An interesting lecture from Moshe Feldenkrais showing not only his thinking but also the times that he “slipped” and got away from his own work. Bolded font was added to several sentences by me.
San Francisco Training, August 15, 1977.
“I watched what you are doing now, and I wondered what is the difference between what you are doing now and physical therapy. Why do we have to call it Fl [Functional Integration]? Why not call it physical therapy? When I look at you, I can see that in most of your attitudes … and some of the people believe that it is …. These people reduce what they learn to physical therapy.
Why do I say reduce? What is the difference?
Now you know because I have said it a million times. I am attempting to put in another way again because I can see in spite of all my other explanations that some of you do not understand. I have tried to explain before why it is not a separate thing, and not a polarity treatment, a shiatsu, katsu, matsu treatment. What is the difference? The fact is that for many of you there isn’t a bloody difference. That is what annoys me. That is what I want to talk about.
Many of you reduce Fl to just ordinary physical therapy, which I believe is a very primitive sort of thing. It is not that it isn’t a useful sort of thing. However, physical therapy is only the first very primitive approach to ailment and improvement of function.
Anyone, who stayed with me one day, finds that they get clients whom doctors wanted to cut off elbows or whom physical therapists forced joints. We have lots of darnned things like that. We have a woman who have been seven months under traction and has had morphine injections. She had a back which no one tells can be nicer than that…, that can be put in the grave … How would she be … and she is after only a few Fl lesson … There is now more improvement than all seven months of traction.
How come I feel peeved that many of you reduce the teaching to physical therapy? What is the difference?
You can not maintain the difference unless you clearly know the difference. You touch someone, and muck about the body, and massage his muscles, twiddle his ass, and make his circulation better, and do a little bit of meditation, and give him a little bit of autosuggestion, and improve his breathing a little bit. What is the difference? Many of you do that are so unclear about Fl that you will do it with a little bit of Tai Chi, a little bit of Biofeedback, a little bit of psychology. Those people think it is all the same thing. What is the difference. For me, the difference is so great that, after three years of repetitions, I can not understand how intelligent people can not perceive the difference.
Maybe, I am cruel and final like that. Many of you perceive the difference for a few seconds, and then slip from it, as if it is too hard to maintain. Many of you slip away from it. Is there anyone here who can give me a good definition of the difference between Fl and physical therapy? I am not asking Mia, Gaby, or Yochanan. By the way, they may fail the test, also because I, myself, have been slipping between the two for years. This is why I haven’t written any books directly upon the subject. As of yet, there isn’t any book written directly about FI.
For the first few years, I would do something with someone, and it would work marvelously like a miracle. It was like almost every treatment I do now. There is a sense that it worked beautifully. Then, I would do the same thing to the same person the next day. It just did not work. Slowly, one day, it dawned on me, that I did not distinguish between physical therapy and Fl. Somehow, I slipped as if it was a pinnacle which I could not maintain. I could not maintain myself there, without a strictness of a clear pure idea. Every time I was a little tired or I had something where my ambition was in the way … where I was in a situation where I thought I would cure this in no time…. At those times, I would resort to physical therapy, and it would work. What is the difference?
Do you have a clear difference of the two? For you, it must be more difficult than for anyone else. You do body work before, while , and after. I will give you the time to think clearly.
I want to say one thing. You will not improve the status of FI if you say that Rolfing isn’t any good. You don’t need to say that this one is not good, or it is mechanical, or it is idiotic. That type of statement will not give any difference. The other day, you saw a little boy who could not speak. You saw how I set about working with him. How was it that a little boy of seven years who has speech difficulty … his father and mother bring him here. What was it I discovered in that half hour which anyone else would need a week or a month to discover? Plus, that person would need a physiologist, and a speech therapist. Each one must write a report with another person, putting it in the computer in order to make sense Out of it. Yet, the treatment was in a half hour. What was the difference?
Yes, all right. However, why is it called Functional Integration and not physical therapy?
[answer from student not picked up by the microphone]
Oh, don’t physical therapists deal with the function of the body when someone comes with the an aching arm or a leg operation? Doesn’t the person do something which has … whether he says it or not … the physical therapist deals with the different levels of the muscles, the bone, and the person. So, don’t hurry. We have all ready.
See, I am not examining you. I am trying to get clarity. I am trying to show you that you are doing something which is not physical therapy or Rolfing, or biofeedback, etc. You are doing something which contains all these things. Therefore, whatever you say which degrades the others, also degrades your own FI.”
The San Francisco Training transcript can be purchased through the International Feldenkrais Federation. Though they do have restrictive rules on who can do so.