CAPA Structural Integration 2004-03-06-Summer-June

Psycho-Logics and Posture

Originally published 1958 by the C.W. Danie Company Ltd. The editors wish to thank Jef, Linn, the Rolf Institute archivist, for calling our attention to this article and making a copy available.
Pages: 39-43
Year: 2004
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute – Summer/June 2004 – VOL. 32 nº 02

Volume: 32
Originally published 1958 by the C.W. Danie Company Ltd. The editors wish to thank Jef, Linn, the Rolf Institute archivist, for calling our attention to this article and making a copy available.


Some years ago I wrote a thesis on The Broader Aspects of Osteopathy in which I emphasized the great importance of and the necessity for working on the soft tissues of the body, so as to break down adhesions of tissue and remove undue tensions from the muscles, not forgetting stretching contracted ligaments, thus improving the blood circulation, lymph flow, and nerve supply. This soft tissue work is not “massage” as it is commonly understood. It is far more “searching” and deeper. Each practitioner, after a time, develops his own soft tissue technique, but the one, in my opinion, which is the most effective is that evolved by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who occupies the attention of the author of this monograph. This practitioner purports to work primarily on the fascia, as she maintains that this tissue, which is a fibrous membrane covering muscles, is the responsible factor, when severely contracted, in the production of a bad posture, which, in its turn, interferes with the proper functioning of the organism as a whole, thus setting up conditions that are conducive to the development of organic disease.

I have myself witnessed Dr. Rolf applying her technique to a patient, and I must frankly state that it is the most thoroughgoing and effective treatment I have ever seen, even if it is painful at the time; her technique certainly produces some most remarkable results, and that is all that matters so far as her patients are concerned, two of whom I know quite well personally. It is so obvious what the treatment has done for them.

Not only bodily tensions are locked up in the muscles themselves, etc., but so are the results of mental repressions and emotional stresses of years’ standing. Dr. Wilhelm Reich calls these muscle-tensions, which are more or less permanent, “muscle armouring.” It is a kind of defence mechanism, but is, of course, a false protection; but once the “physical” release is really attained by Dr. Rolf’s method, then the outcropping of the unconscious often takes place. Thus is the mind “got at” through the body. This release from tensions removes the obstructions to the innate curative forces of the organism.

In the main I heartily concur with what is written by the author of this monograph, which I sincerely hope will serve the purpose for which it is intended.

Leslie O. Korth
September 1957


Any psycho-therapy method which does not take physical structure, relations, processes, into account cannot be considered adequate to present day needs: similarly no technique for restoring, establishing or maintaining physical health appears adequate unless corresponding changes in psychological processes, relations, and so on are also taken into account. One can say, too, that education should also be based upon the recognition and treatment of a human being as a whole-organism-in-environments-as-a-whole. The term “nonelementalistic” describes an orientation or attitude of recognition of the organism-asa-whole principle: that which can be verbally split cannot be empirically divided; organismal processes, therefore, should not be split nor treated as separate entities. Though, of course, for convenience the focus of attention may be directed towards one aspect or facet (e.g. “mind” or “body”) rather than towards another: the therapeutic or the educational approach may be along a selected path, the validity of which is to be assessed according to the extent other paths are considered as related and/ or implicit.

Thus a school teacher, college professor, university or technical institute lecturer should be aware that his “teaching” activity will affect the student’s psycho-physical processes, and the teachability, progress, etc., of the student will be related to and affected by his state of “physical” and “mental” health and, of course, by his reaction to the teacher. The educator should, therefore, have some understanding of nonelementalistic methods (the approach being made through either “psyche” or “soma”).

Medical practitioners and “healers” of all kinds (including clergymen) should be aware of the serious limitations to effectiveness of treatment imposed by current (1957) methods of education.

Since the formulation by Alfred Korzybski and the publication of the non-Aristotelian system (which he called General Semantics)2 a profound change in orientation and approach to “therapy” and “education” appears to be taking place, particularly in the United States. Non-Aristotelian refers to a general modern method of orientation and thinking which departs from traditional or Aristotelian thinking, and which departure enables both scientist and layman to think in modern colloidal and quantum terms instead of inadequate, antiquated chemical and physiological terms.

As far as I am aware the first, and so far only, consistently non-elementalistic psycho-therapy to be formulated and published is that known as The Psychology of Personal Constructs by George A. Kelly, Ph.D 3 and in the field of “physical” development the first non-elementalistic manipulative technique is that discovered, developed and practised by Dr. Ida P. Rolf her system is known as Postural Dynamics. It should be stressed at this point tha Dr. Rolf’s Postural Dynamics is not claim ecasa therapy but is a technique for alterinf posture so that the body functions in accordance with the structure of its components it may be looked upon as a technique for assisting evolutionary changes in human structure and function.

The importance and far-reaching significance for future developments may be seer by the way Postural Dynamics and Psychology of Personal Constructs are so closely linked that not only does the one complement the other but each seems to imply the validity of the other. It is the purpose of this paper to indicate the link, as it appears tc the present writer, by extending Korzybski’s notions on equivalent assumptions to the further notion of equivalent assumptions-postures (an example illustrative of this will be given).

It appears expedient to begin with the following quotation from Korzybski:

“Two assumptions are said to be absolutely equivalent when each of them can be deduced from the other without the help of additional new assumptions. For instance, (a) the fifth postulate of Euclid: “If a straight line falling on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that side on which are the angles less than the two right angles,” (b) “Two straight lines parallel to a third are parallel to each other,” (c) “Through a point outside a straight line one and only one parallel to it can be drawn.” Each assumption silently, unconsciously presupposes the others, so that they can be deduced from each other. The actually are different forms of the same proposition. Another case is equivalence relatively to a fundamental set of assumptions A, B, C, … M. It might happen that in diminishing the fundamental set two assumptions which were equivalent before cease to be so…

“The crucial point … is that all of what was said is not obvious even to an attentive and intelligent reader. It took nearly two thousand years and some of the efforts of the best thinkers of the world to discover theseconnections and implications …

“Let us assume that the fifth postulate of Euclid is a false assumption seriously detrimental to human life, comparable to some of the false doctrines that underlie the morbid symptoms with which psychiatry deals every day. Let us assume, further, that a doctor innocent of the structure of human knowledge and the equivalence of assumptions would succeed after painful and laborious efforts in eliminating from the system of a patient this vicious assumption, but because of his innocence pays no attention to some other assumption,equivalent to the first, andwould not eliminate it. In such a case rationalization about the first false doctrines would probably make the treatment a failure, as the other unconscious and equivalent doctrine would, in virtue of the extremely logical character of the unconscious, perform its task and make the treatment ineffective. Of course, all possible degrees of failure might happen …”

Any form of representation has its own assumptions at the bottom, and when we accept a form of representationwe unconsciously accept sets of silent assumptions of which we become victims it the long run.”4

After careful study of Dr. Kelly’s works and some practical application of the technique it seems to me that he has formulated a practical clinical technique for bringing at least some unconscious assumptions into awareness for evaluation to be followed by elimination, revision or retention. It is not possible, in a short paper such as this, adequately to summarize over a thousand pages, or to offer more than a very brief suggestive sketch of Dr. Kelly’s theory and technique: the two volumes of his work should be studied by all serious researchers in this field.

Dr. Kelly begins his theory with a Fundamental Postulate (elaborated by eleven corollaries): “A person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events.6

The ways in which a person looks upon and construes the world in which he lives and by which he determines his behaviour are referred to as that individual’s Personal Constructs. These constructs are organized into some sort of system, made up of systems or groups of constructs. Some of these constructs are conscious, some partly conscious (having one emergent and one submerged pole) and some wholly unconscious.

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2004/685-1.jpg’>

The constructs by which a person maintains his identity and existence are called Core constructs; linked with these is an ongoing activity or pattern of behaviour called the Core Role.

Within one’s core structure there are those frames that enable one to predict and control the essential interactions of himself with other persons and with societal groups of persons. Altogether these constitute his conceptualization of his core role. Taken separately they delimit the facets of his core role and explain a person’s varicoloured reflections under changing social illumination. One’s deepest understanding of being maintained as a social being, is his concept of his core role.7

The technique involves two related Construction Cycles’ known as (i) the Circumspection-preemption-control, or CPC Cycle, which has to do with decision making it which the Self is involved, and (ii) the Cre ativity Cycle, which has to do with the way a person develops new ideas.

Therapeutic results achieved are directly related to the functioning of these twc cycles, and the resultant predictive value of Core constructs held. The Personal-Construct Psychologist is not concerned merely to effect or assist a change of Core Structure or Core Role, but aims rather to assist the client to become aware of (and to use) amethod for continuously changing adaptively in a changing world.

Everything the clinician does is aimed at the core, even though he begins every course of treatment at the periphery: just as, with a parcel, while untying the string and removing the wrapping paper one’s aim is to reach the contents. The first stage of the “unwrapping” is by means of the Repertory Test, a new diagnostic instrument devised by Dr. Kelly to elicit the personal constructs of a subject whose personal-social behaviour a clinician wishes to understand. Though the Repertory Test may bear some resemblances to the tests of Horowitz, Hartley, Rotter and Jessor, and others, the differences are fundamental. The clinician gets some idea of the client’s “psychological space” by making a careful mathematical analysis of the subject’s list of constructs (as elicited by the Repertory Test) looking upon them as a set of axes with respect to which he plots the behaviour of those persons with whom he lives. The overall structure of this “space” is looked upon as determined by a Core Structure. (Kelly devotes a whole chapter to this). By successive logical stages the Core is reached, worked upon and, finally, evaluative and creative potentialities released for mature human evolutionary functioning.

The theoretical basis of Postural-Dynamics, as far as I am aware, has not yet been published: my knowledge and experience9 is, therefore, limited to the following:

(i) “Postural-Dynamics”, a short paper by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D., printed for private distribution (1955) to practitioners and researchers;

(ii) a two-hour Demonstration Lecture given by Dr. Rolf at the Medical Society’s Rooms, Chandos Street, London, W.1, in the spring of 1956;

(iii) a course of ten hours’ fascial manipulation by Dr. Rolf during July and August1957;

(iv) about thirty hours of watching Dr. Rolf at work on cases (1957), and in 1958 an intensive course of training under Dr. Rolf in person to qualify as a practitioner in the Rolf Postural Integration Processing technique.

The general circumstances of (ii) to (v) [sicfor (iv)?] were such that notes could not conveniently be made at the time, and I have to rely on memory. Omissions, inadequacies and errors herein should, therefore, not be imputed to Dr. Rolf or her system but to the writer’s personal limitations of memory, understanding and presentation.

The human body has evolved over many thousands of years, is now evolving, and will (we suppose) continue to evolve. Mechanically the evolutionary trend being from a one-time horizontal to a vertical relationship of the physical Core Structure (see illustration) to the gravitational field. At the present stage of evolution (man walking more or less upright) the patterning inherent in the body as a mechanical unit vertically related to the gravitational field has not been sufficiently understood nor, in consequence, evoked. The great pioneering work of P. Matthias Alexander should, nevertheless, not be underestimated.

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Dr. Rolf aims to assist and accelerate evolutionary changes so that today already man may function as a balanced symmetrical dichotomous bi-polar unit, one pole of which goes up (no longer fighting against gravity) while the other relates him to the earth.

Function is determined by structure, though,of course, function can affect structure. The present structure of the body components is such that if the parts are organized in accordance with their structure, man can function as an organic unit far more effectively related to his environment-as-a-whole.

It is a basic premise of Postural Dynamics that physiological function is determined by fascial structure and not by the bony structure; therefore modification of organization and function must be effected by modification of the fascial tissues.

Disorganization of structure results in departure from healthy functioning which departure manifests itself as asymmetric tensions, and so on. Disorganization may result from numerous factors such as trauma, shock, disease, emotion (fear, grief, anger, etc.), beliefs, doctrines, etc. Disorganizations of structure and internal function, psycho-logical trends, and so on, are visibly recorded in what may be looked upon as a sort of map formed by the external contours of the body: in other words, Postureappears as a form of representation. Beliefs,assumptions, and so on become deeply imbedded, as it were, in the fascial tissue affecting physical structure and, therefore, determining function.

According to Korzybski (quoted above),”Any form of representation has its own assumptions at the bottom, and when we accept a form of representation we unconsciously accept sets of silent assumptions of which we become victims in the long run.” Posture, therefore, as a form of representation has its own assumptions at the bottom, and when we accept (adopt, develop, etc.) a posture, we accept sets of assumptions, beliefs, doctrines, and so on, of which, if false, unsound or inadequate, we become victims in the ling run.

The structure of an individual’s “psychological space” and psychological functioning affects and is affected by his physical structure and physiological functioning. These structures and functionings are empirically inseparable. If then, an assumption detrimental to human health and happiness is to be effectively eliminated not only mustequivalent assumptions be eliminated but also equivalent postures must be eradicated. (An illustrative case example is given later.)

Many of the failures or semi-failures, so well known to psychoanalytic practitioners, personal consultants, and so on, may well occur because changes in psycho-logical structure and behaviour cannot effectively be made and maintained without corresponding changes in physical structure and functioning. It does not seem unreasonable, however, to suppose that manipulative treatment unaccompanied by appropriate psycho-therapeutic treatment might, in some cases, prove ineffective in the long run.

The fundamental postural change from disorganization and asymmetrical relationships to organized and balanced relationship of the Core Structure to the gravitational field (with resultant changed functioning) can be established unbelievably rapidly by means of Dr. Rolf’s manipulative technique; ten hours of processing suffices to institute change which, according to Dr. Rolf, progresses spontaneously and inevitably over a period of years.

From the outset and throughout the processing the Core is the goal (the principal physical elements of this core are represented in our diagram): but treatment begins, and must always begin, at the periphery in order to make this Core accessible. When the Core has been made accessible it may even be possible, in some cases, for the manipulator to penetrate layers of abdominal muscles, by-pass viscera and palpate the anterior surfaces of the lumbar vertebrae without causing excessive distress or dis comfort.

During the processing discomfort may, a times, be experienced. This becomes under standable, however, when one consider that many knottings, adhesions, and fibrou infiltrations accumulated over a period o many many years are undone in a few hours.

The accompanying photographs show, ii profile, the contours of a male (age 50) an( a female (age 43) before the first and afte the tenth hour of processing by Dr. Rolf Fundamental postural changes, which ar typical, will be readily observed.

In both these cases the first hour was spen on general loosening of the “outer wrap pings”, and work done to increase oxygen ation, raising muscle tonus; some mobility was imparted to both pelvis and rib cage.

Work during the second hour was concen trated on the back and sides (giving addi tional length to the quadratus and other muscles) and on the feet (to begin establish ing proper relationship to earth).

The third hour was devoted to ensuring, by manipulation, that whatever belongs ante riorly (to a line drawn approximately frorr armpit to hip bone) is placed anteriorly, anc whatever belongs posteriorly is placed posterior to that line.

Attention during the fourth hour was focussed on imparting greater mobility to the pelvis (the two innominates, sacrum and coccyx).

The fifth hour was concerned with re-organization of the abdomen; length being given to the rectus abdominis, from fifth rib to pubes; and direct manipulation of the psoas, and so on.

In the sixth hour the legs were worked upon to integrate them with the pelvis, thus, as it were, giving new support to the new body.

The seventh hour was spent adjusting the shoulder girdle and head structure to make it an integral part of the new body.

From this point on (after the seventh hour) digression may be needed, and choice must be made whether to work on the pelvis or rib cage during the eighth hour for, in every case, either the pelvis or rib cage will need further loosening. In the case of the male (shown in the photograph) the eighth hour was spent working mostly on the rib cage; and in the case of the female, work was on the pelvic region.

In the ninth hour, for the male, work was on the pelvis, neck and ribs; while for the female it was mainly on ribs, neck and head.

The tenth hour can be looked upon as the hour of final overall adjustments and, for both male and female, proper relationship to earth was established by work on the feet; and proper relationship to “heaven” being established by adjustments to the head area.

During the actual processing of these two cases, or within a few hours of a processing, unconscious dramatizations embodied in knottings, adhesions, tensions, and so on,became conscious on eradication of their embodiment: some quite startling memories from very early childhood being evoked; childhood rationalizations and pre-verbal constructs being brought to awareness for reevaluation. Equivalent “assumptions” that had not been eliminated by several years of psycho-analysis (and could never be dealt with by psycho-analytic technique alone) appeared to be eradicated by manipulative adjustment. Both of these subjects, in the course of their own training as consultants, had undergone deep analysis; the one for five years and the other four and a half years and had been considered as satisfactorily completed.

To give an example of a posture representing an unconscious equivalent assumption:


Through interpretation of dream material, free association, interpretation of unconscious gestures and so on, many long forgotten and deeply buried incidents, facts, and early childhood evaluations were recalled, in analysis, and shown to be root components of complexes or constellations resulting in certain attitudes, evaluations, habits, etc., not appropriate to mature intelligent behaviour.

Among the complexes brought to light for re-evaluation, mature assessment and resolution was one that the analysand himself labelled his “snob-complex.”

Underlying this “snob-complex,” by which the client assessed his own social status and that of others, the following items were brought to light. These, of course, do not represent all the components of this particular complex; only a few factors significant for this paper are quoted.

… when the analysand was about six years old, Lord (then Sir Robert) Baden-Powell spent a long week-end at the analysand’s father’s country home. The lad recalled moments of great happiness in the company of B.-P., who played and romped with him in the grounds and garden on the estate…

… B.-P gave the lad a copy of Scouting for Boys, in which were diagrams illustrating types of gait and posture with explanations how assessment can be made of character, intelligence, etc., from gait and posture…

… the lad vividly recalled what he described as “a most revolting back view of someone treading their shoes over on the inside”…

… he remembered that, about the same age, one of the kitchen maids trod her shoes oven on the inside … she was of low intelligence, slovenly in appearance, and not over clear … (she did not stay long in that house) .

… the lad’s social “yardstick” had, at one end B.-P., whom he admired, and, at the other end the kitchen maid, whom he despised…

The childish reasoning and evaluation car be summarized thus: “I want to see myself as belonging to the group at the B.-P. end of my yardstick. If other people are to recognize me as belonging there, I must nol do anything that will align me, in their eyes, with the opposite end; therefore I must not tread the inside of my shoes over.”

Fear of displacement from the role he had chosen for himself made him, at first consciously and deliberately, put disproportionate weight on the outside of his foot This became an unconscious habit that persisted over the years, influencing detrimentally muscular development and structure of his whole body. An evaluation made al the age of six became “built into him” physically, affecting his whole functioning “physiological” and “psychological” Psycho-analysis dealt with the “psychological” disorganization and corrected that but left untouched the “physical” equivalent – the habitual posture.

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For many years after “successful” completion of the analysis he felt that there wa, still something vital to be dealt with: he continued persistently to work analytically on himself. He found, over and over again that, in spite of having the snob-comple) resolved on one level, he still caught him.self out tending to re-act in accordance wit! an out-of-date assumption, and could not understand why.

During manipulative treatment, when his feet were being worked upon, Dr. Rolf asked, “What childhood episode are you dramatizing in your feet?”

In a flash the incidents listed above were recalled anew and recounted while the work on his feet continued. At the end of that session Dr. Rolf said, “That dramatization should now be finished with – its physical embodiment is eradicated.”

(Full consent has been given by the party concerned to quote this extract from his case.)

Obviously it would be foolish to generalize from the one instance quoted: but there were many such in both cases outlined above. Many cases will need to be studied in detail in order to accumulate sufficient data to make sound assessment; nevertheless it does already appear, from these few preliminary indications, that the notion ofequivalent assumptions-postures is worth exploring.

D. L-W
Tunbridge Wells


1.The new terms “Psycho-logics” and “psycho-logical” were introduced by Korzybski (Science and Sanity) to indicate conjoint contemplation of at least both “emotional” and “intellectual” aspects, thus deliberately ascribing “emotional” factors to any “intellectual” manifestations, and “intellectual” factors to any “emotional” occurrences.

2.Scienceand Samity, an Introduction to nonAristotelian systems and General Semantics by Alfred Korzybski, third edition 1948 (4th edition now in preparation) published by the Institute of General Semantics, Lakeville, Connecticut.

3.In two volumes, 1955, by W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York.

4.From pp. 15 and 16, Time-Binding: The General Theory, by Alfred Korzybski (second paper). Presented before the Washington Society for Nervous and Mental Diseases, June 25th, 1925, and the Washington Psychopathological Society, March 13th, 1926. Reprinted in book form by the Institute of General Semantics, 1949, second printing 1954.

5.Op. cit. (see note 3).

6.Psychology of Personal Constructs, by George A. Kelly, Ph.D. (the Ohio State University), W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York, 1955. Vol. I, p. 46.

7.Ibid., p. 502.

8.Ibid., pp. 514-30.

9.Editor’s comment. It should be noted that among his “limitations” the author is a fully trained masseur and physiotherapist.Psycho-Logics and Posture

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