Body and Mature Behavior is a unique study of human development that is concerned with the relationships between movement, emotional maturity, and behavior patterns. Moshe Feldenkrais, the developer of the Feldenkrais Method®, was superbly aware of the muscular responses, tensions, and rigidity that lead to both physical and emotional problems. The book’s subtitle speaks to the primary themes of the book — anxiety, sex, gravitation, and learning. Feldenkrais outlines his primary topics in an intellectually rich and eloquent style. From the very introduction, Feldenkrais delves straight to the heart of his case: a condensed description of the conditions of our existence, touching upon topics like neurology, prehistory, child development, individual-societal relationships, and more. A fascinating discussion of gravitation and the anti-gravity mechanism is followed by a discussion of the effects of emotion (especially anxiety and the attitude to sexuality) on posture and on personal patterns of movement. Feldenkrais speaks to the importance of acknowledging the inseparability of the body and the mind.
Table of Contents
- Degeneration And Ignorance
- Some Pertinent Facts
- Adaptation And Correlation
- Learning – The Uniqueness Of Man
- Conditioned Reflexes And Habits
- The Antigravity Mechanisms
- Erect Posture And Action
- Sensation And Vestibular Apparatus
- The Body Pattern Of Anxiety
- Motility And Adjustment
- “Measuring” Posture
- The Sixth Sense
- Normal Gravitation Adjustment
- Tonic Adjustment
- Body And Emotions
- Muscular Habit And The Sexual Act
- Localisation Of Functions And Maturity
- Summary And Review
- Conclusions Index
An excerpt from the foreword of the 1994 German edition
by Robert Schleip
It is 1943/44, in the middle of the second world war. In a remote part of Scotland, the British government has hidden a small circle of scientists away who are considered as especially valuable to them. They are all, without exception, the best in their field and come from all possible areas. Among them is Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais.
Continue reading here.
From Chapter 12 “Measuring” Posture
Emotions are essentially subjective, and only those who experience them have any idea of the comparative intensity of such experiences. However, there are somatic changes that give an indirect observable account of such reactions. This is particularly so in the case of anxiety states where the extensor inhibition is most marked. We have already mentioned the well-known fact that people with emotional trouble seem to be incapable of full extension.
Chronic anxiety, inhibiting the antigravity muscles, does, in fact, lead to attitudes with the extensors lacking normal tonus. In such cases, the subject will also frequently revert to conscious control of the highly unpleasant sensation in the pit of the stomach. Through the intimate relation of the vestibular excitation with the cardiac and diaphragmatic regions, holding breath and flexor contraction subdue these disagreeable reactions. In cases of long standing, these patterns integrate into the reflex pattern of erect carriage and carriage is no longer fully erect. Standing is now maintained with superfluous muscular tension, even when the center of gravity is at its highest possible position. The cervical and lumbar curves are exaggerated and the lack of tonus in the antigravity muscles, especially of the shoulder-neck joints, and in the hip-pelvis region, will shift the center of gravity forward. The toes will carry more weight than the flexor digitori can cope with permanently. They will contract strongly, and the toes will crook or buckle.
From Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation, and Learning by Moshe Feldenkrais, published by Frog Books/North Atlantic Books, copyright © 1949 by Moshe Feldenkrais, copyright © 2005 by Michel Silice. Reprinted by permission of publisher.