lørdag 26. april 2014

Eyebody part 1

The art of integrating eyes, body and brain – and letting go of glasses forever

Vision is our dominating sense. Its influence on how we think, act and live should not be underestimated. Peter Grunwald is regarded by many as the leading authority on eyesight and visual functioning in the Alexander Technique community. I have known about him since I trained to be an Alexander Technique teacher in England in the nineties, but I didn't know much about his work. Last year I happened to hear an
interview which caught my attention and I decided to take a closer look at the Eyebody Method. In this first part of the article I present the underlying principles.(1)

The Eyebody Patterns

Peter Grunwald was strongly myopic and wore glasses for myopia and astigmatism from the age of three. He had a bad stutter and as he grew up he developed a slumped posture. German born he moved to New Zealand where he encountered the Alexander Technique. Through the Technique he was greatly helped with his stutter and body use and trained to be an Alexander Technique teacher. Always keenly interested in eyesight he also studied the Bates method (2) intensively. This led him to stop wearing glasses.

Then one day he was sitting in his studio: “pondering my astigmatism, an irregular curvature of the cornea, which I had had since childhood. I wondered if it was possible to access my corneas and I started to think about them, especially about their insides. As I did this I got a kinaesthetic sense of them. When the thought of tightening my corneas went through my mind I noticed a marked slumping in my chest area. As an Alexander teacher it would have been easy for me to rectify this and to move out of my slump. Instead I stayed with it, but this time I directed my corneas to release. Instantly my chest moved out of the slump into uprightness” (Grunwald 2004, p. 33).

Although Grunwald could possibly have sensed his corneas, the 'tightening' most probably involved tensing extrinsic eye-muscles. There is a strong association between a fixed glare and holding the breath. Grunwalds experience shows the intimate connection between our thoughts and what happens in the body. But Grunwald believed there was a direct connection between the corneas and the chest, and wondered if there were other such connections:
“My next question was about the retina: was there any part of the body relating to the retina? There was indeed ... by thinking into my retinas, as I had my corneas, I noticed my lower back started to change from tightening to releasing. I became taller and more balanced over my pelvis” (ibid, 34).

Again, this shows the intimate connection between thinking and muscle activity. When somebody is slumping, the head and neck tends to move forward, hence in the Alexander technique an idea that is often used is thinking 'the back back'. Thinking 'into the retinas' could may well have similar general effect and thus naturally influence the lower back.

Disregarding the Alexander Technique principle of mind-body unity Grunwald went on to 'discover' numerous connections ending up with a whole body pattern. Each part of the body corresponding with a part of the visual system:
“If we see it from the perspective of the body, the head and neck correspond with the eyelids and conjunctiva, the torso with the eyeball, the hands and arms with the sclera and outer sheath of the optic nerves, the upper and lower legs with the optic nerves, and the feet with the visual cortex” (ibid, 34-35).
You can find a map of the Eyebody Patterns at the end of this article in danish: EyeBody (3)

By practicing the Alexander Technique one realises, or should realise, that there is a limit to what one can feel. Sensing the optic nerves is definitely beyond those limits, not to speak of sensing the difference between the sheath of the optic nerves and the optic nerves themselves.

How we interpret sensory information is in addition strongly influenced by our habits. In the Alexander Technique there is even a name for it: faulty sensory appreciation. Naturally, Grunwald had hesitated earlier on:
“Doubts arose, and I wondered if I had gone astray from my Alexander work by fishing in water too deep to see the bottom,” (Grunwald 1999b, p. 26).

But, unfortunately, having come this far, he carried on and found additional patterns – each part of the eye corresponding with different structures of the brain:
“Here is an outline of the connections between the various parts of the brain (reptilian, limbic and neocortex) and the eyes: the thalamus relates to the interior parts of the eye; the limbic brain relates to the anterior part of the eye; the upper part of the neocortex (upper visual cortex) relates to the auxiliary parts of he eye” (Grunwald 2004 p. 37).

Is it possible to discern ones thalamus from ones limbic system? Or actually feel those structures or those structures working? Very unlikely. There are no proprioceptors in the brain. It is in fact possible to perform brain surgery on patients who are wide awake, using only local anesthesia to get through the scalp

The Primary Coordinating Mechanism
In The Eyebody Method, special importance is attributed to 'the upper visual cortex' (which is the upper part of the visual cortex and must not be confused with the primary visual cortex) (4):
“... there is a primary coordinating mechanism situated in the upper visual cortex [...] 

It integrates the visual pathway through the neocortex, limbic system and reptilian brain and coordinates the whole. This coordination includes, among other things, the thalamus and hypothalamus, which in turn coordinate our senses, heartbeat, breathing, hormonal balance and many other involuntary processes, and allows for the optimal functioning of the whole system” (ibid, 50).

The concept of a primary coordinating mechanism is clearly inspired by the Alexander Technique's 'Primary Control' which normally is referred to as the dynamic relationship between head, neck and back. (5) There is seemingly no end to the benefits this primary coordinating mechanism can offer:
“This primary coordinating mechanism integrates and enlivens the operation of the neocortex for clearer abstract thinking, decision making and visualizing; integrates the limbic system, giving an effect of emotional lightness and freedom; and affects the reptilian brain with its thalamus and hypothalamus, improving physical coordination, ease of movement and functioning – and the eyes follow as well” (ibid, 51).

You may not even be aware that the 'primary coordinating mechanism' in your 'upper visual cortex' is not functioning properly, but it could be the cause of all your problems (6):

“If the visual pathways in their entirety are not being stimulated properly (or not at all) [from the 'upper visual cortex'] my overall functioning will be impaired whether I am aware of it or not, resulting in poor eyesight, pain, inability to think clearly, disconnection from self or others, and other maladies, general or specific” (ibid, 51).

Higher functions of the brain tend to be the outcome of concerted activity of multiple brain centres. The idea that one part of the visual cortex functions as a coordinating mechanism for “the whole person” seems outdated, reductionistic and very unlikely. The brain is a complex system and it is not likely that the subsystems of for instance heartbeat and breathing are dependent upon another subsystem like the visual system for optimal functioning. It would have been very impractical.
Another reason for disbelieving Grunwald is that the reason we have a brain is that we move. If there actually is a coordinating mechanism it is much more likely related to the organisation of movement than to the visual system. The visual system can't organise movement because it is too busy processing visual information,

Conscious Depth Perception 
The primary coordinating mechanism is activated by conscious thought: 
“Mental direction is how this work works” (ibid, 56).

“Direction” is a term borrowed from the Alexander Technique.(7) Grunwald has developed his own 'visual directions':

“An example of these visual directions [...] would be first to mentally engage with the peripheral space within your retina (panoramic vision) then to include the choroid layer surrounding the retina, with the intention of your vitreous humour [the main content of the eyeball] making contact with the expanding retina” (ibid, 57).

In some way this is similar to instructions sometimes suggested by Alexander Technique teachers of being aware of the periphery of the visual field and thinking about letting the eyes 'widen'. This can have a calming effect.

Grunwald thinks he knows why: “Appropriate visual directions set the eyes, optic nerves and brainstem free and allow information to flow freely within the entire visual system” (ibid 56).

As we shall see later Grunwald believes that brain activity (or lack thereof) somehow can create mechanical forces that influences the structures of the brain. (8)

'Panoramic vision' is the first form of direction a person learns to use. The ultimate form of visual direction is 'conscious depth perception':
“Conscious depth perception is a mental direction (akin to panoramic vision), which creates coordination and integration of all regions of the brain. Through this mechanism a dynamic balance is achieved within the entire system that results in clarity of sight and thinking alike” (ibid, 37).

“Conscious depth perception activates new brain pathways. This in turn creates a new freedom towards the front. The neocortex is then able to lighten up off the reptilian brain, allowing the entire brainstem to be less contracted, [...] At the same time subtle pressure can be released from the eyes so that they can function more effectively” (ibid, 52).

“Conscious depth perception is an internal thinking/visualizing process by which I visualize from the upper visual cortex panoramic space within the depth of the retinas [...], then bring attentiveness from the lower visual cortex to beneath the surface of an object.(9) Conscious depth perception happens within the upper quadrant of the visual cortex” (ibid, 51).

It seems as if Grunwald believes that by thinking of a specific part of the brain this part of the brain is somehow activated. If I could activate for instance the brain area that governs my hand movements just by thinking about this area, how could I know what was a useful and not harmful way of activating it? Too much activation would mean epileptic seizure. It would be analogous to hitting a piano keyboard with the fist. It wouldn't sound like Mozart. If I think about moving my hand, the corresponding brain area is activated, but, thankfully, it does probably not work the other way round. (10)

When we see, or visualise, parts of the visual cortex will of course be active, but how does Peter Grunwald know that he has activated the 'primary coordinating mechanism' in the 'upper visual cortex'? Well, he believes that he, and others, can feel it:
“During my workshops I ask participants to place their hands on the back of my skull to illustrate from the outside what can happen when this primary coordinating mechanism is activated. When I use my conscious depth perception the person with his or her hands on my head usually says something like, “I can feel your skull moving slightly”, “You brain here seems to have more activity”, “The bones are moving” or “It feels everything is expanding further back and your whole head is more balanced on top of your spine” (ibid, 51-52).

Is it possible to register brain activity from outside, without EEG or advanced scanning equipment? Not very likely. Can the bones of the skull move just because of brain activity beneath? I dearly hope not! (11)

Contracted or overextended
According to the Eyebody Method the 'upper visual cortex' can be either contracted or overextended. This relates to two different personality types:
“Major differences in the upper visual cortex- whether it is overextended or contracted - appear to underlie two parallel distinctive types. We seem to be born with either one of these predominant patterns within our upper visual cortex” (ibid, 39).

“To simplify and put things in a practical context, the overextended visual cortex underlies hypermetropia [...], and the contracted upper visual cortex underlies myopia [...]” (ibid, 39).

The majority of people, between 80 and 90 percent, belongs to the contracted category.
Here is how Peter Grunwald describes the contracted visual type:
“From an Eyebody perspective, the upper visual cortex qualitatively spirals forwards and down, affecting the auxiliary area of the eye. The limbic brain is then caused to press forward, thus contracting the frontal areas of the eye and changing its shape. As a result of this frontal contraction the pupil, retina, choroid and vitreous humour will also tighten, resulting in non-stimulation of the thalamus, as information from the peripheral photoreceptors of the retina are not receiving enough light. This lack of stimulation will narrow the thalamus, moving it backwards and down. The resulting tightening of the optic nerves will pull the eyeball back into an elongating shape. This means the retina cannot carry out its panoramic functions and the fovea centralis will be overworking. With the thalamus not getting enough stimuli, there is a resulting shortening of the brainstem that brings about a slumping in the body. This is the pattern of myopia” (ibid, 42).

How can Grunwald know that the thalamus is narrowing or the brainstem shortening? He can't. He must be making things up. If most people slump it is not because of the shape of their brains. There are simpler and more plausible explanations.

The contracted type can also have certain other physical dysfunctions:
“The contracted character type's body posture is often stooped with the head and brainstem tilting back and downward. The lower back, pelvis and upper legs to the knees are especially affected. The body may show signs of overstrain in the liver, spleen and kidneys, difficulty in respiration and digestion, sometime headaches or migraines and there may be reproductive dysfunctions later in life. [...] Other dysfunctions originating from the contracted upper visual cortex type are cataracts, glaucoma, astigmatism, floaters and more” (ibid, 42).

Your 'upper visual cortex type' also relates to mental and emotional characteristics. Grunwald writes about the contracted type that:
“Mentally, this character type is associated with frontal lobe thinking, over-focusing on detail and generally a lack of overall vision or larger perspective. [...] has a detailed mind, accurate at times, but woozy at others. [...] a tendency to narrowly focus in life, to see the small picture, [...] the tendency is to mind-wander, to dwell on old memories and get stuck there. This detracts from the ability to be in the moment. [...] In contracted types the limbic system, where we store old memories, needs the weight lifted off it. [...] Emotionally, the underlying pattern relates to fear, anxiety, frustration, lack of self-esteem and a narrowing uptightness. The general disposition is friendly” (12) (ibid, 41-42).

This is how Grunwald describes the overextended type:
“From and Eyebody Pattern perspective, the overextended pattern leads to an over-widened visual pathway throughout the neocortex, limbic system and reptilian brain which leads to an over-widening of the eye. In particular, the parts of the front of the eye – the pupil, iris, aqueous humour fluid, canal of Schlemm, cornea and the eyelids – are overly wide.
Physically, this manifests as tension held within the bone structure of the skull, the neck and shoulder areas, the breathing and especially the heart” (ibid, 40).

And here are some of the mental and emotional characteristics of the overextended type:
“People with this pattern see everything rather big – often bigger than life. [...] They stand out, they are different. In a world of predominantly contracted upper visual cortexes they somehow don't fit in. [...] Many people with this pattern report a tendency to 'woosh out' – that is to disconnect from the self and environment. [...]
Their visual cortex works in such a way that it is over-widened. Pressure results from the over-widening [...] which directly affects the lens and the entire front area of the eye. This can lead to frustration and a short temper, [...] Grandiosity and ambition are also characteristic. This again can cause loads of frustration, [...]
Because of the over-widening, the close-up world becomes threatening and letting people in can be a challenge. [...] Their emotional boundaries are very strong, even rigid, [...] overextended types are brilliant organizers. Along with this comes a sense of vigilance. There may be a hyper-awareness of sounds, [...]” (ibid, 39-40).

In addition to contracted and overextended, a third type is possible:
“A combination of contraction and overextension is possible if you are short-sighted in one eye and long-sighted in the other. This often leads to headaches, tremendous physical tension, and fatigue as both sides of the visual pathway, body and brain, are functioning in opposing manners” (ibid, 43).

The reason for giving so much space to the description of the contracted/overextended types is that this idea plays an important role in the Eyebody Method:
“The existence of these fundamental upper visual cortex types is the first principle of this work and the rest are built upon that” (ibid, 43). (13)

Another reason is that this illustrates very well that the Eyebody Method is about much more than improving eyesight. It is more like a form of psychotherapy.

Vision leads
The subtitle of the book Eyebody, “The art of integrating eyes, body and brain – and letting go of glasses forever”, can be misleading. The average reader will interpret this as a promise of improved eyesight. According to Grunwald, seeing is not the primary function of the visual system:
“The primary function is the coordination of our physical, emotional and mental states. [...] It needs to be working well so we can breathe, digest our food, move around, make appropriate decisions or sleep at night – optimally” [...] Clear sight is a secondary function of the visual system”(14) (ibid, 38).

The Eyebody-method is about vision, and the word vision has multiple meanings:
“I like to define vision holistically as the interaction of the coordinated visual system (which, of course includes the whole person in depth) with the environment, including the goal, the new organization, and the desired outcomes, such as reading and understanding the book in my hands right now, or whatever my desire might be” (ibid, 52).

“[...] vision leads and eyes, body, and environment follow. The upper visual cortex leads by means of conscious depth perception and the rest of the brain, eyes, and body follow when we make contact in depth with the surrounding environment”(15) (ibid, 52).

A quote popular among Alexander Technique teachers is: “The head leads and the body follows.”(16) Since we often go in the direction we look, one could say that the eyes are leading the head. On another level, our intention or plan of action is leading. Peter Grunwald is in line with the Alexander Technique on this point. But as always he takes it a few steps further.

“[...] accessing the upper visual cortex and applying conscious depth perception while making contact with the environment, creates fundamental change in the different layers of the brain, resulting in psycho-physical integration” (ibid, 49).

This process can according to Grunwald create a feeling of safety and well-being:
“New pathways(17) can be created within the brain so that we can harmonize the primary functions, thus enabling us to perform the secondary functions effortlessly. The whole body, including the brain, then has the ability to work to its full potential. Our emotional and spiritual self will be affected by this new coordination as well, with an increased feeling of safety, satisfaction and overall well-being” (ibid, 38).

Without it you are not really happy:
“Without vision generated within the upper visual cortex leading, the body and emotions do their thing without clear guidance. This is surviving rather than thriving” (ibid, 53).

Or it could be that you are engaging in the wrong kind of vision or visualising:
“Visualizing from the frontal area of the neocortex does not have the same powerful effects; in fact it creates two-dimensional outcomes” (ibid).
Unfortunately for Grunwald his 'holistic' definition of vision includes planning ahead, which is a task assigned to the frontal lobes.

“This sort of visualisation has not activated the pathways of the visual system – overall coordination is lacking and therefore excludes the limbic system for memory and emotional balance and the reptilian brain for coordinating our physicality with our intention”. [...] If I habitually bypass my visual pathway I will be without the primary coordinating mechanism, lacking the appropriate vision necessary to guide me efficiently through life. As I see it, this is one reason so many of us experience pain and discomfort in our lives, physically, mentally and emotionally” (ibid). 

Is it possible to visualise without activating the visual cortex? Probably not. Is it possible to exclude the limbic system? Not very likely, unless you have a brain damage. (18) Peter Grunwald is serving a constant stream of meaningless pseudoscientific psychobabble.

What the Eyebody Method is, and probably can do, is to induce a feeling of harmony and well-being by engaging the mind constructively through being aware of the eyes and visual field and/or by visualizing.(19)  The theoretical framework on which it is founded is complete bunk.

My vision
Vision is important in our lives, on all levels. We think in images (but not necessarily visual images), we see in our minds eye, we daydream, we remember things from the past, we imagine the future. 
It is easy to agree with Grunwald when he writes: “The decisions we in modern society are making in many arenas are generally short-sighted – an overall vision is lacking” (ibid, 53). 
It is important to have a vision. My vision is that Alexander Technique teachers all over the world abolish pseudoscience, of which Peter Grunwald is such an avid proponent.

In the next part of the article I'm writing about some of the things Grunwald says about the function of the eyes, and about the health claims of the Eyebody Method.

Please feel free to comment below!

1) My main source of information has been the first edition of Peter Grunwald's book Eyebody from 2004. An updated version was published in 2007 but I have reasons to believe that Grunwald's theories have been extended but not modified.

2) The writer Aldous Huxley, a pupil of Alexander and staunch supporter of the Alexander Technique claimed to have been helped by Bates. This may be the reason that so many Alexander teacher seem to believe in the method. Alexander was by the way very much against the Bates method. (See for instance F.M The Life of Frederick Matthias Alexander by Michael Bloch, page 189).

3) The Eyebody book has got a fold out map at the back. More details about the eye-body connections are listed on pages 34-35 and 85-89. You can find an earlier and simpler version of the map in Direction Journal volume 2, number 7, Vision issue (1999), page 24.

4) The Primary visual cortex seems to correspond more or less with what Peter Grunwald labels 'the lower visual cortex'.

5) There exist no common definition of the Primary Control. Alexander himself varied in his descriptions. I suggest that the Primary Control is regarded as an attractor in a dynamic system. In an earlier blogpost, Mirakelmekanismen (sorry, Norwegian only), I discuss the history and nature of the Primary Control.
Early on in the development of the Eyebody Method there seems to have been a link between 'the upper visual cortex' and 'the primary control' which is not mentioned in the Eyebody book: "One of the functions of the visual cortex is depth perception. Actively perceiving depth initiates the release of the sub-occipital muscles, hence releasing the skull to move forward and up with ease" (Grunwald 1999a). See also quote from Grunwald (1999b) in note 9.

6) This is parallel to when Alexander Technique teachers claim that a stiff neck, interfering with the 'Primary Control', is the root to all evil. It signifies a lack of understanding of how the 'Primary Control' functions.

7) Alexander Technique 'directions' are mental messages that are primarily preventive, but are often phrased positively, the classic version being: let the neck be free, let the head go forward and up, let the back lengthen and widen. The whole body, even the eyes can be included in the directions, but the working mechanism is always signals from brain to muscle. The term 'direction' can also be used in a wider context about the organisation of awareness.

8) This reminds one of the 'subluxations' of the infamous David D Palmer.

9) An earlier definition of 'depth perception is found in Direction Journal vol 2, number 7 page 26:
“Through my experiments I recognised that the function of the Primary Control mechanism is stimulated naturally and primarily through depth perception, which includes imagining what lies inside and behind the object I look at. As soon as we regard our environment with this thought the head release on top of the spine, allowing the sub-occipital muscles to lengthen so that the head moves forward and up” (Grunwald (1999b).
Alexander Technique directions of 'lengthening and widening' can be expanded to include the surroundings. For instance, awareness of the space between you and an object you are handling or watching may help you stay 'neutral' and prevent unnecessary tensions. Awareness of surrounding space can also increase your sense of self and aid you staying in the present.  The 'depth perception' of the Eyebody Method may have similar effect.
Frank Pierce Jones writes in “Freedom to Change” about “the expanded field of consciousness”: “... you can take in both your eyes and the object you are looking at;” (Freedom to Change page 192). Peter Grunwalds eyebody-directions are not entirely original.

10) He is not the only Alexander Technique teacher to believe this. Missy Vineyard in her otherwise excellent book “How We Stand, How We Move, How We Live” proposes that you can activate the inhibitory processes of your frontal lobes by thinking 'up in the attic'.

11) Galen Cranz, an Alexander Technique teacher and professor of architecture, has written the preface to Eyebody. She expresses similar ideas in this interview with Robert Rickover: What is the head of the head forward and up.
The idea that the bones of the skull can easily move comes from Craniosacral therapy, the homeopathy of bodywork. I discuss the above interview in this blogpost: Kraniosakral terapi (sorry, Norwegian only).

12) You can also find a description of the contracted/overextended types on pages 156-157 in the article “Integrating Eyes, Brain and Body” in the Congress Papers from the International Congress of the F.M. Alexander Technique in Oxford 2004 (Grunwald 2005).
The description of the contracted or overextended personality types give strong associations to the theory of phrenology. In this case the shape of the brain itself determining personality traits.

13) The list of principles in the Eyebody book is 1. Upper visual types, 2. Eyebody Patterns, 3. Primary coordinating mechanism, and 4. Vision leads. (See Grunwald 2004, p. 44). For the sake of clarity I have organised the content of my article differently.

14) “What about the poor blind people?”, you might wonder. I assume Grunwald thinks that visualizing, on one level or another, works just as well for them. Seeing, it turns out, is not that important.

15) “Vision leading means that my internal coordination and my external environment are continuous – as I harmonize my internal vision it is incorporated into my surroundings” (Grunwald 2004, p. 53). It can seem as if Grunwald means this quite literally. On page 99 he writes: “Unfortunately some martial arts practitioners wear glasses or contact lenses; these act as lids to the vital energies radiating through the visual system and into the environment.” A whiff of vitalism and an indication of pseudoscience.

16) The quote is from a lecture in 1926 by Rudolf Magnus, a German scientist who investigated the role of head-neck reflexes in mammals: “The mechanism as a whole acts in such a way that the head leads and the body follows. The attitudes impressed upon the body by a certain head position in the decerebrate preparation closely resemble the natural attitudes shown by the intact animal during ordinary life.” Some Results of Studies in the Physiology of Posture. A decerebrate preparation is an animal that has had its cerebral cortex surgically disconnected from the rest of its nervous system. In healthy animals, and humans, the head's leading influence is not that clear. 

17) “New pathways” is one of Grunwalds favourite phrases. It is suited to impress the ignorant, but it doesn't mean a thing because all kinds of learning involves changes in the brain.

18) 'Excluding the limbic system' – There is case story in Descarte's Error by Damasio about a man by the name of Elliot who had damage to his orbitofrontal cortex. He was able to think logically, but had big problems making decisions because he had lost touch with his emotions.

19) In part 3 I suggest a reason for why the Eyebody directions may have such an effect.

Literature and resources:
Grunwald, Peter (1999). Eyesight and the Alexander Technique. Statnews Vol. 5 Issue 3.
Grunwald, Peter (1999). The Eye-body Reflex Patterns. Direction Journal, vol 2, number 7, Vision issue.
Grunwald, Peter (2004). Eyebody, The Art of Integrating Eye, Brain and Body – and letting go of glasses forever. Eyebody Press, New Zealand.
Grunwald, Peter. (2005) Integrating Eyes, Brain and Body. The Congress Papers, 7th International Congress of the F.M. Alexander Technique. Stat Books.
Løgstrup, Mette. (2008) Eyebody. Article in the magazine Nyt aspekt og Guiden september-oktober 2008.

10 kommentarer:

  1. Dear Halvard Heggdal,

    "The theoretical framework on which it is founded is complete bunk."
    Question: Have you, besides reading a book, practiced this work? Have you commited yourself to a process of working with these principles? If you did so, I would say you are entitled to call it whatever you want to call it. If not, I would say, you are talking about things you can not know.
    Would´t this be the common alexander-approach, knowing, that the theory of a psycho-physical-method can hardly be described in words, and can only be proofed by a practical approach and the commitment, to engage in working with those principles? You should know that.
    To me, this way of theorizing about a method, based on a book and some articles is a deeply unprofessional approach of somebody, who is a teacher of Alexander´s Technique, as Alexander himself had to struggle with the narrowness of putting complex contents into words, when he knew, that the only way to make a steady statement is through making a hands-on experience.

    Christina Hirt

    1. Hi Christina,

      I’m afraid that your post does not really address the issue at all.

      I teach the Alexander Technique. As your post suggests, I view it primarily as a practical method in which I’m very reliant upon the pupil putting into practice what they have been taught.

      However, if I tell my pupil that their bones are made out of rubber, and they will lengthen by means of fairy dust, then there is something very wrong with my theoretical underpinning. It is no use me whining about the efficacy of my teaching from a practical perspective.

      As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I have a responsibility to ensure that my teaching conforms with what anatomy, physiology, and neuroscience are telling us. In an analogous way, Halvard is pointing out that Grunwald shares this responsibility but is currently failing to meet these standards.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Tony Foxton

  2. Hi Christina,
    Thank you for your comment.
    What is unprofessional is not to have a debate about these ideas. In this first part of the article I only deal with the theoretical framework. The Eyebody method is based on a few simple principles that is easily understood from the book. I critisise on the basis of the facts. If you find I get the facts wrong I would appreciate if you tell me.


  3. Your work is very much appreciated Halvard. I think Mr. Foxton response to Ms Hirt was spot on. Unless the basics of science and reason are appreciated by AT professionals they will be vulnerable to irrational claims. Ms Hirts lack of critical reasoning skills, evidenced by her promotion of a study of N=1 against established neuroanatomy is a good example. I despair in thinking that the AT will never achieve the prominence it deserves when most AT professionals are uneducated and disintersted in the vocabulary of modern medicine and science.

  4. Halvard, here's some of the words you use to describe Peter Grunwald and the Eyebody method.

    Snake oil,a quack,He is just making things up,pseudoscience.

    No doubt you want to write an informative article. However, when you put words like that in your article, it turns into a personal attack.

    I agree with Christina, this is unprofessional


    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for commenting.
      You raise a very important issue. I use a fairly moderate language in most of the article, (as I understand English, I could be mistaken). I say things like 'unlikely' or 'probably not' when commenting on something that is actually quite extraordinarily improbable.

      When concluding, however, I wanted to be very clear. I spent quite some time thinking about whether to use those words or not. But in the end I couldn't find any that gave a more appropriate description.

      I did not conclude that Grunwald is a quack. I was only expressing the impression I got from studying the book in detail. I don't think he is a quack by intention anyway. I believe he is an honest person.


  5. Hi Halvard,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    "I believe he is an honest person."
    It might be helpful to include this in the body of your article. There's a difference between an honest person who make mistakes and someone who deliberately misleads in order to gain some end or other. It might be helpful to include this in the body of your text.

    When it comes to the words I listed, leaving them out would not alter the general sense of the articles. Perhaps less is more?


    1. Hello Kevin,
      I have now
      - changed 'He is just making things up' to 'He must be making things up'.
      (He must be, because no human being can know what he claims to know)
      - changed the heading 'The Pseudoscientist' in part 2 to 'The Pseudoscience'
      to avoid personal characterisation
      - added a short paragraph after 'snake oil' in part 2 to point out that this is a problem not only concerning the Eyebody Method.
      - rewritten the paragraph where I wondered if Grunwald is a quack in part 2.

      I hope that by moderating the language the readers may take more notice of the content.


  6. Halvard,
    I think that your language has been acceptable because you back it up with a considerable number of examples that could suggest tough language.

    A person should be able to show even utter annoyance OR grand enthusiasm on any subject that is being analyzed... as long as they provide information that supports their emotion.

  7. I did two terms training to be an Alexander Technique Teacher, but quit after attending an Eyebody retreat. I agree with most of your comments Halvard, thank you for writing them. I will say more at the end of part 3.