Self-Help Advice Books Man's Supreme Inheritance Part 1

About the self-help book Man's Supreme Inheritance by FM Alexander, history and advice from the book.



The Head Man: Around the turn of the century, an Australian actor named Frederick Matthias Alexander, who made his living by reciting Shakespeare, among other things, in a one-man stage show, began to be plagued with periodic loss of voice. Since his doctors' advice proved to work only partially, he decided to cure himself. Thinking that his problem must obviously have something to do with his vocal cords, he set up a complicated arrangement of mirrors and observed himself while he was speaking. He saw that a misalignment of the neck, spinal cord, and shoulders was producing tension and causing his problem. Through a series of exercises involving kinesthetic control, he cured himself and thus ended his career as an actor, for he decided to spend the rest of his life bringing the method he had devised to other people who had similar ailments.

His brother, A. R. Alexander, who had run away from school to take part in the western Australian gold rush, joined him, and in a few years the two brothers moved to London, where they taught the Alexander Method, mainly to actors at first. In the 1920s and 1930s, the method became the rage with English and American intellectuals, among them Aldous Huxley (who used F. Matthias as the model for the anthropologist Miller in Eyeless in Gaza), educator John Dewey, George Bernard Shaw (who at the age of 80 took the full course of 40 lessons), anthropologist Raymond Dart, and ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen (who included praise for the method in his speech accepting the Nobel Prize in 1973). Adherents claim the method improves physical health, gives a feeling of general well-being, and enriches their lives.

The formal qualifications of the brothers were slight. They knew the anatomy of horses (both were horse-racing enthusiasts) and had done some reading about physiology, but they were deeply distrustful of the scientific establishment. The Alexanders are dead now, but their method lives on.

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