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F. Matthias Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor, born in Tasmania, who later moved to London to develop the educational process that is today commonly called the Alexander Technique - a method of helping people learn to free habitual reactions of thinking, learned by improving one's own kinesthetic judgment of movement and effort.

Alexander Technique is often considered the "grandfather" of other psychological and somatic processes such as Gestalt Therapy[?], Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Hellerwork[?] & Neuro-linguistic Programming[?], etc. Alexander first innovated such concepts as an interconnected body/mind, behaviorism, verbal visualization, the hypnotheraputic style of avoiding reaction during speaking, and using modeling in teaching (guiding movement in contact with the student to show quality and direction.) His foundation concept of "Primary Control" is only now being scientifically studied.

Many books on the Alexander Technique now exist, one of the first being Freedom to Change[?] by Frank Pierce Jones[?].

F.M. Alexander himself was a Shakespearean orator, and had a problem of losing his voice onstage. Careful observation of himself with mirrors revealed that he habitually stiffened his body when about to recite or to a lesser extent before speaking. His technique was based on finding his way past his problems, which he decided were based on the way he used himself.

Many famous actors, writers and philosophers of the turn of the 19th century were his students. According to some, the technique was important in the career of educational philosopher John Dewey. The two men met around 1918 in New York City when Dewey had a series of lessons. Dewey felt that Alexander taught him how to stop and think before acting. His study of the Alexander Technique enabled him to hold a philosophical position calmly once he had taken it or to change it if new evidence appeared.

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