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Personal Report

Pages: 20-23
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Bulletin of Structural Integration Ida P. Rolf


In the middle of May, just before training classes began at Big Sur, the Foundation held its first conference on research, attended by a mixture of 100 people from three different groups. Rolfers came whose interest stemmed from their professional work. People from various scientific disciplines who had been rolfed themselves came to seek out ways of demonstrating objectively the changes they were experiencing personally. Graduate students also attended who hoped to find thesis material in some of the discussions. This combination of people generated a wave of excitement that prevailed the whole meeting, an excitement I have not experienced in other gatherings of this sort. New and novel ways of looking at the old “problem solving” business evolved.

Eugene Man, Dean of Research at the University of Miami, opened the conference on Thursday morning by pointing out the Foundation’s unique position.* Since SI is a relatively new discipline, the Foundation can guide its own research efforts unencumbered by tradition and past modes of thinking. This newness should also establish a good rapport between the practitioner in the field and the investigator in the lab. He proposed that we establish a council of prominent men from different scientific disciplines to guide our research efforts. Dr. Man graciously volunteered to help with its organization.

Later, Peter Levine displayed a device he has been developing to measure the resiliency of tissue. He also explained some techniques for determining skin surface temperature with liquid crystallography. George Kassebaum, M.D., shared some case histories of people with chronic pathological complaints, who he has worked with during the last year at a rehabilitation center in Walnut Creek.

Friday began with a presentation of some of the studies done in the Florida class early in 1972. Richard Carrera of the University of Miami Dept. of Psychology shoved movement study films of 24 processed, and 24 unprocessed clients. Practitioners at the conference we asked to indicate on a checklist who appeared to have been processed, how we made our choices, and how confident we were. The results will be compared with two groups of non practitioners.

In the afternoon, Ida Rolf read from her book.** It would be impossible for me to summarize the material presented, but I look forward to the time when the entire volume will be available to all of us.

Gladys Man followed with a preliminary report of a study done in the Pasadena class of 1972 involving interviews and hand drawings. She found only small differences in the drawings before and after processing when compared with two other control groups she has studies. She did, however, notice rolfers seem to have exceptionally balanced distribution of “sense modality.” They did not seem to favor one sense over the others when expressing themselves.

In the afternoon, a panel (Judy Aston, Al Drucker, Emmett Hutchins, George Kassebaum, Peter Levine, Peter Melchior and Ida Rolf) discussed some other important areas for investigation. Several practical problems were mentioned, such as methods for collecting data (tests, checklists, etc.) and devices for making direct measurements of observable processing changes. The panel also discussed the need to find ways of measuring “unmeasurable” qualities like negative entropy.

That evening, Julian Silverman gave us an interesting look athow a research project is set up by showing us how he designed the Agnew Study.*** After collecting all the necessary data, he had a cluster analysis done on the results. Cluster analysis is a computer program to filter and sort unrelated information, such as EKG’s, blood pressure, and blood chemistry. It determines if among the changes there is any pattern that tends to separate the data into groups. Three distinct groups appeared in the physiological and biochemical data.

Then Emmett Hutchins studied photographs of the clients for any similarities. His independant conclusions substantiated those of the previous cluster analysis. He found that the different groups were body types that he had observed in the course of his rolfing practice, and that each group’s response to processing could be more or less predicted. The three groups he described as “tight sleeve”, “rigid core”, and a class of people who are generally open. This latter group tends to exhibit the greatest change, while the first two groups tend to require more advanced hours to establish a comparable level of functioning.

Dr. Silverman also stressed the need to pin down all the demonstrable “effects” of rolfing by collecting statistically valid data on changes using traditionally acceptable tools. Then, we can move into more exciting, complex areas of research “using the theoretical constructs of the different fields of science and applying them to our own interests.”

Edwin Jackson, an M.D. who has been doing research for many years in the Department of Mental Health, followed with some wise and practical advice about the value of collecting many controls and setting up double blind research designs. He noted the importance of maintaining a unity of time and place in an experiment, and emphasized the necessity of starting each project with a clearly stated question.

Valerie Hunt arrived on Saturday to talk to us about the work she had done with Julian Silverman at Agnew and the work she is involved in now. She showed us myographic tracings that demonstrate graphically the changes in muscular activity before and after processing. Dr. Hunt discussed several tentative results, among which were: 1) a change from contraction to sequential contraction of agonist-antagonist muscle groups; 2) fewer random action potentials in muscles unrelated to the movement performed; 3) a shorter duration of muscle contraction and a greater amplitude during contraction;
4) elevation of baseline bioelectric activity during rest and isometric contractions (sitting, standing), and a lowering between bouts of isotonic contractions (walking, jogging, etc.). She offered possible interpretations which related each of these results to functional changes evident in a rolfed body.

Dr. Hunt also told us of a new study correlating states of anxiety with myographic tracings. She suggested that the high anxiety group in this study resembled quite closely the pre rolfed people of the earlier work at Agnew, and proposed that this might be a good area to investigate.

The final session of the conference dealt with brainstorming all the possible ideas that we as a group could put our efforts toward. A good deal of voting was done to establish what projects should be taken on first. We set up three classes of priority: immediate, intermediate and long range. (See list which follows.)

At the Foundation annual meeting on Sunday, many of the ideas that had come from the conference were implemented and supported. Chet Wilson suggested that rolfers show how real our interest is by contributing $100 each to get the organizational aspects of a research program off the ground. The meeting reached a consensus that this self-assessment should be asked of all practitioners, and set a goal of $5000.**** It was decided to go ahead with the foundation of a National Research Council on Structural Integration. Eugene Man made good his offer to help establish this group.

Should anyone have any special thoughts about people that they would like to recommend for the Research Council, please send them to Gladys Man, Secretary Treasurer, Research Committee, Foundation for Structural Integration, Box 8542, Coral Gables, Florida 33124. Please include information about the person’s background, interest in rolfing if known, present work, and status in the scientific community.

* For a full report on Gene Man’s remarks at the May conference, see p.,9 of this issue.

** An excerpt from Dr. Rolf’s comments appears on p. 7 of this issue. (Ed.)

*** A formal research monograph reporting the work of Drs. Silverman, Hunt, and others is in preparation for publication in Spring, 1973.

**** See the report on the current status of the Special Research Fund on page of this issue.Personal Report

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