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Segal, H. (1990). Some Comments on the Alexander Technique. Psychoanal. Inq., 10(3):409-414.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 10(3):409-414

Some Comments on the Alexander Technique

Hanna Segal, M.D.

It is not easy for me to comment on Alexander's technique since I have no first-hand experience of that technique; nor have I ever had discussions with anyone using it. Such knowledge as I have comes from some reading and some contacts with patients who had been treated according to it. I have, however, had some experience of discussions with analysts using a variety of active techniques, and some of my disagreements are with active techniques, usually derived from Ferenczi, in general.

I am in agreement with some of Alexander's criticism of the classical technique. I certainly agree with him that an analyst is not a neutral mirror onto which the patient in phantasy transfers his past objects, and I agree with him that such a neutral attitude is not possible in reality, nor would it be desirable if it were.

I also agree with him, and indeed it is a general psychoanalytical tenet, that psychoanalysis is a corrective emotional experience and that purely intellectual insight produces no changes. Certainly now increasingly greater emphasis is put by analysts and, I think, classical analysts as well as the so-called object relations school, on the nature of object relationships, and I doubt if anyone today holds totally to the view criticized by Alexander. I differ completely from Alexander, however, in my view about how our increasing knowledge about vicissitudes of object relationships


Dr. Segal is Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry and a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society.

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