Chapter 5: The Constant Influence of Manner of Use in Relation to Change

Part I: The Human Element

1. How is exercising self control against a bad habit merely a process of elimination?

2. How is an attitude of dependence on instinct (nature) revealed in the ordinary attitude towards self control?

3. Why have we failed to understand fully what is required for changing habit?

4. How does change become merely a matter of transfer in a person with ill use?

5. How must any value of improvement be judged?

6. What is necessary in order to change habitual reaction permanently without the accompaniment of harmful by-products? Why?

7. What is the difference between fixed conditioning (e.g. Pavlovian) and what Alexander proposes?

8. How does the case of a person who exercises control based on elimination of the specific stimuli not constitute a case of control of reaction by reconditioning in Alexander’s sense?

9. How and why in the case of addicts is the decision to change a habit difficult to carry out? How is this similar to people who indulge themselves in certain harmful ways with regard to keeping themselves in equilibrium?

10. Why is it reasonable to assume that when we begin to eradicate the fundamental conditions of abnormality throughout the organism, we are taking the first steps toward the gradual eradication of other forms of abnormality within the self?

11. What has been missed in all schemes of reform? What additionally accounts for our reactions seldom corresponding to the ideals we profess?

12. What is the price we are paying for so-called progress and improvement?

Part II: Procedures Involved in the Technique–First Principles in the Control of Human Reaction

13. What is Alexander’s definition of habit in this book? How does it compare to his earlier definition of habit in Chapter V of MSI?

14. Why, in his attempt to help a pupil to change habitual reaction, does Alexander begin with procedures that involve only simple activities on the pupil’s part?

15. What is the attitude of most people towards learning to do things which they hope will bring about the changes they desire?

16. What are the problems with orthodox teaching and learning methods?

17. How does a student’s attempts to either concentrate, or visualize what is to be done and how to do it lessen the chance of success?

18. What must a satisfactory technique for making the changes we are considering include?

19. To what must the student refuse to give consent?

20. What is the teacher’s responsibility vis-a-vis the pupil employing a new means-whereby?

21. What are the incentives for endgaining on the pupil’s part?

22. Why are pupils at first incapable of carrying out a decision which runs counter to all their earlier experience in the use of themselves? What do they do instead?

23. Why is the idea involved in trying to do better at one time than another merely a myth?

24. Given time, what will pupils learn, and what will this enable them to do?

25. Once a teacher is satisfied that up to this point the pupil has a satisfactory understanding of the theoretical side of Alexander’s work how will the teacher take the pupil on to further stages?

26. In what way is the principle of prevention strictly adhered to from the beginning of lessons?

27. According to Alexander, what are the steps in the process by which a reconditioning procedure is associated with a new reflex activity?

28. By what process does a pupil begin the inhibition of wrong use of the primary control in all the simple and other acts of life?

29. How is inhibition primary?

30. How does succeeding in the inhibition of our habitual reflex activity mean education in the fundamental sense?

31. What is the first experience which in time will lead us to the control of our habitual reactions?

32. After initial inhibition, what must be our next concern? The next?

33. How does change become possible?

34. How do we accomplish what John Dewey calls “thinking in activity?”

35. How is the new plan which Alexander suggests different from the ordinary way in which people have reacted before?

36. Where do people chiefly go wrong in projecting continued, conscious orders?

37. The employment of inhibition calls for the exercise of what 2 faculties? How are these used?

38. What is Alexander’s Technique primarily a technique for? Why?

39. What is the nature of a person’s reaction determined by? What examples does Alexander give of this?

Part III: The Fundamental Approach

40. What are responsible for the manifestations which constitute our habitual manner of reacting to a particular stimulus?

41. What is the greatest unsolved problem in the education and development of humankind? Why?

42. Why have we been handicapped from the outset of civilized life?

43. What happens when we are faced with the unfamiliar?

44. What makes the problem of change more difficult?

45. What is the result of our unreliability of sensory impressions?

46. What blocks our way to success in trying to make changes?

47. What do advocates of new plans of training and education fail to recognize is the case with the majority of people today?

48. What does carrying out the task of making changes demand from us?

49. What does acting successfully along new lines of thought mean?

50. What needs to happen before one can be said to have really accepted a new idea, or approved of the “means-whereby” of putting it into practice?

51. What determines the nature and value of one’s judgement?

52. What is the only kind of change a person makes who relies on “willing” and “wishing” to effect improvement?

53. How can self repression and the development of undesired by-products be avoided when changing a reaction in such a way as to be able to control some habit or defect?

54. Upon what will success depend, in the last analysis?

55. With what fundamental sense of non-doing are we concerned in our work?

56. What will a person who has the greatest difficulty in putting in to practice the idea of non-doing in their attempts to make changes in their own manner of use most often consistently advocate? Why might this be so?

57. What “prevention is the form of non-doing which is essential to the changing of bad habits, and to the control of human reaction?” (p. 132)

58. What is the failure to change bad habits largely due to?

59. What is non-doing in the fullest sense?

Thought Questions

1. Alexander talks about the ordinary attitude towards self control being dependent upon instinct (p. 92). He also talks about (p. 93) a particular habit being associated with a certain habitual manner of using the self. What bearing does this have upon the pupil (e.g. musician with tendonitis, a computer user with a sore back) who comes for specific relief because they have heard that the Alexander Technique is “good for back pain?” How do might we as teachers deal with this type of pupil?

2. Alexander seems to couple control of the use of ourselves with control of emotional and other reactions and control of manner of use with control of all that prevents interference with the raising of the standard of functioning. What is the connection between the raising of the standard of our functioning and the control of the use of ourselves?

3. Is it possible to teach the Alexander Technique in a model of “cure by transfer?” What do you see as the results of teaching this way?

4. Alexander states (p. 94) “To change habitual reaction permanently without the accompaniment of harmful by-products it is necessary to change the manner of use of the self that is associated with it.” Given the rest of that paragraph, is this type of change a cure by transfer in sheep’s clothing? What are reflex activities? Are reflex activities reconditioned, substituted, or do they remain, but do we elect not to activate them, and give instead consent to other, non-habitual movement choices?

5. Alexander states that “bad habits of use are fundamental conditions

of abnormality…” (p. 96), and implies that abnormality, both “physical” and “mental,” can only be eradicated by applying his principles. How do we decide what is normal? Is there a “normal” morality?

6. According to Alexander in this chapter, what must happen before a pupil can develop faith and confidence in employing any new improving manner of use? Is this process different from Alexander’s own experience when he decided that “trust in my reasoning processes to bring me safely to my “end” must be a genuine trust, not a half-trust needing the assurance of feeling right as well?” (Use of the Self, p. 33).

7. What is the relation between (p. 112) “…consciously refusing to project the messages which habitually” interfere with the employment of the primary control, and the preventive orders that Alexander lists in the chapter Illustration from CCCI (p. 175-176)?

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