Chapter 4: The Stutterer

1. What did Alexander point out to the stutterer about his symptom of stuttering vis-a-vis his whole manner of use?

2. What in Alexander’s opinion is stuttering due to, and what does this cause decree about the appropriate remedy?

3. What would happen if the stutterer tried by any special effort to “will” to speak without stuttering?

4. What is the reason for stutterer defeating his own end?

5. What did Alexander urge the stutterer to realize from the beginning of his lessons?

6. What is the only way to convince the stutterer that he could speak with less muscle tension? Why?

7. What procedure did Alexander follow in working with the stutterer?

8. At what point did Alexander allow his pupil to attempt to employ his new means whereby for speaking?

9. Of what did Alexander remind the stutterer at this point in their work?

10. How did Alexander ask the stutterer to respond to his request to pronounce a sound or word? What did the stutterer do?

11. How did the stutterer defeat his purpose?

12. How had the stutterer’s previous teachers compounded his problem?

13. How would the procedure of the stutterer’s previous teachers serve to aggravate his difficulty? Why?

14. What was the result of the stutterer’s attempting to practise his teacher’s instructions, and how did it add considerably to the difficulty of breaking his end gaining habit?

15. Why does Alexander feel that no cure has been actually made when the appearance of a cure is effected by methods based on the end gaining principle?

16. What must obtain if a cure is to be accepted as effective or scientific?

17. What invariably happens when defects and diseases are “cured” by specific methods, and what does this explain?

18. For what reason does the use of a specific part or parts in any activity influence the use of other parts?

19. What happens to the working balance of the body under instinctive direction?

20. What happens if an attempt is made to correct a defect by changing the use of a specific part?

21. What will happen unless the person attempting to make a change in the use of a specific part has an understanding of what is required to bring about at the same time a corresponding change in the use of the other parts?

22. What did Alexander impress once more upon his pupil, after the pupil has shown him the exercises the other teachers had advised him to use?

23. What did the pupil do in response?

24. Why did the pupil make no attempt to speak until he had deliberately brought about the familiar but excessive tension which caused him to stutter?

25. How did Alexander deal with this difficulty?

26. What did the pupil gradually acquire and how?

27. What else did the pupil learn in the course of Alexander’s procedure?

28. What will bring us within striking distance of a conscious control of human reaction or behavior? How will this occur?

29. What results when pupils fail to inhibit their old direction of use?

30. Why do pupils not go on to gain their end once they have learned to inhibit their old direction and the new directions have become operative?

31. What does Alexander do when this difficulty arises?

32. What must happen before the improved use “feels right” to the pupil?

33. What lesson is to be learned from all this pupil’s experience?

34. Why do pupils have little or no incentive to gain their ends when their use is changed to one that is unfamiliar?

35. Why is gaining an end by a use that is unfamiliar like taking a plunge in the dark?

36. What will pupils most often need to enable them to take this “plunge?”

37. What gradually develops in pupils vis-a-vis the new use? Why?

38. Why does the incentive to employ the new use come to be far stronger than the incentive to employ the old use?

39. What is one of our most remarkable characteristics?

40. What is the correlation between the length of time unsatisfactory conditions of use have been occurring in a pupil and the ease or difficulty of changing them?

41. What must be taken into consideration by anyone forming a plan of procedure for improving the use and functioning of the mechanisms throughout the organism?

42. What did Alexander answer when his pupil asked why it was so much more difficult to break his stuttering “habit” than to break his smoking habit?

43. Why does the process of eradicating a defect such as stuttering make the greatest demands on the time, patience and skill of both teacher and pupil?

44. What ability on the part of the teacher and pupil must increase when following this process of directing energy out of familiar into new and unfamiliar paths?

Thought Questions

1. Alexander writes (p. 73) of the stutterer that “…he might in time acquire a register of the due amount of tension required for speaking, as distinct form the undue amount of tension associated with his stuttering.” How do we register tension? Do we have some kind of psycho-physical meter that registers tension used, and does this meter somehow get re-calibrated with Alexander Technique lessons? It seems that we might be able to realize that we used too much effort or tension for a particular activity, and certainly we might make a particular movement and register that it felt particularly light and easy and assume that we used less tension for that movement than we typically do. But how can we ever know that we used only the minimum amount required? And if we could have that knowledge, of what use would it be?

2. Alexander writes (p. 75) of the stutterer that “the idea of trying to say T or D acted as an incentive to the pupil to employ the habitual use of himself associated with the wrong use of his tongue and lips.” Alexander often uses this word “associated” as in (p. 14) “…I must also prevent those other associated wrong uses…” Or from CCCI (p. 131-132) “The act and the particular feeling associated with it become one in our recognition.” What is this process of association on a neuropsychological level? How does it work?

3. Alexander writes (p. 82) of the stutterer “…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…”What does Alexander mean by saying the “directions for the new use have become operative?” If the stutterer has inhibited the directions for his old use, and the directions for the new use are operative, i.e. actually being projected, wouldn’t the corresponding sensory experiences be “operative” also? Why would Alexander have to give him the corresponding sensory experiences?

4. Alexander writes (p. 78) that “Itis 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. Under instinctive direction this working balance becomes habitual and “feels right….” ” Does this working balance become habitual and feel right under conscious reasoned direction?

5. On p. 87 Alexander writes that this process “…calls for

(1) the inhibition of the instinctive direction of energy associated with familiar sensory experiences of wrong habitual use, and

(2) the building up in its place of a conscious direction of energy through the repetition of unfamiliar sensory experiences associated with new and satisfactory use.”

Is there any difference between direction of use and direction of energy? If so, what is that difference?