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Grahame Fagg
Posture, poise and positive health
Paperback. 204 pages. 2006.
Published by Capella Archive (UK). 210 x 140 mm.
ISBN 1902918304.
Status: In print.
First published 20 March 2006
Fascinating as a case-history in how people may work on themselves without the help of a teacher.
Mouritz description
Dr Fagg was a paediatrician who worked with Charles Neil (a teacher of the Technique who taught an off-shot of the Technique) in the 1950s. After Neil’s death Dr Fagg continued to work on himself and left this unfinished book at his death in 2003. He introduces the most basic concepts of the Technique without using the usual vocabulary of the Technique (and without acknowledging the existence any other literature or any teaching society). A large part of the book is dedicated to the interesting and curious descriptions of his own experiements and discoveries about movement and use. His particular interest is the intimite link between emotions and our body’s habit patterns. Fascinating as a case-history in how people may work on themselves without the help of a teacher.
Review by Yvette Daoust
First published in STATNews, vol. 6, no. 20, October 2006.

Dr. Grahame Fagg was for 25 years a consultant paediatrician based in Luton. Motivated by his own back pain as well as by his concern to help his patients, he became fascinated by the link between posture and health. He had a few sessions with Charles Neil, who taught his own version of F.M. Alexander’s technique. This book, written in retirement, is an account of his discoveries as he worked on himself and thought more deeply about his experience as a doctor. He died in 2002, before putting the finishing touches to the book. It has been published posthumously by his wife.

Dedicated to helping his young patients, Dr. Fagg looked beyond conventional medicine, hoping for example that Neil’s work could help asthmatic children.Indeed one of the most interesting passages is his account of teaching asthmatic patients, when they began a mild attack, to inhibit the urge to struggle immediately for the next breath and thus to mitigate or prevent the attack.

He records ideas familiar or at least unsurprising to most Alexander teachers, but often restated here in fresh terms. He states early in the book, no doubt from his experience of seeing children alter from their first state of free and easy movement, that "posture, moulded by muscle, may gradually change the bony structure."He works out in practice how to '"think long" in all one’s activities, and to "allow the face to soften in the direction of a smile".He writes of postures which express "fossilised emotions". Thinking of sensation as awareness of change, he comes to the conclusion that when we stand up, there is an "oscillation around the central point of balance in each and every free joint. We are 'falling over' and 'catching ourselves' at every mobile weight-bearing joint. We are 'vibrating' from top to toe", so that "our sensation of being poised is a sensation of change at all these points."Considering that he was working on himself without the help of a teacher, these insights are a credit to Dr. Fagg’s openness, intelligence and perseverance.

There are a number of suggestions and attitudes which run counter to the technique, a search for "correct positions", for example, some of the exercises described, and an over-elaborate approach to breathing.At many points I felt a series of ordinary Alexander lessons would have saved Dr. Fagg time and effort, for the core of Alexander’s technique has an elegant simplicity: only inhibit, only direct, and the right thing does itself.

Reading Posture, Poise and Positive Health is like getting to know an interested Alexander pupil with bags of ideas and professional contributions to offer;you might not agree, but the discussion is always engaging and lively.

© 2006 Yvette Daoust

Yvette Daoust (www.techniquealexander.co.uk) This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.

Earliest publication date: 20 March 2006