Can Alexander Technique Cure Depression?

David Gorman (a veteran Alexander Technique teacher who developed, writes:

Of course, all of us who have had many experiences of change through the Alexander Technique know that a change in your manner of use does affect your mental and emotional state and your thinking. But the operative word is “affect”. A change to better use “may” affect your outlook, at least for a while, but if the underlying way of seeing the world and seeing yourself has not changed then no amount of Alexander “experiences” are going to free you from what it feels like to see the world and yourself the way you do.

The best you might get is a temporary change each time as you ride the feeling of the changed coordination you get in lessons. But as soon as your old way of experiencing the world and understanding the world creep back in, you’ll be right back in the same reactions and responses…

Normally, of course, Alexander teachers do not attempt to find out how their pupils are thinking about themselves and their lives and their relationships, etc. (except maybe for how pupils are thinking about thoir necks). That is “psychological” stuff and is left to therapists, etc.

Yet, without finding out the ideas people have about themselves and life, how can you understand why they feel the way they do? Or even why they are in the sort of physical coordinations (that we call “use”) they are in?

I think many times we have it backwards. We think that if we change the use we will change the thoughts and feelings (it’s all one unity, isn’t it? and it doesn’t matter which way you “get in”)…

But if you were feeling a bit down one day, you’d probably have a use that was ‘down’ and heavy. If you then found out that you’d won the lottery your use would immediately change to one of up and joy and delight. What we call our “use” is our response to the situations we are in and how we interpret them. As our interpretations become habitual so too do these responses.

It does not work the other way. If you could go for a lesson and became freed up and out of your heaviness. You’d probably feel lighter, and you might feel more joy and even delight, but you would not automatically win the lottery. In fact, you’d probably do what most students do, you walk out of the lesson feeling pretty good until you got back into your life which you still see the same way and therefore will still respond to with the same “use”. The only change is that now you’d probably be trying to keep or get back that wonderful light and “up” feeling to help you cope.

There are a small percentage of AT pupils who are able to take insights from their changed use in the lessons and see themselves and the world differently, but as Walter Carrington said one day as i was discussing this sport of thing with him, it is way less than 5% of people. And my own teaching experiences totally concur.

However, it is also my experience that once we can help the pupil uncover the way they see things (their “reality” — at least what they think reality is like) and help expose the misunderstandings and misattributions they are suffering under, then they no longer believe that things are that way. As it stops seeming “real” to them, they stop reacting that way. And as they start having a reliable appreciation (accurate interpretation) of the way things are, they start to experience things the way most of us do.

In other words, it is not a case of poor use or unreliable sensory appreciation. It is a case of Unreliable Reality Appreciation.

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