Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart II: Reich’s and Feldenkrais’s Preparation for Treatment

Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart II: Reich’s and Feldenkrais’s Preparation for Treatment

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The Whole Body

At the heart of Feldenkrais perspective is a focus on the entire human body. He attends to all of the functions and movements that we tend to take for granted. At the center of Feldenkrais’s systemic perspective, is one of the physical positions we assume that is often taken for granted: this is our Posture. Feldenkrais (1985, p. 53) firmly stakes his position regarding the importance of posture and corrects the limited (non-systematic) perspective that most of us take when thinking of posture:

It is here where Feldenkrais’s systemic perspective becomes fully visible:

Position describes the location and configuration of the various segments of the body. Posture describes the use of the entire self in achieving and maintaining this or that change of configuration and position. Posture is therefore describing action, and is a dynamic term. One can slouch, lower the head, and adopt the most awkward position in good posture and assume the same position in very bad posture. Posture relates to the use made of the entire neuromuscular function, or more generally, the cerebrosomatic whole; that is, the way the affect, the motivation, the direction, and the execution of the act is organized while it is performed. Posture must, therefore, be used to describe the way the idea of an act is projected and the way the different segments of the body are correlated to achieve a change or maintain a state. A cripple may have excellent posture, although the positions he assumes are all abnormal.

We see in Feldenkrais’ perspective a holistic portrait of the human body. All elements of the body work together to yield a firm structure (posture) which can be conducive to positive health or conductive to ill-heath. Furthermore, operating as a single, unified force and function, our body provides a tone that impacts profoundly on our sense of well-being. Much as Reich’s character armor is a fully integrated feature of the human personality in some people, so the posture (representing the full body functioning) is an important feature of the human presentation of self and mode of navigation in the world.

Feldenkrais’s posture (in its fullest systemic manifestation) provides us with a holistic sense of “well-being” much as Antonio Damasio’s (2005) somatic template provides us with an ongoing (and typically unconscious) sense of mood –and well-being. Neither the information provided by our posture nor by our somatic template is conscious; however, it has just a great impact (or perhaps greater) on the way we think, feel and act in the world.


For Feldenkrais, additional emphasis is placed on another physically based aspect of human experience that is rarely acknowledged. This aspect is: Touch.  Like Posture, Touch impacts on our basic sense of well-being—and strongly influences our interpersonal relationships.

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