry out the activity by that habitual use of himself which is in accord with his conception of how the act should be performed.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 78.

It is pointed out to him that under the changed conditions the new use of himself may, and probably will, feel wrong to him at first, but that through the experience he will gain in his lessons the new use will in time come to feel right, and he will come to see that the conception which underlies this new way of using himself is not based on any arbitrary theory of what is “right” in the circumstances, but on a practical knowledge of what change in his habitual use and functioning is required if he is to gain new control of his reaction, with all that this connotes in performing the act.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 78.

To act successfully along new lines of thought means (even after the best “means-whereby” have been selected) the carrying out of a decision by an unfamiliar use of the self against the impulse to carry it out by the habitual use that feels right, that is, not only in the face of our mental conception of how that decision should be carried out, but also in the face of real discomfort and “feeling wrong” in carrying it out.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 91.

According to the conception of change most generally held in the past and which still persists today, “creative power,” “willing” and “wishing,” as expressed in the words “I will” or “I will not,” are means whereby change can be brought about, and those who favour methods based on this conception employ them as an aid to their accomplishment in all fields of activity.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 93.

But the stumbling-block in the way of those who wish to help towards such ideals as this are the habits of thought, the preconceived ideas, inherited beliefs and prejudices, which have formed in most people in the process of becoming dominated by orthodox methods of training and education, causing many people whose reactions are reasonable and just in familiar situations to react, when they are faced with the unfamiliar, as if they were suddenly bereft of their ordinary judgement, common sense, self-control, sense of justice, and reasoning.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2000, London), page 156.

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