Alexander Technique anxiety case histories

A few case histories

Kelly loses back pain AND anxiety

Like so many others, Kelly began lessons in the hope of getting relief from back pain. One hip was significantly lower than the other. As a result standing for more than a few minutes was painful, as was walking. She decided that at age 37, with two young children to attend to, she wasn't ready for a rocking chair. She surmised, probably correctly, that her difficulties were brought on by too vigorously jogging too soon after the birth of her second child. After six or seven lessons, she began to notice improvement in her ability to walk and stand. She also visually saw an improvement in her hip and pelvis alignment. While she found these results very satisfying, she wasn't all that surprised. After all, this was why she began lessons.

A very pleasant surprise came a bit later when she noticed she was no longer anxious. She explained that before Alexander lessons, she found herself dwelling on negative or fearful subjects a good deal of the time. Then one day she noticed she no longer did. She had not been disabled by anxiety, instead it was a subtle dampening of her quality of life. In any case, she is delighted by this development. It comes as an unexpected bonus of her Alexander work.


It seemed to Cliff that he began his life afraid. As a very young child he applied his emerging intelligence to imagining all sorts of scary things. As a six year-old he panicked when he imagined he saw a mouse on the floor of his room in the middle of the night. When he was nine he paid attention to news of the Korean war on the radio and feared that armies would be bringing their killing to the hills around his home. One afternoon he spotted an 'old' man (probably about 50 years old) going into the grocery store. His jacket pocket had a bulge in it. Cliff ran home in a panic, sure the bulge was a gun and the man was a murderer.

As a teenager, Cliff naturally found himself attracted to girls. He was even able to talk to them sometimes. But those most attractive were the most scary. He simply could not bring himself to approach them. Instead, he stewed endlessly about how badly he wanted to date certain girls. As a young adult, he got a bit better at faking confidence. He was smart enough to see that his fears were not realistic, but he was powerless to make use of that knowledge.

Cliff stumbled on the Alexander Technique as a middle-aged man. Something about it vaguely interested him. He did not know that Alexander lessons often reduce anxiety or other aspects of an unduly exagerated fear response. He reports that after many lessons it suddenly dawned on him that he was rarely anxious or fearful. He still experienced fear or anxiety on rare occasions, but it was very mild and he came to realize it would soon pass. He says this one aspect of the Alexander work has truly transformed his quality of life. Life is now a joyful adventure with anxiety lifted from his shoulders.


As a child, Steve agonized over how to make friends and how to avoid scary bullies. He now realizes he didn't have more bullies in his surroundings than most other kids. He was just more frightened by them. Later, he shared Cliff's reluctance to approach girls he was attracted to.

In his 30's he had an opportunity to speak in front of 50 or so of his co-workers to relay his experiences on a project that might be useful to his audience. He was pleased with the honor but very nervous about it. When the time finally came, he found his breathing restricted, his throat closed up. He was nearly unable to speak at all. He had been told that it can help to admit to being nervous in such a situation. He tried that. No luck. The audience was sympathetic. Many of them would have been nervous too. He wasn't penalized, but he wasn't elevated to the status of a sought-after speaker.

Years later, after much work with the Alexander Technique, he found himself calmly discussing personal details in front of a group of 30. The contrast was stunning to Steve. He was actually enjoying speaking in an environment very similar to the one which paralyzed him before.

Steve eventually came to realize that an inappropriate and overactive fear response is frequently behind much of the habitual misuse displayed by most human creatures. Misuse that is not consciously experienced as fear.

Actor William Hurt

Many performing artists have found relief from performance anxiety with lessons in the Alexander Technique. In a video describing his experiences with Alexander work, the great actor William Hurt described an occasion when he found himself onstage, during a live performance, with such severe stage fright that his jaw was literally locked so he couldn't open his mouth to speak his lines. He had to turn upstage and use a hand to pry his mouth open.

He credits Alexander work with eliminating performance anxiety as well as improving all aspects of his performance.

An Alexander Technique Lesson

An excellent introductory video

Several experienced AT teachers discuss the work.

Sandy and Forrest Hawkins,
AmSAT Certified Alexander Technique consultants
Call us with questions or to book an appointment:
We are located near downtown Boquete

"We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains."
F.M. Alexander