Chapter 2: The Constant Influence of Manner of Use in Relation to Diagnosis and Disease

1. What is Alexander’s contention regarding the importance of a knowledge of the influence of use upon function vis-a-vis medical diagnosis? Why?

2. Why has Alexander finally decided to quote from some of the medical evidence at his disposal?

3. What was the common factor in all the cases sent to Alexander?

4. How does Alexander’s technique differ from all systems of exercise?

5. How does Alexander use the words “abnormal” and “abnormality?”

6. How does Mr. B’s case illustrate the importance of the principle of inhibition?

7. By what is the nature of our reaction to a conception determined?

8. Upon what is conception dependent?

9. What is the relationship between faulty sensory appreciation and our belief system?

10. What was Alexander’s “vicious circle” and how did he break out of it?

11. Where does the “real task” begin in relation to changing psycho-physical functioning? How do we accomplish this task?

11. Why does the “harmful psycho-physical tension,” which is present in all conditions which require medical treatment, tend to constantly increase?

Thought Questions

1. What is the experience that Alexander wanted to give Mr. B that Mr. B. needed “for improving the employment of his primary control?” (p. 35). How is this experience “given?”

2. Alexander writes (p. 33) that “this new reaction comes in time to take the place of the former habitual reaction, to be equally part of ourselves and therefore to “feel right.” ” If there comes a time when the new reaction “feels right” how can we be sure that what “feels right” is in fact “right?”

3. On page 20, Alexander lists numerous conditions that have been alleviated by employing his technique. Granted that manner of use is of prime importance to health, do you feel that conditions such as epilepsy can respond to only Alexander Technique lessons? Would some of the cases sent to Alexander have been diagnosed differently using today’s techniques of diagnosis?

4. Alexander talks about making “structural and other changes” (p. 25) in Mr. B. Throughout this chapter Alexander writes about use, structure and functioning. What is structure? What does it entail? What does Alexander mean by use? By functioning? If functioning is how any of our systems (circulatory, muscular, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, etc.) operates, and if use is how we direct ourselves (consciously or unconsciously) then poor use will lead to poor functioning, and presumably eventually “structural” changes. The corollary would be that good use insures good functioning and prevents any structural changes for the worse. Alexander makes an additional corollary, namely that a restoration of good use through the principles of his technique will not only restore proper functioning but reverse structural damage. Can the Alexander Technique affect change in all structural conditions? Can it effect change in any structural conditions? How can a technique which retrains our thinking, i.e. how we project messages from our brain to the mechanisms and conduct the energy necessary to the use of these mechanisms have any effect on our structure?