Use, using, uses

This neglect is due in a great measure to the fact that an erroneous idea prevails that good delivery and the proper use of the speaking voice is the common gift of Nature, and not the product of art.

“Speech Culture and Natural Elocution” (1895) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 7.

It is by uniting these two great forces that all voice-users  (speakers or singers) should win their triumphs; but in these colonies the modus operandi with teachers of elocution and vocal-use is stilted and artificial.

“The Human Voice Cultivated and Developed for Speaking and Singing by the New Methods” (1900) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 15.

Few students of respiration have had the advantage of studying the breathing habits of men, women and children, who live in a state of Nature, and those who have employed the ordinary methods to eradicate their defects, have found them very imperfect, when they have endeavoured to make practical use of them.

“A Respiratory Method” (1905) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 29.

It is in no spirit of contradiction that I venture to point out that Dr MacNaughton probably refers to brainless disciplined teaching, as voice production from the earliest age with proper control of the respiratory mechanism is one of the best possible things, and any one trained to use correctly the true motive power in voice production, could not injure the heart and would be in the same position as children reared in the colonies, where, from early age, they live mostly in the open air and shout and sing from morn till night.

“Disciplinary Singing And Heart Disease” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 31.

The heart could hardly be affected if proper use had been made of the respiratory process, as has been proved practically by the result of my treatment in children, not only patients sent by medical men, but the sons and daughters of these latter.

“Disciplinary Singing And Heart Disease” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 31.

For years a struggle with the impossible is carried on, and many enter on an artistic career only to retire beaten by those whose respiratory conditions conduce to proper use and development of the voice.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 40.

Such unnatural conditions, fostered in ignorance, cause corresponding defects in the use of the vocal apparatus, and the three factors in vocalization, to which I make immediate definite reference, will be more or less not co-ordinated in the use of the voice, with disastrous results, for Nature does not work in parts; she treats every-thing as a whole.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 41.

They are studying a system of proved value perhaps, to one who has possession of a naturally complete respiratory control unconsciously supplying such motive power, but in those not so endowed the most serious defects are daily cultivated by improper and inadequate use of the respiratory mechanism.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 42.

The attention of teachers and others interested in the making of breathing systems for vocal use seems to have been wholly absorbed in devising movements for increasing and developing the inspiratory act, whereas the perfect control of the expiratory is all-important to the vocalist.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 42.

It is a well-known fact that the majority of those who have studied ordinary breathing systems have given them up in disgust, because the first natural principles were ignored or neglected, the breath being taken in such a manner that, instead of control being developed, the reverse occurred, and the chest poise at the end of each vocal phrase tended to prevent the proper use of the mechanism in the respiratory act following.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 43.

At present I simply state the great principle to be antagonistic action, perfect employment of which is the forerunner of that control which ensures the correct use of the muscular system of the thorax in its fullest sense as the primary motive power in the respiratory act, also adequate muscular development, non-interference with the larynx and nasal dilatation.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 43.

3. There is absolute lack of antagonistic action in the use of the respiratory mechanism.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 43.

Inability in this connection is simply due to lack of control over, and improper use of, the mechanism governing the correct contraction and expansion of the thorax and the dilatation of the alæ nasi.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 45.

The breath control necessary in the whisper tone is much greater than during the use of the ordinary speaking or singing one; consequently the student who is taught from the very beginning of his respiratory re-education to convert the air exhaled into whispered tones (consciously employing the true motive power) and the proper vowel or vowels will have learnt what should always be one of the simplest forms of vocal effort, but is, in effect, one of the most difficult even to many leading actors, singers and speakers, and arises from inadequate respiratory control.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 46-47.

There is a co-ordination of respiratory and vocal powers, unconscious direction having been engendered, or, as we say, use has become second nature.

“Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education” (1906) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 48.

In education:
2.         adequate and correct use of the muscular mechanisms concerned with respiration.
In re-education:
2.         co-ordination in the use of the muscular mechanisms concerned with respiration.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 52.

The artificial conditions of modern civilized life, among which is comparative lack of free exercise in the open air, are conducive to the inadequate use of breathing power.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 52.

1. In prevention: the inculcation of a proper mental attitude towards the act of breathing in children, to be followed by those detailed instructions necessary to the correct practice of such respiratory exercises as will maintain adequate and proper use of the breathing organs.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 55.

As the breathing mechanism is ordinarily unconsciously controlled, it is necessary, in order to regain full efficiency in the use of it, to proceed by way of conscious control until the normal conditions return.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 56.

The guiding principle that should be invariably kept in mind by both teacher and pupil is to secure, with the minimum of effort, perfect use of the component parts of the mechanisms concerned in respiration and vocalization.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 60.

Careful observation will show that those who take breath by the “sniffing” or “gasping” mode of breathing always experience great difficulty with breath-control in speech and song or during the performance of breathing exercises. This applies equally whether the air is expelled through the mouth or nasal passages, and is due to the imperfect use of the thoracic mechanism, and the consequent loss of mechanical advantage already referred to at the end of the inspiration

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 61.

The mental and physical peculiarities or defects of men and women are the result of heredity or acquired habit, and the most casual observer has noticed that certain peculiarities or defects are characteristic of the members of particular families, as, for instance, in connection with the standing and sitting postures, the style of walking, the position of the shoulders and shoulder-blades, the use of the arm, and the use of the vocal organs in speech, etc.

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 62.

The chief peculiarities or defects may be broadly indicated as:
. . .
2.         lack of control over, and improper and inadequate use of, the component parts of the different mechanisms of the body, limbs, and nervous system

“The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Re-Education” (1907) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 62.

Perfect body pose, chest poise, and co-ordinated use of the muscular mechanisms means proper mechanical advantage.

“The Dangers of Deep Breathing” (1908) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 70.

In explanation of the object thus defined and of the mode in which that object is to be attained, the notice of the student is directed to the following postulates:

1.         that when defects in the poise of the body, in the pose of the chest, in the use of the muscular mechanisms, and in the equilibrium are present in the human being the condition thus evidenced is an undue rigidity of parts of the muscular mechanisms associated with undue flaccidity of others.
. . .
2.         that it is essential at the outset of re-education to bring about the relaxation of the unduly rigid parts of the muscular mechanisms in order to secure the correct use of the inadequately employed and wrongly co-ordinated parts.

“Re-Education of the Kinæsthetic Systems” (1908) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 80.

I may cite, as examples of such defects, faulty poise of the body and pose of the chest, unstable equilibrium (inability, for instance, to maintain equilibrium during simple movements), undue strain or incorrect use of isolated parts of the muscular system (such as the constant crowding down of the structures of the throat by strain placed upon the larynx and undue depression of that organ), and the performance of functions by one part more properly discharged by another (as when the arms and neck are stiffened in performing acts which properly call for the perfect co-ordination of the muscular mechanisms of the back.

“Re-Education of the Kinæsthetic Systems” (1908) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 81.

It is, therefore, as necessary to order the inhibition of incorrect and unconsciously performed acts as to give orders which will secure the co-ordinated use of the mechanisms involved.

“Re-Education of the Kinæsthetic Systems” (1908) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 83.

And the process by which this is achieved is simply a re-adjustment of the parts of the body by a new and correct use of the muscular mechanisms through the directive agent of the sphere of consciousness.

“Why We Breathe Incorrectly” (1909) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 92.

Now here we have (a) the directive agent of the sphere of consciousness, and (b) the use of the muscular mechanisms—the combination causing certain expansions and contractions, and the result being what is known as breathing.

“Why We Breathe Incorrectly” (1909) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 93.

In these publications I drew special attention to the harmful conditions which I maintain exist in the bodies of the majority of people today, viz., interference with the normal state of the throat structures (strain and displacement), the neck (tension and throwing too far back), the spine (shortening and hollowing), the back (narrowing instead of widening), the abdominal viscera (displacement and pressure), the thorax (sinking above and below the clavicles, &c.), the arms (their imperfect combined use with the neck when the foregoing conditions of the back are present), and the shoulders (raising and poising either too far back or too far forward).

“Why We Breathe Incorrectly” (1909) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 94.

It will be found that all vocal peculiarities and defects are associated with an imperfect mode of opening the mouth and imperfect use of the tongue and lips.

“Supplement to Re-Education of the Kinæsthetic Systems” (1910) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 105.

As I have said, a man who teaches the proper use of the voice must himself have had professional experience as an elocutionist, actor or singer.

“A Protest against certain Assumptions” (1910) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 116.

For, as I shall show later,* in the case of John Doe and in all parallel cases, the consciousness of the person concerned is not changed in regard to the use of the muscular mechanism.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 3.

For it is clear that John Doe has a wrong mental attitude towards the uses of his muscular mechanism in the acts of everyday life. He has been using muscles to do work for which they were never intended, whilst others, which should have been continuously employed, have remained undeveloped, inert and imperfectly controlled. We may say in truth that he is suffering from mental and physical delusions with regard to the uses of his body. To mention but one of many instances of his lack of recognition of the true uses and functions of his muscular system, we shall notice that whenever he thrusts his head forward or throws it back his shoulders always accompany the movement in either direction, this movement of the shoulders being entirely unconscious and made without any recognition of the fact that they are being moved.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 12.

The mere performance of physical exercises could not give him a new and correct kinæsthetic sense in connection with the use of the mental and physical organism in his acts of everyday life.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 14.

The most common form of this defective control encountered in teaching work is when the teacher wishes to move the head, or hand, or arm, or leg for the pupil, in order to give the new and correct sensation in the proper use of the parts.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 15.

A person comes to me with some crippling defect due to the improper use of some organ or set of muscles. When I have diagnosed the defect and shown the patient how to use the organ or muscles in the proper way, I am always met at once with the reply, “But I can’t.”

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 32.

Suppose a patient comes to me who has acquired incorrect respiratory habits, and suppose he is plastic and ready to assimilate new methods, and that after receiving the new guiding orders from me, he soon learns consciously to make a proper use of the muscular mechanism which governs the movements of the breathing apparatus, a word that fitly describes this particular mechanism of the body.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 56.

If the mental attitude of that individual had been changed, and he had learned to use his muscles consciously; if, instead of automatically performing a set of muscle-tensing exercises, he had devoted himself to apprehending the control and co-ordination of his muscles, he could have carried his knowledge into every act of his life.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 57.

Therefore before he attempts any form of physical development he must discover, or find some one who can discover for him, what his defects are in the uses indicated. When this has been done he must proceed to inhibit the guiding sensations which cause him to use the mechanism imperfectly; he must apprehend the position of mechanical advantage, and then by using the new correct guiding sensations or orders, he will be able to bring about the proper use of his muscular mechanism with perfect ease. If the mechanical principle employed is a correct one, every movement will be made with a minimum of effort, and he will not be conscious of the slightest tension. In time a recognition will follow of the new and correct use of the mechanism, which use will then become provisionally established and employed in the acts of everyday life.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 58.

Therefore it is essential at the outset of re-education to bring about the relaxation of the unduly rigid parts of the muscular mechanisms in order to secure the correct use of the inadequately employed and wrongly co-ordinated parts.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 59.

I trust I may do something to convince thinking men and women that conscious control is essential to man’s satisfactory progress in civilization, and that the properly directed use of such control will enable the individual to stand, sit, walk, breathe, digest, and in fact live with the least possible expenditure of vital energy.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 107.

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.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 112.

The position of mechanical advantage, which may or may not be a normal position, is the position which gives the teacher the opportunity to bring about quickly with his own hands a co-ordinated condition in the subject. Such co-ordination gives to the pupil an experience of the proper use of a part or parts, in the imperfect use of which may be found the primary cause of the defects present. It is by the repetition of such experiences of the proper use of his organism that the pupil is enabled to reproduce the sensation and to employ the same guiding principles in everyday life.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 116.

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, 1995, London), page 127.

The correct point of view is: something is wrong in the use of the psycho-physical mechanism of the person concerned.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 129.

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.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 130.

He was using the muscular mechanisms of the arm and neck in such a way as to place a severe strain on the injured muscle, such a strain, indeed, as would have been harmful to a normal arm, and which caused him intense pain.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 133.

The “cure” was so simple as to appear ludicrous. I had diagnosed that the subconsciously stiffened muscles were the cause of the trouble. My efforts were devoted to obtaining the correct action of the arm with the minimum of tension. This was done by manipulation and by giving him guiding orders which brought about the correct use of the parts concerned

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 133-34.

In order to secure the proper use of the arms and legs, correct mental guidance and control are necessary.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 137.

2.         When he has been made aware of these defects, he can be taught to inhibit the faulty movements, and his teacher can assist him to gain slowly but correctly the necessary experiences in the correct use of those muscular mechanisms which will enable him sooner or later to govern them properly without the aid of the teacher, and to employ them with accuracy and precision in his game of golf and other physical performances.
3.         In the golf act under consideration he must first be given the correct experiences in the use of the muscular mechanisms of the torso and legs with the arms falling naturally at his side.
4.         The correct experiences should then be given with the use of the arms in making the “up stroke.”

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 138.

He would, in short, have been able to make the best instead of the worst use of his powers.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 172.

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, 1995, London), page 173.

The displaced parts of the body must be restored to their proper positions by re-education in a correct and controlled use of the muscular mechanisms.

Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 176.

In the interest of readers who may not be familiar with the thesis of my earlier book, Man’s Supreme Inheritance, I wish to point out that in the arguments therein set forth it was contended that human beings cannot progress satisfactorily in civilization whilst they remain dependent upon subconscious (instinctive) guidance and control; for the reason that in civilization . . . man’s continued dependence upon precisely this subconscious guidance and control has resulted, either directly or indirectly, in the gradual development of imperfections and defects in the use of the human organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 3.

The evolutionary processes associated with these varying experiences, essential to the continued existence and development of the organism, ensured that comparatively desirable combination in human activity, namely, an adequate and correct* use of the psycho-physical organism as a whole, together with an adequate use at the same time of the parts of that organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 6.

For the act of writing demands correct direction and control in the use of the fingers, wrist, and arm, and the standard of success reached in these particulars depends upon the co-ordinated use of the mechanisms in general.*
Co-ordinated use of the organism means that there is satisfactory control of a complex mechanism. In a reasoned plan of life, the human creature would be in the enjoyment of a co-ordinated use of the whole organism and, comparatively speaking, there would not be any impeding factors, such as we have indicated, to be overcome.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 11.

The adequate development of these potentialities connotes a satisfactory standard of the co-ordinated use of the organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 12.

The process of evolution depends upon the continuous repetition of such primary experiences, or group of experiences, this repetition resulting in the establishment of a use (or what is termed habit or instinct) and in the satisfaction of the need or needs.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 14.

Most of us are aware of the marvellous accuracy in the use of the organism manifested by the wild animal or the savage in the various familiar spheres of activity concerned with self-preservation.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 15.

In such a case the activities of the psycho-physical mechanisms involved in his attempts will be the result of unsatisfactory direction and control, resulting in a misdirected use of the psycho-physical mechanisms, . . .

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 16.

On the other hand, in what would ordinarily be considered purely mental spheres, the standard of functioning depends
 (1) upon the degree of reliability of the sensory guidance and direction in the use of the mechanisms involved in conveying the stimuli primarily responsible for the psycho-physical processes concerned with conception, and
(2) upon the standard of co-ordination reached in the use of the whole organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 21.

In the animate machine, or human psycho-physical organism, the controlling mechanism is a wonderful psycho-physical process by means of which an almost unlimited use of the different units which make up the whole may be brought about, so that at one moment a correct use and at another an incorrect use may be commanded.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 24.

The development and use of this reasoning process marked primitive man’s differentiation from the lower animals, but it also marked—and this is even more important from the point of view of man’s evolutionary history—the “beginning of the end” of the dominance of instinct as a controlling factor in human activity, so that from this period onwards man could no longer satisfactorily live and move by subconscious guidance alone.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 30.

As civilization advanced, however, slowly at first but with increasing rapidity as time went on, man must have been placed more and more in new and untried situations which would inevitably demand from him an increasing use of his reasoning processes.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 31.

He would also have realized that many of his instincts were being used less and less in the old way, and consequently were becoming less and less reliable. It would then have been obvious to him that in order to meet satisfactorily the requirements of his new and changing environment, he must employ new guidance and direction, and that, in order to build up this new guidance with the rapidity that his necessities demanded, he must call upon reasoning to supersede instinct (the co-worker of slow development) in the use of his psycho-physical mechanisms.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 33.

The centuries passed, bringing with them an increasing scope for the use of man’s reasoning processes. Unfortunately, he continued to confine this use of his reasoning processes to the consideration of the relation of “cause and effect,” “means and ends” in connection with his activities in the outside world, both social and physical, and failed to apply this reasoning to the consideration of the relation of “cause and effect,” “means and ends” in connection with the use of his psycho-physical organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 33.

[Subtitle] Interference with the Co-ordinated use of the Psycho-Physical Mechanism and an Associated Lowering of the Standard of Sensory Appreciation

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 36.

The very fact that at some period “physical exercises” were considered necessary proves that imperfections must have developed to a very serious extent, and the reason for this, as I again repeat, is that the gradual failure of the sense registers to continue to guide men satisfactorily in the use of themselves in the activities of life had finally brought about an advanced stage of mal-co-ordination in the human psycho-physical organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 40-41.

 

(5) that this was the beginning of a new era in the experience of the creature called man. It was the beginning of an interference with the co-ordinated use and development of the psycho-physical organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 50.

For when a machine, animate or inanimate, has developed mech-anical defects, that machine is not functioning at its maximum, and, with the continued use of the machine, these defects not only become more and more pronounced, but actually increase in number.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 57.

For in all cases of so-called mental and physical shortcomings there are present imperfections and defects in the use of the psycho-physical organism.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 57.

This implies in the case of some pupils a long process, for it means a gradual building-up of new and satisfactory psycho-physical use, and the pupils’ co-operation in this process must be based upon a reasoning, rather than a blind acceptance of the principles involved.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 63.

. . . ; that the teachers concerned do not even know how to prevent the child from acquiring the very worst psycho-physical use of itself whilst standing or sitting at its desk or table, pondering over its lessons, or performing its other duties; . . .

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 72.

In the attempt to improve its handwriting, for instance, new faults will be developed in the general use of the psycho-physical mechanisms, and the established defects will tend to become more pronounced.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 74.

And what is to happen if the educational demands continue to increase, whilst the psycho-physical possibilities of the children continue to decrease, as they surely will, unless the defects which make for badly co-ordinated use of the psycho-physical self are eradicated, and instead there is set in motion a process of genuine development on a plane of conscious control in the use of the organism?

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 76.

Where harmful conditions such as those we have indicated above are present in a child, the teacher, in any attempt to remedy specific defects (such as, for instance, defects in a child’s handwriting) must take into account the standard of the general psycho-physical use of the child, otherwise the attempt will result not only in the development of new faults in this use, but also in a tendency to strengthen any old-established imperfect uses.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 76-77.

There can be little doubt that the knowledge of the satisfactory and adequate use of the organism is of first importance, for it is upon this satisfactory and adequate use that the degree of our success depends in meeting the demands made upon us in educational and all other spheres of activity.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 79.

For immediately the child or adult attempts to perform any psycho-physical act, that use of himself which is the manifestation of his inherited and cultivated instincts (i.e., of his habits) becomes the dominating factor. It then follows that if a pupil is more or less badly co-ordinated, the use of his psycho-physical self will be imperfect and therefore more or less harmful.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 80.

A little girl who had been unable to walk properly for some years was brought to the writer for a diagnosis of the defects in the use of the psycho-physical mechanisms which were responsible for her more or less crippled state.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 94.

For the fact that emerges from all these considerations is that our -approach to life generally, our activities, beliefs, emotions, opinions, judgements in whatever sphere, are conditioned by the preceding conceptions, which are associated with the individual use of the psycho-physical mechanisms and conditioned by the standard of reliability of our individual sensory appreciation.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 96.

The teacher, having made his diagnosis of the cause or causes of the imperfections or defects which the pupil has developed in the incorrect use of himself, uses expert manipulation to give to the pupil the new sensory experiences required for the satisfactory use of the mechanisms concerned, . . .

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 99.

The aim of re-education on a general basis is to bring about at all times and for all purposes, not a series of correct positions or postures, but a co-ordinated use of the mechanisms in general.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 100.

Therefore, as soon as they are asked to give a certain continuous order, they rush impulsively into action according to their habitual subconscious use of the parts concerned.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 102.

His stiffened neck, in fact, is merely a symptom of general mal-co-ordination in the use of the mechanisms, and any direct attempt to relax it means that he is dealing with it as a “cause” and not as a “symptom,” and such an attempt will result in comparative failure unless a satisfactory co-ordinated use of the mechanism in general is restored.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 103.

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 by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 106.

Once, however, he has been taught to act in accordance with the new instructions, his defects will gradually disappear, because he will have learned to prevent the wrong use of the mechanisms responsible for these defects.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 107.

In all these considerations we must bear in mind that, in the sphere of acquiring satisfactory psycho-physical functioning, though speed will follow as the result of the necessary experience in the correct use of the parts concerned, a correct use can hardly follow a speed which has been achieved at the cost of an incorrect use of those parts.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 109.

I would add that the correct performance of this evolution calls for the co-ordinated use of the body, legs, and arms, and of the muscular system in general; it calls, in particular, for their co-ordinated use during the movement of bringing the body forward, and during the act of placing the hands in position on the top rail of the chair, also during the final work to be done with the hands and arms in this position. I want it to be very clearly understood that when I write of the arms, legs, hands, feet, etc., I always imply their co-ordinated use with the body as a co-ordinated support.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 110.

An objector might justly say that this is practically impossible, but we are dealing with the use of the spine, and one of the most common defects amongst human beings today is an undue curving of the spine in the use of the self in the acts of everyday life, and naturally this causes a shortening in stature.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 112.

What is essential here is a co-ordinated use of the arms, and the only way by which he can secure this is, first, by giving the necessary preventive orders, and then by rehearsing the series of new orders given by the teacher, in which the movement of the arms is linked up with the use of the other parts of the body.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 117.

When the human creature’s activities are on a plane of constructive, conscious control, he will have reached a standard of development and use of the processes of inhibition (as outlined in the technique which I advocate) which will enable him to apply in practice to his activities in the outside world the very principles concerned with the processes of inhibition which he has applied to the use of his psycho-physical self, with accruing benefit in both spheres of application.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 124.

But we must not overlook the fact that in any attempt to gain for a pupil the desired control and the increased thoracic capacity, the pupil’s incorrect use of the mechanisms involved is an impeding factor, and so, in attempts to correct such imperfect use, the first consideration must be to prevent the psycho-physical activities which are responsible for this defective use by the development and employment of the pupil’s ability to inhibit.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 131.

This satisfactory general use is essential to satisfactory specific use.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 139.

The organism will then function as near to the maximum as is possible, and the potentialities for improved functioning will continue as the child gradually develops to that standard of conscious guidance and control in psycho-physical use which makes for the conditions essential to the fullest development of latent potentialities.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 142.

In the first place, we should not allow the subject to try to “walk properly” until he had been given, by expert manipulation, correct experiences in the general use of the psycho-physical mechanisms, and had become well acquainted with the correct guiding and controlling orders which would assist in the securing of the means whereby he should use the mechanisms in any attempt to walk properly.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 152.

The recognition of weakness or difficulty would be the signal for an examination of the psycho-physical mechanisms involved in the use of the organism as a whole, which in turn would enable us to note the defects and peculiarities in the use of these mechanisms in the specific act of walking.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 152.

Although a specific improvement may take place in one direction, many more serious defects in the use of his mechanism as a whole will be cultivated in the process.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 161.

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 by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 171.

It certainly is not a very high stage, when we take into consideration the potentialities of the human creature and the fact that in the development of the animal and the savage the two processes concerned with the use of the creature’s self and the use of that self in the activities of life were interdependent.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 173.

Unfortunately, this applies equally to the teacher, and means that, in both cases, their knowledge of the use of the psycho-physical mechanisms which they are about to employ in the lesson is the result of unsatisfactory and even harmful subconscious experiences. It is safe to assume that they have little conscious know-ledge of the use of these mechanisms either in the field of theory or in that of practice, and even that little will be on a specific basis.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 194.

On the other hand, when a person sits down or stands up in accordance with the demands of constructive conscious control, the process involves an adequate and continuous state of increasing awareness in regard to the use of the mechanisms, so that immediately there is a wrong use of these mechanisms, the person concerned becomes aware of it, and at once substitutes a satisfactory for the unsatisfactory use.

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 2004, London), page 198.

In an endeavour to conceal this fact, the arm was held in a special way, with the result that one shoulder was held at least three or four inches higher than the other—that is the way we always put these things—and when I had made my diagnosis in the simple way that I do it, that of taking into consideration the general use of the whole organism, one of the questions that I asked was this:

Lecture: “An Unrecognized Principle” (1925) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 142.

The consequence is that my first attention is given, when the pupil comes into the room, to the different little things he or she happens to be doing, walking and so forth, and then when he comes into my room at first, I ask him to sit down in the chair—and we all do that, it is a matter of etiquette—and when he has sat down in the chair, I have the history of his life’s use of himself. It is all there.

Lecture: “An Unrecognized Principle” (1925) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 145.

We ask this person to sit down and we find in sitting down, [that] the head is pulled back more or less, an indication more or less of interference with the general use of the mechanism.

Lecture: “An Unrecognized Principle” (1925) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 145-46.

You will have gathered from what I have said that I can’t conceive of the use of the self—that is my chief interest in life—I can’t conceive of the use of that self except as psycho-physical unit. I can’t conceive of one part working satisfactorily without the other.

Lecture: “An Unrecognized Principle” (1925) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 146.

And I played Shylock myself. I did this merely to show the theatre people who were interested in me, and interested in what I was doing, that a man does not want this training, twenty-five years’ training, to know how to walk across the stage. These young men and young women were never taught to walk, they were taught how to use themselves, the whole psycho-physical organism, satisfactorily; their sensory consciousness and sensory appreciation of the use of themselves was properly developed, and there was no need for any trouble.

Lecture: “An Unrecognized Principle” (1925) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 153-54.

The “disturbances of the organism,” which Dr Devine states express themselves in “both types of malady,” I have found to be due in every case to wrong use and functioning of the whole organism.
I have evolved a technique, the object of which is to restore to my pupils a right use of their whole organism and not to treat manifestations of disease, in which I am not interested.

“Body and Mind” (1928) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 125.

The results of the series of experiences I have out lined in Chapter I seem to me to imply that in the process of acquiring a conscious direction of the use of the human organism, a hitherto “undiscovered country” is opened up, where the scope for the development of human potentialities is practically unlimited, and anyone who chooses to take the time and trouble to carry out the procedures necessary for acquiring a conscious direction of use can put this to the test.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. ix.

After all, the self is the instrument through which all these workers must express them selves. If, therefore, a knowledge of how to direct consciously the use of the psycho-physical mechanisms of the self were made the common starting-point of their researches, this would surely tend both to unite and amplify the results of their several labours more than anything that has so far been done.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. ix-x.

My two earlier books, Man’s Supreme Inheritance and Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, contain a statement of the technique which I gradually evolved over a period of years in my search for a means whereby faulty conditions of use in the human organism could be improved.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 3.

This difficulty is always coming up in my teaching, but it is possible during a course of lessons to demonstrate to the pupil how the “mental” and “physical” work together in the use of the self1 in all activity.

1.         I wish to make it clear that when I employ the word “use,” it is not in that limited sense of the use of any specific part, as, for instance, when we speak of the use of an arm or the use of a leg but in a much wider and more comprehensive sense applying to the working of the organism in general. For I recognize that the use of any specific part such as the arm or leg involves of necessity bringing into action the different psycho-physical mechanisms of the organism, this concerted activity bringing about the use of the specific part.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 4 and 4 fn.

From this I was led to conjecture that if pulling back my head, depressing my larynx and sucking in breath did indeed bring about a strain on my voice, it must constitute a misuse of the parts concerned. I now believed I had found the root of the trouble, for I argued that if my hoarseness arose from the way I used parts of my organism, I should get no further unless I could prevent or change this misuse.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 10.

            In this way it was borne in upon me that the changes in use that I had been able to bring about by preventing the three harmful tendencies I had detected in myself had produced a marked effect upon the functioning of my vocal and respiratory mechanisms.
This conclusion, I now see, marked the second important stage in my investigations, for my practical experience in this specific instance brought me to realize for the first time the close connexion that exists between use and functioning.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 12.

This new piece of evidence suggested that the functioning of the organs of speech was influenced by my manner of using the whole torso, and that the pulling of the head back and down was not, as I had presumed, merely a misuse of the specific parts concerned, but one that was inseparably bound up with a misuse of other mechanisms which involved the act of shortening the stature. If this were so, it would clearly be useless to expect such improvement as I needed from merely preventing the wrong use of the head and neck.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 13.

This new piece of evidence suggested that the functioning of the organs of speech was influenced by my manner of using the whole torso, and that the pulling of the head back and down was not, as I had presumed, merely a misuse of the specific parts concerned, but one that was inseparably bound up with a misuse of other mechanisms which involved the act of shortening the stature. If this were so, it would clearly be useless to expect such improvement as I needed from merely preventing the wrong use of the head and neck. I realized that I must also prevent those other associated wrong uses which brought about the shortening of the stature.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 13.

As is shown by what follows, this proved to be the primary control of my use in all my activities.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 14.

In time, however, I profited by these experiences, for through them I came to see that any attempt to maintain my lengthening when reciting not only involved on my part the prevention of the wrong use of certain specific parts and the substitution of what I believed to be a better use of these parts, but that this attempt also involved my bringing into play the use of all those parts of the organism required for the activities incident to the act of reciting, such as standing, walking, using the arms or hands for gesture, interpretation, etc. Observation in the mirror shewed me that when I was standing to recite I was using these other parts in certain wrong ways which synchronized with my wrong way of using my head and neck, larynx vocal and breathing organs, and which involved a condition of undue muscle tension throughout my organism.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 17.

On recalling this experience I continued with the aid of mirrors to observe the use of myself more care fully than ever, and came to realize that what I was doing with my legs, feet and toes when standing to recite was exerting a most harmful general influence upon the use of myself throughout my organism. This convinced me that the use of these parts involved an abnormal amount of muscle tension and was indirectly associated with my throat trouble, and I was strengthened in this conviction when I reminded myself that my teacher had found it necessary in the past to try and improve my way of standing in order to get better results in my reciting. It gradually dawned upon me that the wrong way I was using myself when I thought I was “taking hold of the floor with my feet” was the same wrong way I was using myself when in reciting I pulled my head back, depressed my larynx, etc., and that this wrong way of using myself constituted a combined wrong use of the whole of my physical mental mechanisms. I then realized that this was the use which I habitually brought into play for all my activities, that it was what I may call the “habitual use” of myself, and that my desire to recite, like any other stimulus to activity, would inevitably cause this habitual wrong use to come into play and dominate any attempt I might be making to employ a better use of myself in reciting. The influence of this wrong use was bound to be strong because of its being habitual, but in my case it was greatly strengthened because during the past years I had undoubtedly been cultivating it through my efforts to carry out my teacher’s instructions to “take hold of the floor with my feet” when I recited.
            The influence of this cultivated habitual use, therefore, acted as an almost irresistible stimulus to me to use myself in the wrong way I was accustomed to; this stimulus to general wrong use was far stronger than the stimulus of my desire to employ the new use of my head and neck, and I now saw that it was this influence which led me, as soon as I stood up to recite, to put my head in the opposite direction to that which I desired. I now had proof of one thing at least, that all my efforts up till now to improve the use of myself in reciting had been misdirected.
            It is important to remember that the use of a specific part in any activity is closely associated with the use of other parts of the organism, and that the influence exerted by the various parts one upon an other is continuously changing in accordance with the manner of use of these parts. If a part directly employed in the activity as being used in a comparatively new way which is still unfamiliar, the stimulus to use this part in the new way is weak in comparison with the stimulus to use the other parts of the organism, which are being indirectly employed in the activity, in the old habitual way. In the present case, an attempt was being made to bring about an unfamiliar use of the head and neck for the purpose of reciting. The stimulus to employ the new use of the head and neck was therefore bound to be weak as compared with the stimulus to employ the wrong habitual use of the feet and legs which had become familiar through being cultivated in the act of reciting.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 18-20.

In other words, I like everyone else depended upon “feeling” for the direction of my use.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 21.

I had already realized that in our present state of civilization which calls for continuous and rapid adaptation to a quickly changing environment, the unreasoned, instinctive direction of use such as meets the needs of the cat or dog was no longer sufficient to meet human needs. I had proved in my own case and in that of others that instinctive control and direction of use had become so unsatisfactory, and the associated feeling so untrustworthy as a guide, that it could lead us to do the very opposite of what we wished to do or thought we were doing.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 23.

And even in those rare instances where the athlete consciously controls and co-ordinates certain specific movements, it still cannot be said that he consciously controls the use of himself as a whole in his performance. For it is safe to conclude that he does not know what use of his mechanisms as a whole is the best possible for making the specific movements he desires, so that should anything happen, as it often does, to cause a change in the familiar habitual use of his mechanisms, his proficiency in making these specific movements will also be interfered with.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 23.

In the work that followed I came to see that to get a direction of my use which would ensure this satisfactory reaction, I must cease to rely upon the feeling associated with my instinctive direction, and in its place employ my reasoning processes, in order
(1) to analyse the conditions of use present;
(2) to select (reason out) the means whereby a more satisfactory use could be brought about;

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 25.

I was successful in employing my reasoning up to the point of projecting the directions which, after analysing the conditions of use present, I had decided were required for the new and improved use, and all went well as long as I did not attempt to carry these directions out for the purpose of speaking.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 26.

This meant that the old instinctive direction which, associated with untrustworthy feeling, had been the controlling factor up to that moment in the building-up of my wrong habitual use, still controlled the manner of my response, with the inevitable result that my old wrong habitual use was again and again brought into play.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 27.

By careful experimentation I discovered that I gave my directions for the new use in their sequence right up to the point when I tried to gain my end and speak, but that, at the critical moment when persistence in giving the new directions would have brought success, I reverted instead to the misdirection associated with my old wrong habitual use. This was concrete proof that I was not continuing to project my directions for the new use for the purpose of speaking, as I thought I was, but that my reaction to the stimulus to speak was still my instinctive reaction through my habitual use.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 30-31.

I had already noticed that on the occasions when I failed, the instinctive misdirection associated with my old habitual use always dominated my reasoning direction for the new use, and I gradually came to see that this could hardly be otherwise. Ever since the beginning of man’s growth and development the only form of direction of the use of himself of which he has had any experience has been instinctive direction, which might in this sense be called a racial inheritance.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 31.

As the reader knows, I had recognized much earlier that I ought not to trust to my feeling for the direction of my use, but I had never fully realized all that this implied, namely, that the sensory experience associated with the new use would be so unfamiliar and therefore “feel” so unnatural and wrong that I, like everyone else, with my ingrained habit of judging whether experiences of use were “right” or not by the way they felt, would almost inevitably balk at employing the new use.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 31-32.

It will be seen that under this new plan the change in procedure came at the critical moment when hither to, in going on to gain my end, I had so often reverted to instinctive misdirection and my wrong habitual use. I reasoned that if I stopped at that moment and then, without ceasing to project the directions for the new use, decided afresh to what end the new use should be employed, I should by this procedure be subjecting my instinctive processes of direction to an experience contrary to any experience in which they had hitherto been drilled.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 34.

And the experience I gained in maintaining the new manner of use while going on to gain some other end or refusing to gain my original end, helped me to maintain the new use on those occasions when I decided at the critical moment to go on after all and gain my original end and speak the sentence.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 35-36.

Another point of importance in relation to the control of human reaction is that it was through my discovery of the primary control that I was able to bring about the improvement in the sensory appreciation of the use of my mechanisms which was associated with the improvement in functioning throughout my organism. By the time I had reached the stage when a new manner of use had become established through my conscious employment of this primary control, I was able, when the stimulus came to me to use my voice to recite, to inhibit my instinctive misdirection leading to the old harmful use of my head and neck and vocal organs, and so to my hoarseness, and to substitute for it a conscious direction leading to a new use of my head, neck and vocal organs which was not associated with hoarseness.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 39-40.

First and foremost, I learned from these experiences that I could not enable my pupils to control the functioning of their organs, systems or reflexes directly, but that by teaching them to employ consciously the primary control of their use I could put them in command of the means whereby their functioning generally can be indirectly controlled.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 42.

But in this connexion it is of the utmost importance to remember that in most people their direction of the use of themselves is habitual and instinctive, so that once consent has been given to react to the stimulus to perform a certain act, they will perform that act, as we say, “instinctively,” that is without any reasoned conception of what direction of the use of the mechanisms is required for its satisfactory performance.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 44.

            These unsatisfactory reactions manifest themselves as symptoms of defect, of so-called “mental” or ‘‘moral’’ failing, disorder and disease, and their presence may therefore be taken as an indication of the presence also of wrong use and functioning2 through out the organism.
2.         I wish to make it plain that whenever I use the phrase “Use and functioning” in relation to the human organism, I do not indicate by it mechanical activity as such, but include in the phrase all manifestations of human activity involved in what we designate as conception or understanding, withholding or giving consent, thinking, reasoning, directing, etc. For the manifestation of such activities cannot be dissociated from the use of the mechanisms and the associated functioning of the organism.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 44.

This means that where the concerted use of the mechanisms of the organism is faulty, any attempt to eradicate a defect otherwise than by changing and improving this faulty concerted use is bound to throw out the balance somewhere else.l

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 45.

In the present instance there can be no doubt that the particular end he has in view is to make a good stroke, which means that the moment he begins to play he starts to work for that end directly, without considering what manner of use of his mechanisms generally would be the best for the making of a good stroke.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 50-51.

Strange as it may seem, I have always found that a pupil who uses him self wrongly will continue to do so in all his activities, even after the wrong use has been pointed out to him, and he has learned by experience that persistence in this wrong use is the cause of his failure.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 51-52.

This all goes to shew that in every form of activity the use of the mechanisms which comes into operation will be satisfactory or unsatisfactory according to whether our direction of that use is satisfactory or otherwise. Where the direction is satisfactory, satisfactory use of the mechanisms of the organism as a working unity will be ensured, involving a satisfactory use of the different parts, such as the arms, wrists, hands, legs, feet and eyes. It follows that where there is misdirection, this satisfactory use of the mechanisms is not at our command.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 55-56.

He would explain that any immediate reaction to the stimulus to make a good stroke would always be by means of his wrong habitual use, but that if he prevented this immediate reaction, he would at the same time be preventing the misdirection of his use that went with it and was the obstacle to the gaining of his end. He would impress upon him that of all the activities that go to the making of a good stroke, this act of prevention was the primary activity, since by the inhibition of the misdirected habitual use the way would be left clear for the teacher to build up in his pupil that new direction of the use of his mechanisms, which would substitute the means whereby he would in time be able to keep his eyes on the ball, and thus make a good stroke.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 56-57.

This primary control, called by the late Professor Magnus of Utrecht the “central control,” depends upon a certain use of the head and neck in relation to the use of the rest of the body, and once the pupil has inhibited the instinctive misdirection leading to his faulty habitual use, the teacher must begin the process of building up the new use by giving the pupil the primary direction towards the establishment of this primary control.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 60.

When this stage is reached, it will be found that the improvement in the pupil’s manner of use is associated with an improvement in his standard of functioning, and that undesirable specific symptoms, such as unsatisfactory use of the eyes, have disappeared in the process.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 61.

            This leads me to the point I wish above all to emphasize, namely, that when a person has reached a give stage of unsatisfactory use and functioning, his habit of “end-gaining” will prove to be the impeding factor in all his attempts to profit by any teaching method whatsoever.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 62.

            I therefore claim that if any habit so confirmed as that of “end-gaining” is to be changed and not merely transferred, it is essential that the pupil should be given the experience, at first in the simplest activities,
 (1) of receiving a stimulus to gain a certain end and refusing to react to it, thereby inhibiting the unsatisfactory habits of use associated with his habitual reaction;
(2) of projecting the directions for the new and more satisfactory use in their proper sequence, primary, secondary, etc., “all together, one after the other,” as already explained, whilst the teacher at the same time with his hands makes him familiar with the new sensory experiences1 associated with this new use.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 64.

I assured him that my long years of practical experience in dealing with the difficulties and idiosyncrasies of people who stutter had convinced me that stuttering was one of the most interesting specific symptoms of a general cause, namely, misdirection of the use of the psycho-physical mechanisms, and I did not wish to take him as a pupil, unless he was prepared to work with me on the basis of correcting this misdirection of use generally, as the primary step in remedying his defects in speech

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 70.

I began by giving him
 (1) the directions for the inhibition of the wrong habitual use of his mechanisms associated with the excessive muscle tension;
(2) the directions for the employment of the primary control leading to a new and improved use which would be associated with a due amount of muscle tension.
I then asked him to project these directions whilst I with my hands gave him the new sensory experiences of use corresponding to these directions, in order that the trustworthiness of his sensory appreciation in relation to the use of his mechanisms might be gradually restored, and that by this means he might in time acquire a register of the due amount of tension required for speaking, as distinct from the undue amount of tension associated with his stuttering.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 72-73.

It is important to remember that there is a working balance in the use of all the parts of the organism, and that for this reason the use of the specific part (or parts) in any activity can influence the use of the other parts, and vice versa.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 78.

Under instinctive direction this working balance becomes habitual and “feels right,” and the point at which the influence of the use of any part will make itself felt will vary and the influence of the particular use be strong or weak according to the nature of the stimulus of the end activity desired. If a defect is recognized in the use of a part, and an attempt is made to correct this defect by changing the use of the part without bringing about at the same time a corresponding change in the use of the other parts, the habitual working balance in the use of the whole will be disturbed.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 78.

On the other hand, when he has learned at a later stage in his lessons to inhibit the instinctive direction of his use and the directions for the new use have become operative, so that I am enabled to give him the corresponding sensory experiences, I have found that although he now has at his command the best conditions possible for gaining his end, he will not make any attempt to gain it.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 82.

If loss of control can be manifested only by means of the use of ourselves, it follows that a conscious direction of an improving use will bring us for the first time within striking distance of a conscious control of human reaction or behaviour.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 82.

When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions win feel right and comfortable.
            My teaching experience has shewn me that the worse these conditions are in a pupil and the longer they have been in existence, the more familiar and right they fed to him and the harder it is to teach him how to overcome them, no matter how much he may wish to do so. In of her words, his ability to learn a new and more satisfactory use of himself is, as a rule, in inverse ratio to the degree of misuse present in his organism and the duration of these harmful conditions.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 84.

Further, in all cases where I have found harmful conditions of use and functioning in association, I have also found that the sensory appreciation (that is, the knowledge which comes to us through the sensory mechanisms as to the manner of our use of ourselves), is not to be depended upon, with the result that the sensory direction of use in all activity is faulty, manifesting itself in bad habits in the everyday acts of walking, sitting, standing, eating, talking, playing games, thinking and reasoning, etc.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 92.

This goes to shew that an unsatisfactory manner of use, by interfering with general functioning, constitutes a predisposing cause of disorder and disease, and that anyone who makes a diagnosis and prescribes treatment, without finding out how much of the trouble present has arisen from this interference and how much from other causes, is leaving untouched a predisposing cause of disorder and disease.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 92-93.

I admit, of course, that by this method specific symptoms may be and often are eliminated, but since
(1) specific symptoms are never found apart from wrong functioning,
(2) the wrong functioning associated with such symptoms is always, in my experience, associated with wrong use of the mechanisms of the organism,
(3) by such methods nothing will have been done to improve this wrong use, conditions will be left within the organism which, if allowed to develop unchecked, will tend to lower the standard of functioning generally, and it will then be only a matter of time before the trouble—either the original disorder, or, as frequently happens, some more serious trouble—will manifest itself.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 101.

It is my belief that this need can be met by the employment of a technique for the building-up of a conscious direction of the use of the mechanisms, for I have found in my practical experience with pupils that in the process of learning to acquire a conscious in the place of an instinctive direction of their use, there comes about a corresponding improvement in their standard of functioning throughout the organism, and in the nature of their reactions generally.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), p. 104.

I herewith forward the names of many of the medical men referred to, all of whom can endorse this and also the following statement, namely, that the whole of my experimentation, as set down in chapter 1, from which my technique has been evolved, is concerned, not with medical “treatment” or “cures,” nor with the “self” or “the use of the self,” as such, but with the conscious direction of use (a fact indicated by the subtitle of the book). Through the employment of this conscious direction of use I found that it is impossible to dissociate use from functioning, for the improvement in the direction of control of use brings about a corresponding improvement in functioning, the whole process tending to eradicate or prevent those symptoms which come about as the result of imperfect or inadequate functioning.

Letter: “The Use of the Self–1” (1932) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 129-30.

Talk about a man’s individuality and character: it’s the way he uses himself.

“Aphorisms”, 1930s, in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 207.

The Constant Influence of Manner of Use For Good or Ill [Chapter title]

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 3.

Few of us hitherto have given consideration to the question of the extent to which we are individually responsible for the ills that our flesh is heir to; this, because we have not come to a realization of the faulty and often harmful manner in which we use ourselves in our daily activities and even during sleep,* or of the misdirection, strain and waste of energy due to this misuse. We have mostly taken it for granted that we are able to make the best use of ourselves at our work and in everything else we do.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 3.

Every reaction, therefore, is associated with a particular manner of use of these mechanisms and, because of the closeness of the association, it is this manner of use that constantly influences all manifestations of human activity, whether labelled manual or mental.
Take first the manual or skilled worker. His manner of use influences for good or ill not only his general functioning, but also the way in which he employs the instruments or tools of his trade. All his activity is his particular reaction to some stimulus. The stimulus sets in motion a certain manner of use of himself, and the way he reacts is determined by this manner of use, and in a lesser degree by the comparative strength or weakness of the stimulus in its effect upon it.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 5.

In addition to all this, their success in the last resort will depend upon the manner of the reaction of the people to be converted or instructed, since these, in their turn, will react according to the manner of use of themselves which is set in motion by the stimulus of the new idea, and also by the stimulus, potent or weak, resulting from the personality and manner of those who are presenting it.
It is surprising how few people realize that reaction is influenced, just as functioning is, by manner of use, and not many, even of these, are aware how intimately the individual’s use of self modifies the functioning and reaction of his whole being.*
The question of the nature of use in its relation to functioning and reaction in our daily activities presents a problem requiring solution, and it will be found that the attitude of most people, with very few exceptions, is that Nature makes provision for us in this respect. How often have I been asked, “Why should our use of ourselves go wrong? What is the cause?” and so on.
These questions have been answered very fully in my other books. It is true that Nature has provided us all with the potentiality for the reasoning out of means for preventing wrong use of the self, but we have not developed any preventive measures to this end because we have assumed, quite erroneously, that our manner of use of ourselves cannot go wrong or fail us.
But now that it can be demonstrated that the influence of the manner in which we use ourselves is operating continuously either for or against us every moment of our lives, it is unreasonable to cling to this assumption. A good manner of use of the self exerts an influence for good upon general functioning which is not only continuous, but also grows stronger as time goes on, becoming, that is, a constant influence tending always to raise the standard of functioning and improve the manner of reaction. A bad manner of use, on the other hand, continuously exerts an influence for ill tending to lower the standard of general functioning, thus becoming a constant influence tending always to interfere with every functional activity arising from our response to stimuli from within and without the self, and harmfully affecting the manner of every reaction.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 5-7.

The kind of constant influence, therefore, which our manner of use exerts upon functioning is of the utmost importance. If it is one that tends to raise the standard of general functioning it will be a constant influence for good; but if it is one that tends to lower this standard, then it will be a constant influence for ill. Habit, indeed, may be defined as the manifestation of a constant.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 7-8.

For this reason we should know and be able to employ the means whereby we can establish a good manner of use as a constant. Readers of The Use of the Self will remember that when I was experimenting with various ways of using myself in the attempt to improve the functioning of my vocal organs, I discovered that a certain use of the head in relation to the neck, and of the head and neck in relation to the torso and the other parts of the organism, if consciously and continuously employed, ensures, as was shown in my own case, the establishment of a manner of use of the self as a whole which provides the best conditions for raising the standard of the functioning of the various mechanisms, organs, and systems. I found that in practice this use of the parts, beginning with the use of the head in relation to the neck, constituted a primary control of the mechanisms as a whole, involving control in process right through the organism, and that when I interfered with the employment of the primary control of my manner of use, this was always associated with a lowering of the standard of my general functioning. This brought me to realize that I had found a way by which we can judge whether the influence of our manner of use is affecting our general functioning adversely or otherwise, the criterion being whether or not this manner of use is interfering with the correct* employment of the primary control.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 8.

When, on the other hand, a person’s manner of use is such that there is no interference with the correct employment of the primary control, it means that an influence is constantly operating in his favour, tending always to raise the standard of functioning within the self, both in outside activity and during sleep.
The full significance of this will be apparent to those of us who have had the experience of applying my technique consistently to the task of changing use by the indirect method of preventing interference with the manner of employment of the primary control, for this experience involves a practical demonstration that our manner of use is a constant influence for good or ill upon our general functioning.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 9.

We shall also see how important it is that every one of us should know how to estimate the degree in which our functioning is being influenced in one direction or the other by our manner of use, so that we can with confidence check any trend of this influence in the wrong direction. In short, it will be seen that the ability to assess the influence of manner of use upon general functioning provides a basis that is fundamental for diagnosis.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 9.

[Chapter title]  The Constant Influence of Manner of use in Relation to Diagnosis and Disease

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 13.

The striking characteristic which I observed to be common to all these cases was a misdirection and misuse of parts which was associated with an extreme interference with the subject’s employment of the primary control of use, leading to such harmful conditions as undue lumbar curve of the spine, undue tension of the neck, arms, and legs, and overaction of muscle groups of the organism.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 16.

The use of the anti-gravity muscles was so misdirected that the working of these muscles tended to lessen the anti-gravity influence which is of vital importance in maintaining equilibrium.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 16.

This condition of overaction of muscle groups is not present in cases where there is correct employment of the primary control; but this is not taken into account by those who diagnose postural defects without consideration of the influence of use upon general functioning, and who prescribe the practice of exercises, remedial or otherwise.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 21.

Thus the change brought about in the manner of use of the vocal organs was an indirect result of the change in the pupil’s manner of general use of the self.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 29.

The reconditioning process will include a continuous raising of the standard of reliability of his sense of feeling, so that in time he will find it almost as difficult to revert to the old habitual manner of use which once felt right, as it was at the beginning of his lessons to employ the new and better manner of use which, at that time, despite all the help given him by his teacher, still felt wrong.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 39.

Most important of all, his unreliable sensory guidance will lead him to a wrong employment of the primary control of his use of himself which will be a constant influence working against him during the performance of his exercises, while in most cases the harmful effect of this influence upon his general functioning will be increased by any effort he makes to do the exercise “right,” because, as already explained, his “right” is wrong in the use of himself.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 43-44.

In fact, one can guarantee that the one thing a person in need of help will not do is what is right in the use of himself in performing exercises, no matter by whom they are designed. All exercises are fundamentally the same in the sense that the activity which goes to their performance is inseparable from the habitual manner of general use of the performer.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 44.

The instinctive misdirection which led to interference with the employment of the primary control will be changed to a conscious guidance of the use of the self, associated with reliability of sensory appreciation.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 52.

If a knowledge of the influence of use upon functioning, and the experience of applying such knowledge in practice is essential to medical men in general, how much more essential must it be to the doctor working according to a plan of prevention in its full sense, for, when making his diagnosis of conditions in the child at an early age, he should be able to detect those incipient errors in use which are found associated with a lowered standard of functioning and which, if left unchecked, lead in time to the development of disorders, and are the forerunners of disease.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 64.

Life is the manifestation of use in association with the functioning of the organism, and it is this combination, working as a unity, that makes reaction to stimuli possible. Health in living, therefore, may be defined as the best possible reaction of the organism to the stimuli of living as manifested in its use and functioning. To ensure this we require as a constant the best possible manner of use and the highest possible standard of functioning at a given time, in a given environment, and under given circumstances; and this I submit constitutes the ideal of human attainment in the field in which we are interested.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 65.

In many instances this is a difficult problem to solve, but it is not unduly difficult. The first step is to make the necessary training in the subject of the use of the self a feature of the curriculum at as many medical schools as the number of teachers of my technique now available will permit.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 66.

Yet in all such instances I am able and willing to demonstrate that the manner of use of the pupil is not only leading to functional trouble, but is also associated with it, and that in consequence any strenuous exercise or drill must tend to exaggerate the pupil’s habitual manner of use, and so tend to lower gradually the standard of his functioning—the sure and certain way to disorder and ultimately to disease.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 68.

The Constant Influence of Manner of Use in Relation to Change [Chapter title]

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 71.

Yet it is a demonstrable fact that control of the use of ourselves and control of emotional and other reactions is as closely associated as is control of manner of use and control of al that prevents interference with the raising of the standard of functioning.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 72.

Bad habits of use are fundamental conditions of abnormality, and it is reasonable to expect them to be associated with such other abnormalities as an excessive craving for alcohol or tobacco, and even more reasonable to conclude that when we begin to eradicate the fundamental conditions of abnormality throughout the organism by changing the manner of use, we are taking the first step to the gradual eradication of other forms of abnormality within the self.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 74.

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. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 78.

 

At the same time the teacher will with his hands give the pupil the actual sensory experience of this new employment of the primary control, and thus will be able to help him to maintain the improving manner of use which results from this new experience in making any movement that may be required in the course of the lesson, such as that of moving from standing to sitting in a chair. By this means a real change, however small, will have been made, and it will be found that this is the beginning of a process of reconditioning leading in time to permanent change in use, functioning, and structural conditions.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 80-81.

The reader will now see that the technique is based upon the inhibition of the habitual wrong use—i.e., the refusal to react to a stimulus in the usual way—and that the principle of prevention is strictly adhered to from the beginning. The habitual wrong employment of the primary control of the pupil’s use of himself, responsible for his reaction in performing such acts as sitting in and rising from a chair, is prevented, and is gradually superseded by a new and improved manner of use which, by a reconditioning procedure, is associated with new reflex activity.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 81-82.

The time ultimately comes when the pupil no longer feels any desire to use the old lines of communication; they fall into disuse, and communicating along the new lines at last comes to feel right and is carried out with confidence.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 82.

The new way of use will have come to feel right while the old way will feel wrong. As we have seen, one of the serious obstacles to be overcome in helping pupils to change their manner of use is that any change from the old wrong use (the known) to the new right use (the unknown) feels wrong to them, and at each stage of change the new improving manner of use has to be experienced for some time before the pupil can feel that it is right and comfortable, and so develop faith and confidence in the employment of it.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 83.

The same is true of animals. The dog manifests a similar change in use and functioning when reacting to some stimulus which arouses his fighting instinct; the hair on his back is raised, his eyes roll and glare, the lips are contracted to show the teeth, and the angle of his head, attitude of his body, and the particular action of his limbs are all manifestations of his desire to quarrel and fight.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 87.

The advocates of these new plans in every field of reform still seem to think it reasonable to assume that people will be able to make the changes they consider necessary for putting some new ideal into practice, or for substituting new procedures for those which they had previously employed for the gaining of some end, without changing the nature of the guidance and control of the use of the self, the instrument they must employ for carrying out these new procedures.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 90.

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. For this reason the person who has hitherto depended in all his “doing” upon an instinctive (automatic) use of himself finds it difficult* to adhere to a decision to employ procedures which involve a guidance and control in the use of himself which is not in line with any previous experience either in thought or in action.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 91-92.

The training that this presupposes has already been described and has proved to be the means of meeting the problem of making and carrying out decisions such as confront those who are trying to improve conditions of use and raise the standard of functioning in the psycho-physical self, the forerunner of all fundamental change.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 96.

In my work we are concerned primarily with non-doing in the fundamental sense of what we should not do in the use of ourselves in our daily activities; in other words, with preventing that habitual misuse of the psycho-physical mechanisms which renders these activities a constant source of harm to the organism.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 98.

But although they may have become convinced that it is what they themselves are doing that is responsible for the wrong manner of use they are anxious to change, and that as a first step in acting on this conviction they must learn HOW to stop this “doing,” there is little to show that, in learning, their intellectual grasp of the theory furnishes them with the assistance they need for putting it into practice. Nor does it help them to appreciate that in selecting the necessary practical procedures for changing their manner of use, non-doing (in the primary sense of preventing themselves from doing those things which lead to a repetition of their wrong habitual manner of use) is not only of the greatest practical value, but also essential to their purpose.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. 98–99.

By means of the procedures herein described,* the constant effect of manner of use upon general functioning will be a more or less good one in accordance with the skill of the teacher and the attitude of the pupil, and even the most difficult cases can be helped to success by the employment of procedures which make for the building up of confidence not only in the pupil’s attempts to “do,” but—more important still—in his attempts to prevent himself from doing things he knows he should not do, and does not desire to do, first, with regard to his own manner of using himself, and then in applying this use through himself to his activities in the outside world. (Non-doing in the fullest sense.)

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 100.

Had they done this they would have seen that the psycho-physical controlling part is inseparable from the working of the other parts, and is as responsible for the misdirected use of specific muscles and tendons or groups of muscles as it is for that coordinated working of the postural mechanisms as a whole necessary to the normal use of these mechanisms.
This demands a recognition of the existence of a central (primary) control which influences indirectly the manner of the working of the postural mechanisms, both in the person enjoying satisfactory use as well as in those who do not.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. 105–06.

Physiology, it is true, does indicate the function of particular muscles, say of the inner or outer intercostal muscles, but it does not and cannot indicate the means whereby these muscles are operated relatively to the individual’s use of his mechanisms as an indivisible unity, so as to ensure that integrated working of the organism which we always find associated with the standard of functioning present in a person in whom the way of employing the primary control is a constant influence for good.
The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. 106–07.

The ability to estimate the influence of the primary control for good or ill upon the working of the mechanisms in the use of ourselves would enable the diagnostician to recognize the complications due to the misdirection of this use, and to employ means whereby complicated conditions may be changed and gradually become less and less complicated, although the working of the mechanisms would still be complex.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 108.

This led me to discover that a particular relativity of the head to the neck and the head and neck to the other parts of the organism tended to improve general use and functioning of the organism as a whole, and that the motivation for this use was from the head downwards, and, further, that any other particular relativity tended towards the opposite effect.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 112.

Throughout my writings I have tried to make it clear that in my technique the emphasis is laid first and always on the consideration of the right manner of use of the self, and that only on having reached a point where one is able to command the “means-whereby” of a satisfactory use of the self can one safely go on to apply this satisfactory control of use to an outside occupation.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 140.

The bad results of this method are too much in evidence today to need enlarging upon, and where they are present they make it impossible for the singer or actor to maintain his highest standard of functioning as an artist. The idea underlying such methods of training arises from the belief that it is possible to give specific help to separate parts of the organism, as if the breathing mechanisms of the artist for instance functioned separately and apart from his vocal mechanisms or his general use of himself, and, what is more to the point, as if the use and functioning of these mechanisms could be separated from the use and functioning of the organism as a whole, whereas they are as closely associated and as dependent upon one another as are the parts of our mental and physical make-up. It can be demonstrated that the person who learns to use himself properly by relying upon the correct employment of the primary control of his use of himself will breathe to the best possible advantage in singing or speaking, as well as in all the other activities of life.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 141.

Hence the need for a technique which enables us to put into practice new beliefs in new ways of doing things in the process of making changes in the habitual use of the self, and it is necessary for us to gain the experiences involved in this before we can possibly understand the significance of change in the working of a constant (use) which can influence for good or ill the general psycho-physical functioning of the individual.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 146.

This experience of passing from a “known” to an “unknown” manner of use of the self is the basic need in making a fundamental change in the control of man’s reaction, and he will remain impotent in meeting it, unless it is possible to give him the opportunity of accepting an unfamiliar theory and of acquiring the experience of employing consistently the unfamiliar procedures which are its practical counterpart, by means of an integrating process of reconditioning associated with experiences of use and functioning previously unknown to him.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 157.

In such circumstances the people concerned will be aware of impeding influences, but will be unaware that they are the result of their harmful interference with the employment of the primary control of their use of themselves.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 158.

The time has come for realizing that by means of a conscious employment of the primary control of use we can with confidence ensure the best possible manner of use of ourselves at all times and in all circumstances, and that by this indirect means our psycho-physical self can be energized and controlled to the best advantage, no matter what our activities may be.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 160.

Even among those people today who accept the ideal of “wholeness” there are few who are sufficiently skilled in the art of living to put the ideal into practice, and their failures may be ascribed to the fact that knowledge of the use of themselves, as it affects the guidance and control of their reaction, is not part of the foundation on which present civiliztion has been built, nor is this knowledge part of the equipment of those who undertake to teach and rule humanity.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 162.

He may claim to be an advocate of freedom of thought and action, and may even be a person who acts up to this theory in his daily living; but he cannot, in consequence, claim to be able to put into practice that greatest of all attainments—freedom in thought and action—until he has gained that knowledge of the means whereby he can command the best use and functioning of himself in activity which is essential to change and control of reaction in the basic sense.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 178.

Thus the first procedure, which is an inhibitory act, in being linked with the other procedures, becomes the beginning of a volitionary act which involves thinking in activity and enables us to gradually change and improve the general use and functioning which is a manifestation of the nature of our reaction.

The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 179.

In this connection my first point is that the fundamental cause of any specific trouble in the human organism will be found to be associated with a harmful use of the self as a unified whole, and that the conditions which the writers of these articles cite as the cause of specific troubles are symptoms of a harmful use of the self, revealed in the very symptoms which the writers are endeavouring to cure.
In my experience in my own field, and in work done with medical men interested in my technique, I have observed the results of exercises used with the aim of removing certain specific symptoms, and have noted that the more successful these have been considered to be as means of gaining an end—namely the disappearance of certain symptoms—the more harmful became the manner of use of the self associated with the performance of these exercises—a manner of use which was basically responsible for the harmful influence upon the general functioning of the organism and therefore for the specific symptoms which the writers attempted to cure by the use of exercises.

Letter: ‘Ends and Means in Treatment’ (November 1948) in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), p. 137.

 

Supposing you give consent and get out of the chair, you will use yourself exactly as you have always done before. And I am prepared to demonstrate that that use of yourself is responsible for an ill-effect upon your general functioning, which is bringing about the difficulty in your use of whatever it is that you are troubled with. . .

“St. Dunstan’s Lecture”, 1949 in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 185.

I have been teaching for 56 years, with a new lesson every half hour, and I have never had a person yet who could keep to a decision that we make for him for two seconds, if the procedures for it to be carried out are not in keeping with his habit of use—and I never will. . . .

“St. Dunstan’s Lecture”, 1949 in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 186.

The amount of effort that is used is infinitesimal compared with the other [way], and the great point is that he is beginning to use himself in the right way and to control it. In the ordinary way there is no control, or if there is control, it is superimposed. Now, he has to get control in process. . . .

“St. Dunstan’s Lecture”, 1949 in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 188.

Take my advice: don’t trust your feeling at all. I advise you whenever you feel a thing is wrong, to do it that way and test it out. You will probably find it is right. But if you do what you feel, once your use has been interfered with, then your feelings will deceive you. There must have been a time when man used himself reasonably well and without any bad effect on his general functioning. He used to depend on feeling for guidance and he still does it. But why did he go wrong? . . .

“St. Dunstan’s Lecture”, 1949 in Articles and Lectures by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 188.

 

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