primary control

The direction of the head and neck being of primary importance, he found, as I found, that if we get the right direction from this primary control, the control of the rest of the organism is a simple matter.

Lecture: "An Unrecognized Principle" (1925) in Articles and Lectures (Mouritz, 1995), page 148

The importance of this discovery cannot be overestimated, for through it I was led on to the further discovery of the primary control of the working of all the mechanisms of the human organism, and this marked the first important stage of my investigation.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) page 11

. . . in short, that to lengthen I must put my head forward and up.
As is shown by what follows, this proved to be the primary control of my use in all my activities.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) page 14

Note that in the 1946 edition the above description of the primary control was changed to:

  . . . in short, that to lengthen I must put my head forward and up.

The experiences which followed my awareness of this were forerunners of a recognition of that relativity in the use of the head, neck, and other parts which proved to be a primary control of the general use of the self.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Chaterson 1946), p. 9.

Such direction, being as unreasoned as that of the animal, cannot be compared with that conscious reasoned direction which is associated with a primary control of the mechanisms of the self as a working unity.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) page 22-23 fn

Supposing that the "end" I decided to work for was to speak a certain sentence, I would start in the same way as before and

(1) inhibit any immediate response to the stimulus to speak the sentence,
(2) project in their sequence the directions for the primary control which I had reasoned out as being best for the purpose of bringing about the new and improved use of myself in speaking,

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) page 33

Another point of importance in relation to the control of human reaction is that it was through my discovery of the primary control that I was able to bring about the improvement in the sensory appreciation of the use of my mechanisms which was associated with the improvement in functioning throughout my organism.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) pages 39-40

 . . . the experiments which led to my discovering that there is a primary control of the use of the self, which governs the working of all the mechanisms and so renders the control of the complex human organism comparatively simple.
This primary control, called by the late Professor Magnus of Utrecht the "central control," depends upon a certain use of the head and neck in relation to the use of the rest of the body, and once the pupil has inhibited the instinctive misdirection leading to his faulty habitual use, the teacher must begin the process of building up the new use by giving the pupil the primary direction towards the establishment of this primary control.

The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) pages 59-60

I emphasized (1) that my work is solely concerned with the restoration and establishment of a trustworthy sensory appreciation of the use of the psycho-physical mechanisms, by means of a technique which depends upon the employment of a consciously directed primary control, . . .

Letter: "The Use of the Self-2" (1932) in Articles and Lectures (Mouritz, 1995), page 133

The primary control is there for anyone who cares to come along and use it.

"Bedford Physical Training College Lecture" (1934) in Articles and Lectures (Mouritz, 1995), page 164

All we have to do is to restore the use of the primary control, and the use of the arms or fingers will come right in the process.

"Bedford Physical Training College Lecture" (1934) in Articles and Lectures (Mouritz, 1995), page 170

This primary control is made up of the processes which control the use of the head and neck in relation to the body, and enables us to use ourselves in the right way.

"Bedford Physical Training College Lecture" (1934) in Articles and Lectures (Mouritz, 1995), page 179

I found that in practice this use of the parts, beginning with the use of the head in relation to the neck, constituted a primary control of the mechanisms as a whole, involving control in process right through the organism, and that when I interfered with the employment of the primary control of my manner of use, this was always associated with a lowering of the standard of my general functioning. This brought me to realize that I had found a way by which we can judge whether the influence of our manner of use is affecting our general functioning adversely or otherwise, the criterion being whether or not this manner of use is interfering with the correct* employment of the primary control.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 8

* When in my writings the terms "correct," "proper," "good" "bad," "satisfactory" are used in connection with such phrases as "the employment of the primary control" or "the manner of use," it must be understood that they indicate conditions of psycho-physical functioning which are the best for the working of the organism as a whole.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 8 fn

The full significance of this will be apparent to those of us who have had the experience of applying my technique consistently to the task of changing use by the indirect method of preventing interference with the manner of employment of the primary control, for this experience involves a practical demonstration that our manner of use is a constant influence for good or ill upon our general functioning.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 9

For many years I have demonstrated in my daily work with pupils that wrong employment of the primary control of use can be checked, and the evidence of my medical friends and supporters encourages me to believe that a fuller understanding of the nature of the working of the primary control, and of the influence of this upon the general working of the organism, will help us to understand more fully the nature of the interference with manner of use and standard of general functioning which is becoming an ever more determining factor in the growing incidence of defects and disease.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 15

When he became experienced in inhibiting the misdirection which led to the wrong employment of the primary control, and could maintain the resultant new manner of use when responding to any stimulus to activity in his daily life, . . .

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 22

  . . . consent to perform the act must be withheld, not given, in order that our habitual reaction may be held in check, and the usual messages to the motor nerve and muscle mechanisms which determine our manner of employing the primary control of our use in our habitual reaction not projected. This clears the way for us to project new messages which in time will be associated with new and unfamiliar use of the mechanisms in activity, thus bringing about a change in the employment of the primary control, and thereby indirectly a change in the manner of our habitual reaction.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 25

The pupil who, with the aid of his teacher, learns to employ these procedures as the means of gaining the end he desires, begins a process of change by starting with the inhibition of the misdirection of his habitual employment of the primary control associated with his harmful functioning.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 39

My concern is always to try to re-establish as a constant that employment of the primary control of use with its associated standard of functioning which is found present in people who are not in need of "cure," but are instead in what can be described as good health.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 40

. . . my daily experience proves to me that if specific effects are to be secured in accordance with scientific method and in such a way as to be lasting they must be gained not by direct but by indirect means* which involve a knowledge of the use of the primary control. Any one who employs the technique described in my books can demonstrate this for himself, for the technique is based on the indivisibility of individual human potentialities in activity, of which the primary control is the governor.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), pages 48-49

It can be demonstrated by means of my technique that interference with the working of the primary control of the psycho-physical machine can not only be prevented, but also be remedied in those in whom the working of this control has already been interfered with.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 50

The instinctive misdirection which led to interference with the employment of the primary control will be changed to a conscious guidance of the use of the self, associated with reliability of sensory appreciation.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 52

When a baby is born with a correct working of the primary control, the application of prevention will resolve itself into providing the means whereby this state of use and functioning could be maintained in living.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 61

Any interference with the right working of the primary control of the manner of use during our daily activities is certain to become exaggerated in learning to carry out new industrial work, or in practising physical or other exercises.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 62

The control that is meant by reconditioning in my sense is made possible by that employment of the primary control which - again as Dewey puts it - "conditions all other reactions, brings the conditioning factor under conscious direction, and enables the individual to take possession of his own potentialities. It converts the fact of conditioned reflexes from a principle of external enslavement into a means of vital freedom."*

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 74

This accomplished, the teacher will ask the pupil to give the new messages necessary to carrying out the new "means-whereby" required for bringing about that employment of the primary control of the use of himself which is fundamental in reconditioning reflexes. At the same time the teacher will with his hands give the pupil the actual sensory experience of this new employment of the primary control, . . . .

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 82

 . . . the pupil passes from the stage of preventing the repetition of the wrong employment of the primary control of the general use in such acts as sitting or standing to gaining those new experiences of use in which the proper relativity of the parts concerned is brought about.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 83

Up to this point it will be understood that all the pupil has been asked to do is to apply his principle to the circumstances of the lesson, but after some time the pupil can begin the inhibition of the wrong use of the primary control in all the simple and other acts of life, for this is largely a matter of that process of remembering which is involved in "thinking in activity" - a new way of living - and when once he has experienced the joy and satisfaction of this, it is difficult to believe that the old way could be reverted to.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 84

Primarily our concern must be to find out in what way we are interfering with the right employment of the primary control, and decide to prevent this interference by consciously refusing to project the messages which habitually bring it about. Only secondarily are we interested in the projection of the new messages which will in time lead us indirectly - that is, through a change in the employment of the primary control of our use - to the change we desire in our habitual reflex activity.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 86

. . . and to this end to employ a technique by means of which we can bring about that manner of the employment of the primary control which has an integrating influence upon the mechanisms of the organism.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 92

. . . - in other words, it means either refraining from, or giving consent to, sending the messages to the muscles to be employed in accordance with the subject's manner of employing them, this in turn being determined by his manner of employing the primary control.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 106

My experience as a teacher of the technique is derived from demonstrating daily to every one of my pupils that there is a primary control of the use of the mechanisms of the self, and that in taking full advantage of the influence for good in correctly employing this primary control we hold the key to the bringing about of the "normal working of the postural mechanisms" as a whole.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 109

It is only when the use of the mechanisms is misdirected, so that there is interference with the employment of the primary control, that the working of the complex mechanisms becomes complicated and gives rise to difficulties, . . .

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 110

. . . for the employment of the primary control in my technique is inseparable from the inhibitory procedures necessary to the reconditioning of the reflexes and to integration of the "total pattern" involving the same procedures in a unified process.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 116

These "means-whereby" are all-important, because upon them depends that employment of the primary control of the use of ourselves by means of which we learn to know how we do the thing we are doing.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 119

The reasoned procedures employed for this purpose are described in my books, together with a detailed account of the discovery that the primary procedure in activating the integrating and reconditioning process throughout the human organism (total pattern) was a certain employment of the primary control of the manner of use of the self.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 128

From this it follows that the inhibition of the "immediate response" . . . is primarily the inhibition of the habitual response to any activity which results in the wrong employment of the primary control.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 142

It can be demonstrated that the person who learns to use himself properly by relying upon the correct employment of the primary control of his use of himself will breathe to the best possible advantage in singing or speaking, as well as in all the other activities of life.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 144

. . . it will be seen that the principle upon which the "means-whereby" of change is based will be the same, whether the object be to gain new experiences in the development of potentialities or to prevent the development of some functional trouble by learning how not to interfere with that working of the primary control which restores a manner of use associated with a satisfactory standard of functioning.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 158

This is not surprising seeing that experts in games, as in arts and craftsmanship of all kinds, do not recognize the existence of a primary control of their use or that the manner of the employment of this control is indirectly responsible for the manner of working of all the other parts of the organism.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 161

The time has come for realizing that by means of a conscious employment of the primary control of use we can with confidence ensure the best possible manner of use of ourselves at all times and in all circumstances, and that by this indirect means our psycho-physical self can be energized and controlled to the best advantage, no matter what our activities may be.

The Universal Constant in Living (Mouritz, 2000), page 163

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