Explorations Optimizing the Animal:

Author
Translator

R: Please tell me about your life before becoming a Rolfer.

F: I was an MD, I studied [medicine] in Zurich, I did a year of residency, and then I was a GP for three years, but it was nothing definite, just passing time. And then I got into Rolfing.

R: So you got involved soon after starting to work as an MD?

F: Yes, I worked essentially four and a half years, one of them in the hospital. But I [was in] psychoanalysis at the time, one of the four-hours-a-week kind of things. I thought I was going into psychiatry for a long time; but it did not turn out that way.

I got into Rolfing when I visited a friend in California. I had a session there without knowing what it was. I didn’t even ask. Then I had a series in Munich, and became interested to learn more about it. I heard that one could audit, and I applied. They wrote back that I had to write a paper which I did in about three days. I was amazed because I had to show that I knew anatomy and physiology. So I did that, and went over to Berkeley.

I remember there was an [admissions] class, which surprised me, because I didn’t want to become a Rolfer. I just wanted to sit in and audit, which means you sit back, don’t disturb anybody, and pay your tuition. I didn’t understand why I had to pay that much.

It was a good time but I didn’t see anything structural, and I thought this was not for me. I decided I would go home and look around more, and I didn’t want to go through [admissions] after class. But they asked me to come in anyway. They persuaded me to give it another try. So it was kind of accidental that I continued.

R: What was your experience with the training itself?

F. One thing was the culture shock with Berkeley. I remember one incident when I lost my speech for an hour of two. I urgently needed to talk in German to someone. I grabbed Bill Smythe and talked to him in German for about 15 minutes, without him understanding anything; and I was okay again.

In class nothing much was done with the auditors. We just sat around and watched and listened to Michael Salveson’s lectures, which were great, only we didn’t learn much about structure.

Then I gave it a try for practitioning. I was in a bad stage of my life, so it was not such a good experience. The class was also pretty disruptive. It was taught by Jim Asher. It was chaotic, and I still didn’t see much and didn’t know what I was doing.

But then I gave it a try, back here with friends who wanted sessions; and then Dick Demmerle came over here and I kind of went along. And then later I became interested. I took some workshops, and we put an organization and workshops together here in Europe. After several years I felt it was time to really find out what I was doing. That was when a long process got started.

R: That was when you realized you needed to do your own research.

F: I did workshops with everybody and then I took the advanced class. That was pretty critical, because I felt cheated. I thought they should give me back the money. I didn’t learn anything. Talk in class was mainly about astrology and numerology. But I had a piece of metalearning there. I realized that if I wanted to find out what our work is about, I had to find out myself.

That’s how I started out, but I still thought I could find out things by getting those people who knew Rolfing to be more clear about it. So I started to ask questions. Later I realized of course that the function of these trainings is mainly psychological and ideological. The content was, strictly speaking, zero And what really got me for a time, was that I fell for it. For years I didn’t even ask the most sensible questions. The first thing one should ask is what is structure exactly? But that was never talked about in class.

All these trainings are really not trainings. In a real training you are methodically allowed to understand something. We would just do a little there and there, but we didn’t understand anything. I have the impression that most [Rolf Institute] classes serve as an initiation ritual. It is not really educational because there is no teaching content. So it is almost one hundred percent ritual, to prepare you for your function as a Rolfer, as in primitive societies.

R: You were trained about 17 years ago. Do you think anything has changed?

F: Not much as far as I know. It seems to be pretty much the same. There was some hope when the Institute split up, because the fundamentalist mythological faction left. There was hope that a more rational kind of inquiry would take place. But that doesn’t seem to have happened.

R: How was your personal experience with being Rolfed?

F: My personal experience of it was very good, it was helpful and felt good. But I was also interested because I felt that the idea behind all this was fascinating, that there was a structure, and that it could be changed in the direction of integration. Only what this direction was, that [is what] was never made clear in class. That was why I became more and more disappointed. And the idea that one should just keep working, and then one would “get it” didn’t turn out to be true.

But later I became interested again. At the time Dick Demmerle was working with me here in Zurich. When he did something you could see it, I could see it. He got the most dramatic changes I have ever seen. That was also depressing in a way, because I couldn’t get these changes. On the other hand this meant that apparently you could do something if you knew how. That was probably what made me stick with Rolfing.

A crucial point came at a six day with Jan Sultan, I think it was in 1983, after I took the advanced class. He made the statement that the femur could be rotated either externally or internally. I hooked onto that, and asked, how can we determine the direction of this rotation? Because I can rotate the femur however I want, but what is its preference structurally? That was what started the whole process, because that is something you should be able to determine. Before that it just looked like you couldn’t say anything.

Jan was also talking about pelvic tilt. The horizontal pelvis had always been this myth. In which way the pelvis was not horizontal was never even asked! One was supposed to just horizontalize it somehow.

I don’t know what Jan later made out of [the emerging theory]. Soon after that I started the “Notes” [on Structural Integration], and I kind of bullied him into writing about it. So what is in the first issue of the “Notes” is all I know about his views. That gave me a starting point to find out what the questions were.

R: In your Notes you don’t seem to give Jan a lot of credit for his role in developing the theory. Your views are based on his idea after all.

F: It was not a base, but it was a starting point. Jan was the most inquisitive of the Rolfers at the time. He was the only one who would even ask such questions. It started with him. Personally, it was disappointing for me that he never seemed to follow up on it. When I started working along this initial Internal/ External idea, questions turned up and I tried to answer them. I found some answers which led to other questions and other answers and concepts; but then I was all on my own and nobody responded, neither did Jan. I don’t know what he talks about these days.

It soon turned out that the original description of Internal/External bodies had nothing to do with the craniosacral rhythm. It could have been breathing or something else that started that orientation of the body in space. The question was how to determine the direction of orientation, internal or external rotation, anterior or posterior pelvic tilt. And of course the most important question, what is it that makes these differences in orientation important to us as Rolfers?

Obviously the answer is gravity. Because gravity acts differently on an anterior pelvis, then on a posterior pelvis. I brought this up, but nobody was interested. I asked Jan to rewrite his article on a higher level which would account for the new points of view, but he wasn’t interested either. So I did it myself which meant putting all these ideas on firm theoretical ground. Jan was very important at the start by igniting and asking questions, so l give him credit for that; but almost everything had to be reformulated, and he left me to do that.

R: You are saying that it became clear that internal/external has nothing to do with the craniosacral rhythm. I saw Jan use the rhythm to determine someone’s structural type at a workshop.

F: The question here was, how do you define two types? What are your key criteria? What Jan first used was the femurs, which I changed to the legs, because in Structural Integration we do not look at bones but at the whole body. Then I argued extensively that it makes more sense to look at the tilt of the pelvis as the primary criterion. Later I found that the saggital shift of the pelvis, which is much more variable and harder to determine, is a dually more basic than the tilt.

But the tilt was fine as a criterion. You don’t need craniosacral motion to determine this, you use gravity by applying a simple test. Gravity is specific to our field, so there is no reason to exclude such a simple method which allows us to determine the type. Of course you have to know how to apply the test correctly, because you need to consider saggital shift, which changes the tilt of the pelvis.

I agree with Ida Rolf that gravity is the basic consideration for our field. The way I go about these questions is what I call “radical orthodoxy”. I go back to the basic new insights Ida Rolf had and don’t look at what else there is in secondary opinions and so on. If I look at what is revolutionary about Ida Rolf, I see three ideas which she never really developed very much, but which did not exist before. One is the notion that the body has a structure; second, that the body is always in the gravitational field; and, third, that this structure can be changed in the direction of an improvement. Which means that you can also change it in the direction of disintegration! I took these three ideas from Ida Rolf and started from there, disregarding all the rest.

Radical new ideas always get mixed with conventional ones. They never stay pure. That’s the way we are. What people approve of what fits their experience, what is known to them, and the new ideas tend to get lost again. I hear that in Ida Rolf’s classes one could always say “gravity” or “fascia,” and that was always a good thing to say. These two things got lost. I hardly heard about them in class. There is a lot of talk about muscles and bones, which means going back to the days before Ida Rolf. In my theories I stuck to her idea that you have to consider gravity and fascia.

R: Don’t we often simply use the name of a muscle to specify the location we are talking about?

F: My experience has been that as soon as you use a muscle to name a location, you think “muscle” and you have left the structural field. In the “Notes” I always write something like “the fascia of the tensor” to make clear that it is not the muscle as an organ but connective tissue that I am talking about. As soon as you think “muscle” you think of something that contracts, and not of a tissue which carries tension. We have to keep our mind purposely in the structural field, otherwise it slips away into the conventional. It is hard, because fascia is much more elusive than muscles and bones, which are more clearly defined.

R: So you started with Ida Rolf’s revolutionary ideas. How did you proceed from there?

F: I left aside things like “waistline back”, “head on top”, the “psoas” as a muscle. My premise was, don’t think muscle, think fascia; don’t think about bones, think about connective tissue; don’t think about the part, think about the whole. Whenever a question comes up think about gravity first, then think about fascia, and then look what else you need. Usually you don’t need anything else.

It is difficult to stick with this though. The problem is that most Rolfers don’t know what gravity means. For me it was always a clearly defined physical term. I assume it was for Ida Rolf, since she had a PH.D. In biochemistry. She must have known what the center of gravity means exactly, and how gravity affects the body. But as far as I know, she never really examined how gravity affects the body in standing. Or how it affects that body if it [assumes a different postural stance].

For an engineer that is the first thing he would look at. A simple example: If the body is bent forward, gravity acts differently on it than if it is bent backward. That is the most basic question as far as gravity is concerned.

The problem with fascia is that we need much more abstract models to understand it. Bones and muscles are also models, but they are closer to our experience. The fascial net is something we don’t have direct access to. In order to explain the effects of gravity on fascia, we need these very abstract models like the block model and, what turned out to be very useful, is the hydrostatic balloon model. But that [model] is not something simple, and doesn’t resemble a body very much. There are no bones and no muscles [in that model].

R: You think this is the reason why your theories are not widely understood or accepted in the Rolfing community?

F: The field of Structural Integration is more demanding than the field of anatomy. SI is a less sensuous experience. It is much more abstract, like physics. Nobody likes physics. I don’t like it myself, because it is so abstract. It expresses extremely abstract concepts for very concrete things, and that is something we don’t like.

But I don’t think that is the main reason for my ideas being rejected. Rolfers are usually intelligent, so it is not a question of intelligence. In the end it is a psychological question. Because when you start looking at gravity and the fascial net with these models, you [do] come to a position where you can make clear statements. In the end we will be able to say this is structural integration and this is not structural integration, [or in contrast] structural disintegration. This is what nobody wants [in the Institute].

I remember in class I only got approving comments for what I did or said, although I never really knew what I was doing. The teacher convinced me that I was doing something good, which was nice from a human standpoint. I needed it at the time. But I never heard anybody say, “no, that is not working because of this and this.” And nobody could tell me this is good because of that and that.

R: My experience was similar. It would baffle me that I never heard an instructor say, “oh, that didn’t work,” or “this time we didn’t get the desired change.” One would expend that to happen in a situation where people are trying to learn a skill.

F: That is very nice [for the Students] of course, but it is very much in the service of avoiding conflict. In the end I had to understand this as a kind of collective psycho-pathology in the Institute, which is a pity. If it were just because these theories are difficult, we could make it simpler with time. Twenty years from now, I’m going to be able to write a textbook about these things that anybody can understand. Because by then, things will be in place.

When you [first] learn something, everything is complicated. Once you have mastered it, it becomes simple. When fan and I started with this inquiry we knew nothing. There was no definition of structure, not even the question of what structure or it’s integration was.

In an established field you have definitions and concepts and you juggle them around, and relate them in new ways to find new knowledge. Our field had to be generated first, which means a lot of definitions and models and errors and vagueness of course, and that makes it very complicated.

R: I would like to talk a little about other people’s ideas. What do you think about the “Principles of Rolfing” according to Maitland and Sultan?

F: I was outraged, I felt almost insulted when I first heard about [the “Principles”] several years ago. There was no content that one could talk about. It is insulting to spell out a sentence like: “A follows B.” and then “C follows D,” and then … nothing.

When I say A follows B. I first define A, and then B. and then I try to prove that it is true. But there was none of that. It was just statements like A follows B. period. That has nothing to do with rational thinking.

The point is that if you make such a statement, and you contend it is true, you should show that it is true. Otherwise it is worthless.

As soon as you say something is true, that makes other things false. You make a statement and then, as in all fields of rational law, you want to prove it. You want to know if it is true or false. If you try to do that in the Rolf Institute everybody throws up their hands and says, ‘oh no, we don’t want all that again”! Apparently there were fights before my time. Nobody wants to argue about these things. The sad thing is that we have all the fighting and aggression going on anyway, but we have nothing to show for it! If we had fought about content at least we would have something.

R: What do you think about Jan Sultan’s notion of “lines of transmission?”

F: I think that expression is a misnomer. The question is, what is being transmitted? In his article [in Notes on Structural Integration] he says it is kinetic energy; which is not possible. Kinetic energy cannot be transmitted in the body in this way.

I interpreted it differently, as lines of compression. In the case of a tower for example, engineers talk about tensile and compressional stress. It is again gravity, which produces strain, which results in stress. What is important about this is that, if you have a pelvis with an anterior tilt, you have compression in front; with a posterior tilt you have compression in back.

R: Why are you only thinking of lines of compression and not of both tension and compression?

F: If a solid structure is bent you get compressional strain on the concave side and tensile strain on the convex side. Since we are not made of wood or iron, we cannot use that model very well, because usually we don’t have tensile stress in that sense. In a body, the compressed side will usually collapse, and not hold up, and therefore, we don’t have tensile stress on the convex side.

The exception is ACMOTT [Anterior Convex Mid-line Of The Trunk]. If the trunk is in ACMOTT you have compression of the posterior wall of the trunk, and you have tensile stress in front, which I describe in the “Notes.”

(Hans Flury explains his concept of ACMOTT in the following manner (paraphrasing): Ideally, the mid-line of the trunk in the side view would be straight. It could then be vertical in erect posture with the weight distributed evenly all around.

In reality, however, nothing is ever exactly straight. The direction of deviation must therefore be taken into consideration. Since the spinal column provides reinforcement against collapse in the back wall of the trunk, it is favorable to approach the ideal of the straight mid-line from an anterior convex deviation, or ACMOTT, and not from the posterior convex (POCMOTT), or a shaped one. For a detailed explanation of these concepts, including illustrations, I refer to Notes on Structural Integration 92/93, pp. 37-43. – H.R.)

R: I hear Gael Ohlgren and David Clark submitted their paper on natural walking to you for publication in the “Notes”. Why did you reject it?

F: Actually Michael Salveson sent it to me for review, because he wanted me to give a talk on walking at an annual meeting. It was not intended for “Notes.” My main criticism was that it was not structural, but kinesiological in nature. Apparently that did not go down well.

If you use kinesiological concepts you will, perhaps, get beautiful kinesiological answers to kinesiological questions. I know now by experience that, if you use muscles and bones to describe your theory, you will not arrive at structural answers to structural questions. What Gael Ohlgren and David Clark did was probably better kinesiology. But it was not [related to] Structural Integration, and therefore it is not interesting for us.

It would be possible to take a concept from another field, translate it into our concepts, and it might help to find something new. But first you have to translate things, like a language. This is what I tried to do with the theory of craniosacral motion. I translated it into structural terms, which meant, for instance, to include gravity, which is not part of cranio-sacral theory.

The motion of the sacrum [in its subtle cranio-sacral rhythm] doesn’t mean anything in terms of gravity. [Rather] the pelvis [as a whole] also has some motion as part of the cranio-sacral cycle, and [in that respect|, gravity acts differently on pelvis with different orientation in space. So this whole theory was translated into structural concepts and gives new answers and new meaning.

This was my criticism with the Ohlgren/Clark paper. Of course I have my own theory of normal walking in structural terms. Their question of how the femur rotates in walking is not very relevant because, what does it have to do with gravity? What does it have to do with the fascial net? And what does it have to do with economy, which for me is the basic premise of the field? From a structural point of view it doesn’t give you any answers.

R: What is your opinion on Rolfing Movement integration?

F: I don’t know what it is. There is no description, no theory and nothing published as far as I know. When I was on the board, there was a fight between the “old movement” and the “new movement,” as they were called. Because I didn’t know what either was about, I suggested that they put something down in writing so we would know what they were fighting about, but that of course never happened.

R: Have you ever taken a movement class?

F: I had movement sessions, but that was back in 1978. I think everybody did more or less what they wanted, a kind of self experience. Which is fine, but it has nothing to do with Structural integration. Self experience may be used as a tool, but what we are looking for is the most economical function. At least according to the theory as far as it exists.

There are a number of different kinds of movement from different people like Hubert Godard, Roger Pierce, Duggan/French, but I don’t really know any of the systems.

If you want to see which movement is most economical, you have to consider gravity, you have to consider the forces that are involved; and you have to know exactly how this movement looks in space. You need a description to be able to make an assessment. But these descriptions aren’t there, except for Normal Function which is based on describing exactly the movement in space, so one can asses how forces act on the body.

R: Movement teachers do talk about economy of movement sometimes.

F: The problem is they don’t use the term in the same sense. When I say economy, I mean physical economy, as in joules per minute. You cannot say, for example, something feels more economical, because it is hard to feel the difference if it is not big. You cannot go with what people feel. They may say it feels easy, but that is not the same as economical. Actually in Normal Function, people often feel it is not easy.

R: Is this the dividing line between your and other people’s movement systems, that for you economy is the defining criteria, whereas others would argue that there are a lot of other criteria?

F: From a human standpoint there are lots of others, and lots that are more important. Economy is not an important thing in itself. The whole thing comes from a different question, namely, why did Ida Rolf define normal structure as normal? Here we come back to the question of, what do we mean by structure7, what do we mean by integration? The core of the concept is normal structure We can say that if we change structure in the direction of normal structure, we probably have integration. If we change it away from normal structure we have disintegration.

R: So you think Ida Rolf described normal structure because she thought that with that kind of structure, function would be more economical? I often hear she believed that having normal structure will advance a human being on many levels.

F: The first question is, what is normal structure anyway? How is it defined? Ida Rolf never defined anything clearly. Except, in her book she gives one definition of normal structure, which states that in normal structure the centers of gravity of all the segments are Gned up exactly vertically and, in addition, there is no rotation and no tilt of the segments. She uses the block model to define normal structure. This also means that if the centers of gravity are not exactly aligned, structure is not normal.

The problem with this definition is that it doesn’t define structure, but an arrangement of the body in space. So if you would hold yourself [posturally] in that exact arrangement, it would look like normal structure, but as soon as you let go, it would of course fall apart. So we have to add to the definition that such a vertical arrangement would be normal structure, if no effort is needed to maintain it.

This means we have to take structure and function apart. The fad that they are usually not clearly kept apart, or even defined at all, is at the base of all this confusion [within the Rolf Institute]. This is one of the things I was working toward in the “Notes” over the years. It was a long and difficult process.

So when structure is defined in the above-mentioned way, [we can ask], why should that be normal? As an example let us look at the famous horizontal pelvis. No tilt, no rotation and aligned exactly vertically would be normal structure. If it just is that way, i.e. not functional[by held].

Why should this horizontal pelvis be normal and not an anterior tilt of say 5^0?1 think Ida Rolf argued that the design of the body demands it, which is not a logical argument. So, can we find a premise that says the horizontal pelvis is normal and every pelvis which has a tilt is not normal?

The only logical answer I can find is that a horizontal pelvis is more economical You don’t need to hold it, it stands all by itself in labile balance. As soon as you have an even microscopic tilt you have to hold it up,or it falls down. Only if it were exactly horizontal, which is not possible, would it require no energy to stay the way it is. The same principle applies to all the centers of gravity of the different body segments.

This is how I identified the “economical” premise for Structural Integration. If economy is the principal criteria, then the structure Ida Rolf indicated as normal is the best, and should be called normal.

You could of course say that a horizontal pelvis is also healthy. But from the viewpoint of health you could have many possible degrees of tilt which are all in the range of “health.”

R: The same seems true for states of consciousness or psychological states.

F: Yes. You cannot say that a slight tilt of the pelvis makes a difference in your state of consciousness. At least you cannot demonstrate it. But with the economical premise you can.

R: Rolfers often talk about “ease” and “lift” and there is the vague idea that these phenomena stem from horizontality of the pelvis, for example. What do you think about this?

F: Ida Rolf frequently used the term “ease.” It is a vague term and can mean many things, among others it can mean economical. If something requires less effort, it is easier than something that requires more effort.

But usually when people say it is easy, they mean it is easy for the mind, for the brain, it is easy to regulate [by the nervous system]. But that is always less easy physically. The easier you want to function physically, the more you have to involve your regulatory systems because [that kind of movement] is more sophisticated. There is a conflict here; and, therefore, you need to know what you mean by”easy.”

In her book, Ida Rolf defines Rolfing as a physical method for producing better human functioning. For one thing, this says that it is a method in the service of function, and not something in itself.

Then you have to define what is meant by better human functioning, which could be a number of different things. But, I think on the level of the body, she meant economical functioning. As defined in the “Notes on Structural Integration,” function means movement and posture, because standing is also function~ and not structure.

R: This distinction is never made in Rolfing classes. At least not in the ones I attended. There is, for example, practically no attempt at distinguishing between different kinds of [postural] stance a person can assume.

F: This is because structure and function are never kept apart clearly.

When I first developed my theory of structure, function, stance and so on, I used the concept of the Structural Point [see Notes 1991]; i.e. it takes the least amount of energy to stand a certain way, which is different from person to person, because of their different structures. Now that is not so important anymore [in my theory].

Now [at this point in the development of the theory], we can say that for practically all people, it is most economical to stand in minimal folding, i.e. the zig-zag-line is almost straight, and that ACMOTT is practically straight. Most people don’t find it easy to stand that way because they have to watch [constantly] that they don’t contract muscles, since this disturbs the arrangement. They feel that they are grounded though.

The term “easy” has many other connotations, like, “it feels good, it is loose,” etc. Often in most economical Normal Function one feels a lot of passive tension in the fascia. That is what gives you the economy because you need fewer muscles, but it feels like tension, and therefore not necessarily easy. That is why I don’t accept “easy” as economical.

In my practice I show people how their habitual stances feel more comfortable to them, but that minimal folding is more grounded, and takes less energy. But, it takes a lot more concentration, and they should not stand like that all the time. It is just information which sometimes becomes really useful, for example if they walk or carry something.

I need to show this to people, so [I can assess Structural Integration]. By now, we can say in short, that you have integrated structure when it can do Normal Function when it couldn’t do it before, or when it can do it better than before. [That’s] because, Rolfing is a physical method for producing better human functioning; and when you interpret that as “more economical functioning,” you have to change the structure so that the body can function more economically than before.

You have to make sure though, that the client was at his optimum [i.e. using only the minimum amount of muscle tension necessary for that particular function] when you assess his structure [before an intervention]. Only then can you say [that the change you observe after the intervention] was structural.

You cannot easily use a test like that in practice though. It is more like a mental image that helps you remember what you are doing. You have to keep that in mind, and know that is how you could assess things absolutely. But you don’t do that with people. It doesn’t work like that because people cannot do a movement exactly the same way before and after.

It is a common human mistake to try to take what you think [should be,] into reality. One should always keep that apart. In practice you work more by observing and seeing, [in order to see if j you got a little bit of change in the direction of integration. If you are clear in your mind about what you want to do you can see that.

R: In your “Notes” you talk about the possibility of using Normal Function to assess a Rolfer’s work. What you just said seems to contradict that.

F: As I said [earlier], you could design tests like that, but don’t put them into reality. For example if you design a test for normal sitting and you keep working and testing to improve that function, you would possibly disintegrate the client from another point of view.

What we do in Rolfing is, essentially, softening fascia. So you really would only test the softness, but not the integrity of the fascial net. Softer is not always better. If you make someone more mobile, that doesn’t mean you integrated him. Fascia has the function of holding the body.

When you go into folding for example, your body is really held by tensed fascia, instead of muscles. That is why it is the most economical way of moving. Now if you soften the fascia they can hold the body less and you need more muscles again. So if you improve normal sitting more and more you can, in principle, disintegrate the body, because it will need more muscles to do other things. Like standing for example, where you don’t need that much length or softness in the extensor sling. You always have to keep a lot of different factors in mind.

R: You are essentially looking for a compromise between different aspects of integration.

F: Look for it, but don’t [expect to] find it! Because finding it would mean optimizing say a hundred different factors, or maybe a thousand, I don’t know. And you can never do that. Maybe you can optimize two or three. But what about the other ten, which also play a role? You can never reach your goal. There is always something else which you have to consider.

That doesn’t make what you just considered wrong. From that point of view it looks that way, but from another point of view you have to consider something else. You do something, and it is a little better. Then you go somewhere else, look from another point of view at the body, and do something for that. You may find it exciting that you [saw something change], but don’t get stuck. In our minds we have to have simple concepts to understand things, but reality is not that simple. We have to isolate aspects, and look at them one at a time. And then put that aside and look at another aspect. But don’t try to find a compromise between the two. Just leave it [at that].

If you have enough points of view which are isolated and defined so you can understand them, and look for still others, you start to cover the whole body better and better, and you forget less. That’s why we need more development of the whole theory. It will probably turn out that there is a kind of hierarchy, meaning some aspects are more important than others. In 20 years from now, when we know more about structure, we will also know which are the three most important ones and the next five ones, etc., so that we can work in that order. But that will take a lot of development. With time we will get a more complete picture, but it will always be somewhat fragmented.

R: How do you decide then, when you have done enough? When is a Rolfing series completed for you?

F: I have tried going fast, and doing lots of sessions beyond ten. My experience was that when I go on after ten I can get more change, but it sort of starts to “swim.” The changes don’t stay and so there is no sense in getting it to swim more. You can do too much.

We cannot harden tissue, we can only soften it. Shortness has two aspects. [1] It is resistance to functioning more freely and perhaps more normally, and [2] it is also support for the body. So if you start taking that support away, you free the body, but you have to be careful not to take too much support [in the form of shortness] away. This inevitably happens when you go on working. I found that even with really tough guys, when working weekly, after 12 or 13 sessions it starts to go bad. What you need then is Normal Function. That is why I stop early, especially with people who are fairly soft. With them I sometimes do only five sessions, or I work only half an hour and the rest of the session is movement. People would feel good after more work but not for long.

R: I’d like to discuss some specific aspeds of your theory. With regard to ACMOTT the question of internal dynamics of the thorax comes up. In inhalation, support from the inside is much better and the front lengthens, whereas in exhalation the thorax tends to collapse, especially with internals. It is therefore easy to have ACMOTT in inhalation, but in exhalation it seems that selective muscle tension is necessary to stay Bred. What do you think about this?

F: I you really have ACMOTT, the trunk is stabilized by gravity, and any muscle activity disturbs the arrangement, because it compresses the trunk. But the fact is that most people cannot really have ACMOTT. In Folding, the more you bend forward the clearer you get ACMOTT. The more you,come up to standing the more difficult it gets.

If you don’t have ACMOTT, but in inspiration you go in the direction of ACMOTT, you can say that is Normal Function. Away from it would not be Normal Function.

R: It is clear to me that you can have ACMOTT with relaxing ail muscles in the trunk in sitting, and also in standing if you support yourself with your arms, like when you are rolfing, for example.

But if you go from standing into Folding, the relaxation of muscles has to be selective to keep ACMOTT intact. If you relax all your erector spinae muscles completely, you would go into POCMOTT [Posterior Convex Mid-line Of The Trunk], as you do when you have reached maximal hip flexion in Folding, and you want to touch the floor with your hands. This reversing of ACMOTT is not achieved by active flexion, but by additional relaxation of extensor muscles. In my experience, in Folding, I can relax everything in front and my mid-line stays long, but in back I need some muscle tension to maintain ACMOTT.

F: I [see your point], and, maybe we have to introduce some muscles after all. I formulated the theory in relatively absolute terms. I was also a little provocative of course, because I would like somebody to show me that you really do need some muscles. I take one side of the argument, and you prove to me the other side.

I am interested in economy, so I try to find a kind of movement or position where I need as little muscle tension as possible, preferably zero. If I can do that, fine. If, in the end, I do need some active muscle tension, okay, but I would like somebody else to show me, because I am not so interested in that [per se]. ACMOTT is normal not because it takes zero muscles tension, but because it takes less than POCMOTT.

R: The concept of ACMOTT requires that the thoracic spine is relatively flat. I often observe a spine that has the appearance of being very straight in the area between the scapulae, and there is often a lack of front/back dimension between spine and sternum. It seems these clients would benefit from more curvature in the thoracic spine rather than less. Has this conflict ever come up for you?

F: The spine does not exist, really [in a structural sense]. But let?s take “time out” and look at the spine. There seems to be a hierarchy of what to look at. First you look at the physiological curves. They must be present. If you have a reversed curve you are way off, anyway. So you try to get the proper physiological curves if you can. Second, you look for the right transition points where the curve changes in the other direction. Are the transition points too high, too low? Only the third consideration is the depth of the curves. Usually when you get the first two you have the maximum you can get.

Now let’s not look at the spine anymore, but at structural things. Let’s look at the back. The back is the back wall of the trunk. How can it happen that the back wall is too straight or flat or even dented in so that the curve seems reversed? This can only happen by contraction of the back musculature. It can not happen by gravity.

R: Not by gravity, but by contraction of very deep structures in the thorax. There also often seems to be some rotation of the vertebrae in the flat section.

F: Yes, sure, but practically, you should not look at the curve [in this case] What you should look for is length in the side of the rib cage. When you get more length there, the spine will curve out.

R: So in your view the depth of the curves is not nearly as important as these other considerations?

F: First you have to have length in the body. [2] Then you have to have ACMOTT [3] Then you start looking at the spine, at the directions of the curves, [4] then the transitions and [5] then at the degree of the curves. Something like this. I think [if you follow] this, you never have to look at the curve of the thoracic spine [per se]. You look at the rib cage, the shortness in there and then of course you also have rotations, so mainly what you need is more length and it will curve back out. It will go from too straight to more curved. You cannot say that there is an ideal curve. With some things you cannot exactly determine what is normal, because it is a quantitative matter. You cannot say what exactly would be the right degree of curve for the thoracics or the lumbers. Often you have too much curve. Then you need more length so that the curves become flatter. In the opposite case, in the thoracic spine there is no problem anyway. You try to get more length between the ribs and it will come back out.

In terms of ACMOTT, the whole back should really be concave. With the countercurve in the thorax we have a problem, because it doesn’t fit this simple model. But there is another important aspect to this. imagine [the arms being connected across the upper back by a sling of] fascia. [This sling] pulls on the thoracic curve when we lift something and flattens it out a little bit. [That in turn] lengthens the trunk.

This is only possible because there is this counter-curve in the thorax. If we had a straight thoracic spine the trunk would shorten during lifting. The design of the body is really marvelous [in this respect]. You hardly need any muscles, and you get a stretching effect rather than a jamming, when lifting.[:de]R: Please tell me about your life before becoming a Rolfer.

F: I was an MD, I studied [medicine] in Zurich, I did a year of residency, and then I was a GP for three years, but it was nothing definite, just passing time. And then I got into Rolfing.

R: So you got involved soon after starting to work as an MD?

F: Yes, I worked essentially four and a half years, one of them in the hospital. But I [was in] psychoanalysis at the time, one of the four-hours-a-week kind of things. I thought I was going into psychiatry for a long time; but it did not turn out that way.

I got into Rolfing when I visited a friend in California. I had a session there without knowing what it was. I didn’t even ask. Then I had a series in Munich, and became interested to learn more about it. I heard that one could audit, and I applied. They wrote back that I had to write a paper which I did in about three days. I was amazed because I had to show that I knew anatomy and physiology. So I did that, and went over to Berkeley.

I remember there was an [admissions] class, which surprised me, because I didn’t want to become a Rolfer. I just wanted to sit in and audit, which means you sit back, don’t disturb anybody, and pay your tuition. I didn’t understand why I had to pay that much.

It was a good time but I didn’t see anything structural, and I thought this was not for me. I decided I would go home and look around more, and I didn’t want to go through [admissions] after class. But they asked me to come in anyway. They persuaded me to give it another try. So it was kind of accidental that I continued.

R: What was your experience with the training itself?

F. One thing was the culture shock with Berkeley. I remember one incident when I lost my speech for an hour of two. I urgently needed to talk in German to someone. I grabbed Bill Smythe and talked to him in German for about 15 minutes, without him understanding anything; and I was okay again.

In class nothing much was done with the auditors. We just sat around and watched and listened to Michael Salveson’s lectures, which were great, only we didn’t learn much about structure.

Then I gave it a try for practitioning. I was in a bad stage of my life, so it was not such a good experience. The class was also pretty disruptive. It was taught by Jim Asher. It was chaotic, and I still didn’t see much and didn’t know what I was doing.

But then I gave it a try, back here with friends who wanted sessions; and then Dick Demmerle came over here and I kind of went along. And then later I became interested. I took some workshops, and we put an organization and workshops together here in Europe. After several years I felt it was time to really find out what I was doing. That was when a long process got started.

R: That was when you realized you needed to do your own research.

F: I did workshops with everybody and then I took the advanced class. That was pretty critical, because I felt cheated. I thought they should give me back the money. I didn’t learn anything. Talk in class was mainly about astrology and numerology. But I had a piece of metalearning there. I realized that if I wanted to find out what our work is about, I had to find out myself.

That’s how I started out, but I still thought I could find out things by getting those people who knew Rolfing to be more clear about it. So I started to ask questions. Later I realized of course that the function of these trainings is mainly psychological and ideological. The content was, strictly speaking, zero And what really got me for a time, was that I fell for it. For years I didn’t even ask the most sensible questions. The first thing one should ask is what is structure exactly? But that was never talked about in class.

All these trainings are really not trainings. In a real training you are methodically allowed to understand something. We would just do a little there and there, but we didn’t understand anything. I have the impression that most [Rolf Institute] classes serve as an initiation ritual. It is not really educational because there is no teaching content. So it is almost one hundred percent ritual, to prepare you for your function as a Rolfer, as in primitive societies.

R: You were trained about 17 years ago. Do you think anything has changed?

F: Not much as far as I know. It seems to be pretty much the same. There was some hope when the Institute split up, because the fundamentalist mythological faction left. There was hope that a more rational kind of inquiry would take place. But that doesn’t seem to have happened.

R: How was your personal experience with being Rolfed?

F: My personal experience of it was very good, it was helpful and felt good. But I was also interested because I felt that the idea behind all this was fascinating, that there was a structure, and that it could be changed in the direction of integration. Only what this direction was, that [is what] was never made clear in class. That was why I became more and more disappointed. And the idea that one should just keep working, and then one would “get it” didn’t turn out to be true.

But later I became interested again. At the time Dick Demmerle was working with me here in Zurich. When he did something you could see it, I could see it. He got the most dramatic changes I have ever seen. That was also depressing in a way, because I couldn’t get these changes. On the other hand this meant that apparently you could do something if you knew how. That was probably what made me stick with Rolfing.

A crucial point came at a six day with Jan Sultan, I think it was in 1983, after I took the advanced class. He made the statement that the femur could be rotated either externally or internally. I hooked onto that, and asked, how can we determine the direction of this rotation? Because I can rotate the femur however I want, but what is its preference structurally? That was what started the whole process, because that is something you should be able to determine. Before that it just looked like you couldn’t say anything.

Jan was also talking about pelvic tilt. The horizontal pelvis had always been this myth. In which way the pelvis was not horizontal was never even asked! One was supposed to just horizontalize it somehow.

I don’t know what Jan later made out of [the emerging theory]. Soon after that I started the “Notes” [on Structural Integration], and I kind of bullied him into writing about it. So what is in the first issue of the “Notes” is all I know about his views. That gave me a starting point to find out what the questions were.

R: In your Notes you don’t seem to give Jan a lot of credit for his role in developing the theory. Your views are based on his idea after all.

F: It was not a base, but it was a starting point. Jan was the most inquisitive of the Rolfers at the time. He was the only one who would even ask such questions. It started with him. Personally, it was disappointing for me that he never seemed to follow up on it. When I started working along this initial Internal/ External idea, questions turned up and I tried to answer them. I found some answers which led to other questions and other answers and concepts; but then I was all on my own and nobody responded, neither did Jan. I don’t know what he talks about these days.

It soon turned out that the original description of Internal/External bodies had nothing to do with the craniosacral rhythm. It could have been breathing or something else that started that orientation of the body in space. The question was how to determine the direction of orientation, internal or external rotation, anterior or posterior pelvic tilt. And of course the most important question, what is it that makes these differences in orientation important to us as Rolfers?

Obviously the answer is gravity. Because gravity acts differently on an anterior pelvis, then on a posterior pelvis. I brought this up, but nobody was interested. I asked Jan to rewrite his article on a higher level which would account for the new points of view, but he wasn’t interested either. So I did it myself which meant putting all these ideas on firm theoretical ground. Jan was very important at the start by igniting and asking questions, so l give him credit for that; but almost everything had to be reformulated, and he left me to do that.

R: You are saying that it became clear that internal/external has nothing to do with the craniosacral rhythm. I saw Jan use the rhythm to determine someone’s structural type at a workshop.

F: The question here was, how do you define two types? What are your key criteria? What Jan first used was the femurs, which I changed to the legs, because in Structural Integration we do not look at bones but at the whole body. Then I argued extensively that it makes more sense to look at the tilt of the pelvis as the primary criterion. Later I found that the saggital shift of the pelvis, which is much more variable and harder to determine, is a dually more basic than the tilt.

But the tilt was fine as a criterion. You don’t need craniosacral motion to determine this, you use gravity by applying a simple test. Gravity is specific to our field, so there is no reason to exclude such a simple method which allows us to determine the type. Of course you have to know how to apply the test correctly, because you need to consider saggital shift, which changes the tilt of the pelvis.

I agree with Ida Rolf that gravity is the basic consideration for our field. The way I go about these questions is what I call “radical orthodoxy”. I go back to the basic new insights Ida Rolf had and don’t look at what else there is in secondary opinions and so on. If I look at what is revolutionary about Ida Rolf, I see three ideas which she never really developed very much, but which did not exist before. One is the notion that the body has a structure; second, that the body is always in the gravitational field; and, third, that this structure can be changed in the direction of an improvement. Which means that you can also change it in the direction of disintegration! I took these three ideas from Ida Rolf and started from there, disregarding all the rest.

Radical new ideas always get mixed with conventional ones. They never stay pure. That’s the way we are. What people approve of what fits their experience, what is known to them, and the new ideas tend to get lost again. I hear that in Ida Rolf’s classes one could always say “gravity” or “fascia,” and that was always a good thing to say. These two things got lost. I hardly heard about them in class. There is a lot of talk about muscles and bones, which means going back to the days before Ida Rolf. In my theories I stuck to her idea that you have to consider gravity and fascia.

R: Don’t we often simply use the name of a muscle to specify the location we are talking about?

F: My experience has been that as soon as you use a muscle to name a location, you think “muscle” and you have left the structural field. In the “Notes” I always write something like “the fascia of the tensor” to make clear that it is not the muscle as an organ but connective tissue that I am talking about. As soon as you think “muscle” you think of something that contracts, and not of a tissue which carries tension. We have to keep our mind purposely in the structural field, otherwise it slips away into the conventional. It is hard, because fascia is much more elusive than muscles and bones, which are more clearly defined.

R: So you started with Ida Rolf’s revolutionary ideas. How did you proceed from there?

F: I left aside things like “waistline back”, “head on top”, the “psoas” as a muscle. My premise was, don’t think muscle, think fascia; don’t think about bones, think about connective tissue; don’t think about the part, think about the whole. Whenever a question comes up think about gravity first, then think about fascia, and then look what else you need. Usually you don’t need anything else.

It is difficult to stick with this though. The problem is that most Rolfers don’t know what gravity means. For me it was always a clearly defined physical term. I assume it was for Ida Rolf, since she had a PH.D. In biochemistry. She must have known what the center of gravity means exactly, and how gravity affects the body. But as far as I know, she never really examined how gravity affects the body in standing. Or how it affects that body if it [assumes a different postural stance].

For an engineer that is the first thing he would look at. A simple example: If the body is bent forward, gravity acts differently on it than if it is bent backward. That is the most basic question as far as gravity is concerned.

The problem with fascia is that we need much more abstract models to understand it. Bones and muscles are also models, but they are closer to our experience. The fascial net is something we don’t have direct access to. In order to explain the effects of gravity on fascia, we need these very abstract models like the block model and, what turned out to be very useful, is the hydrostatic balloon model. But that [model] is not something simple, and doesn’t resemble a body very much. There are no bones and no muscles [in that model].

R: You think this is the reason why your theories are not widely understood or accepted in the Rolfing community?

F: The field of Structural Integration is more demanding than the field of anatomy. SI is a less sensuous experience. It is much more abstract, like physics. Nobody likes physics. I don’t like it myself, because it is so abstract. It expresses extremely abstract concepts for very concrete things, and that is something we don’t like.

But I don’t think that is the main reason for my ideas being rejected. Rolfers are usually intelligent, so it is not a question of intelligence. In the end it is a psychological question. Because when you start looking at gravity and the fascial net with these models, you [do] come to a position where you can make clear statements. In the end we will be able to say this is structural integration and this is not structural integration, [or in contrast] structural disintegration. This is what nobody wants [in the Institute].

I remember in class I only got approving comments for what I did or said, although I never really knew what I was doing. The teacher convinced me that I was doing something good, which was nice from a human standpoint. I needed it at the time. But I never heard anybody say, “no, that is not working because of this and this.” And nobody could tell me this is good because of that and that.

R: My experience was similar. It would baffle me that I never heard an instructor say, “oh, that didn’t work,” or “this time we didn’t get the desired change.” One would expend that to happen in a situation where people are trying to learn a skill.

F: That is very nice [for the Students] of course, but it is very much in the service of avoiding conflict. In the end I had to understand this as a kind of collective psycho-pathology in the Institute, which is a pity. If it were just because these theories are difficult, we could make it simpler with time. Twenty years from now, I’m going to be able to write a textbook about these things that anybody can understand. Because by then, things will be in place.

When you [first] learn something, everything is complicated. Once you have mastered it, it becomes simple. When fan and I started with this inquiry we knew nothing. There was no definition of structure, not even the question of what structure or it’s integration was.

In an established field you have definitions and concepts and you juggle them around, and relate them in new ways to find new knowledge. Our field had to be generated first, which means a lot of definitions and models and errors and vagueness of course, and that makes it very complicated.

R: I would like to talk a little about other people’s ideas. What do you think about the “Principles of Rolfing” according to Maitland and Sultan?

F: I was outraged, I felt almost insulted when I first heard about [the “Principles”] several years ago. There was no content that one could talk about. It is insulting to spell out a sentence like: “A follows B.” and then “C follows D,” and then … nothing.

When I say A follows B. I first define A, and then B. and then I try to prove that it is true. But there was none of that. It was just statements like A follows B. period. That has nothing to do with rational thinking.

The point is that if you make such a statement, and you contend it is true, you should show that it is true. Otherwise it is worthless.

As soon as you say something is true, that makes other things false. You make a statement and then, as in all fields of rational law, you want to prove it. You want to know if it is true or false. If you try to do that in the Rolf Institute everybody throws up their hands and says, ‘oh no, we don’t want all that again”! Apparently there were fights before my time. Nobody wants to argue about these things. The sad thing is that we have all the fighting and aggression going on anyway, but we have nothing to show for it! If we had fought about content at least we would have something.

R: What do you think about Jan Sultan’s notion of “lines of transmission?”

F: I think that expression is a misnomer. The question is, what is being transmitted? In his article [in Notes on Structural Integration] he says it is kinetic energy; which is not possible. Kinetic energy cannot be transmitted in the body in this way.

I interpreted it differently, as lines of compression. In the case of a tower for example, engineers talk about tensile and compressional stress. It is again gravity, which produces strain, which results in stress. What is important about this is that, if you have a pelvis with an anterior tilt, you have compression in front; with a posterior tilt you have compression in back.

R: Why are you only thinking of lines of compression and not of both tension and compression?

F: If a solid structure is bent you get compressional strain on the concave side and tensile strain on the convex side. Since we are not made of wood or iron, we cannot use that model very well, because usually we don’t have tensile stress in that sense. In a body, the compressed side will usually collapse, and not hold up, and therefore, we don’t have tensile stress on the convex side.

The exception is ACMOTT [Anterior Convex Mid-line Of The Trunk]. If the trunk is in ACMOTT you have compression of the posterior wall of the trunk, and you have tensile stress in front, which I describe in the “Notes.”

(Hans Flury explains his concept of ACMOTT in the following manner (paraphrasing): Ideally, the mid-line of the trunk in the side view would be straight. It could then be vertical in erect posture with the weight distributed evenly all around.

In reality, however, nothing is ever exactly straight. The direction of deviation must therefore be taken into consideration. Since the spinal column provides reinforcement against collapse in the back wall of the trunk, it is favorable to approach the ideal of the straight mid-line from an anterior convex deviation, or ACMOTT, and not from the posterior convex (POCMOTT), or a shaped one. For a detailed explanation of these concepts, including illustrations, I refer to Notes on Structural Integration 92/93, pp. 37-43. – H.R.)

R: I hear Gael Ohlgren and David Clark submitted their paper on natural walking to you for publication in the “Notes”. Why did you reject it?

F: Actually Michael Salveson sent it to me for review, because he wanted me to give a talk on walking at an annual meeting. It was not intended for “Notes.” My main criticism was that it was not structural, but kinesiological in nature. Apparently that did not go down well.

If you use kinesiological concepts you will, perhaps, get beautiful kinesiological answers to kinesiological questions. I know now by experience that, if you use muscles and bones to describe your theory, you will not arrive at structural answers to structural questions. What Gael Ohlgren and David Clark did was probably better kinesiology. But it was not [related to] Structural Integration, and therefore it is not interesting for us.

It would be possible to take a concept from another field, translate it into our concepts, and it might help to find something new. But first you have to translate things, like a language. This is what I tried to do with the theory of craniosacral motion. I translated it into structural terms, which meant, for instance, to include gravity, which is not part of cranio-sacral theory.

The motion of the sacrum [in its subtle cranio-sacral rhythm] doesn’t mean anything in terms of gravity. [Rather] the pelvis [as a whole] also has some motion as part of the cranio-sacral cycle, and [in that respect|, gravity acts differently on pelvis with different orientation in space. So this whole theory was translated into structural concepts and gives new answers and new meaning.

This was my criticism with the Ohlgren/Clark paper. Of course I have my own theory of normal walking in structural terms. Their question of how the femur rotates in walking is not very relevant because, what does it have to do with gravity? What does it have to do with the fascial net? And what does it have to do with economy, which for me is the basic premise of the field? From a structural point of view it doesn’t give you any answers.

R: What is your opinion on Rolfing Movement integration?

F: I don’t know what it is. There is no description, no theory and nothing published as far as I know. When I was on the board, there was a fight between the “old movement” and the “new movement,” as they were called. Because I didn’t know what either was about, I suggested that they put something down in writing so we would know what they were fighting about, but that of course never happened.

R: Have you ever taken a movement class?

F: I had movement sessions, but that was back in 1978. I think everybody did more or less what they wanted, a kind of self experience. Which is fine, but it has nothing to do with Structural integration. Self experience may be used as a tool, but what we are looking for is the most economical function. At least according to the theory as far as it exists.

There are a number of different kinds of movement from different people like Hubert Godard, Roger Pierce, Duggan/French, but I don’t really know any of the systems.

If you want to see which movement is most economical, you have to consider gravity, you have to consider the forces that are involved; and you have to know exactly how this movement looks in space. You need a description to be able to make an assessment. But these descriptions aren’t there, except for Normal Function which is based on describing exactly the movement in space, so one can asses how forces act on the body.

R: Movement teachers do talk about economy of movement sometimes.

F: The problem is they don’t use the term in the same sense. When I say economy, I mean physical economy, as in joules per minute. You cannot say, for example, something feels more economical, because it is hard to feel the difference if it is not big. You cannot go with what people feel. They may say it feels easy, but that is not the same as economical. Actually in Normal Function, people often feel it is not easy.

R: Is this the dividing line between your and other people’s movement systems, that for you economy is the defining criteria, whereas others would argue that there are a lot of other criteria?

F: From a human standpoint there are lots of others, and lots that are more important. Economy is not an important thing in itself. The whole thing comes from a different question, namely, why did Ida Rolf define normal structure as normal? Here we come back to the question of, what do we mean by structure7, what do we mean by integration? The core of the concept is normal structure We can say that if we change structure in the direction of normal structure, we probably have integration. If we change it away from normal structure we have disintegration.

R: So you think Ida Rolf described normal structure because she thought that with that kind of structure, function would be more economical? I often hear she believed that having normal structure will advance a human being on many levels.

F: The first question is, what is normal structure anyway? How is it defined? Ida Rolf never defined anything clearly. Except, in her book she gives one definition of normal structure, which states that in normal structure the centers of gravity of all the segments are Gned up exactly vertically and, in addition, there is no rotation and no tilt of the segments. She uses the block model to define normal structure. This also means that if the centers of gravity are not exactly aligned, structure is not normal.

The problem with this definition is that it doesn’t define structure, but an arrangement of the body in space. So if you would hold yourself [posturally] in that exact arrangement, it would look like normal structure, but as soon as you let go, it would of course fall apart. So we have to add to the definition that such a vertical arrangement would be normal structure, if no effort is needed to maintain it.

This means we have to take structure and function apart. The fad that they are usually not clearly kept apart, or even defined at all, is at the base of all this confusion [within the Rolf Institute]. This is one of the things I was working toward in the “Notes” over the years. It was a long and difficult process.

So when structure is defined in the above-mentioned way, [we can ask], why should that be normal? As an example let us look at the famous horizontal pelvis. No tilt, no rotation and aligned exactly vertically would be normal structure. If it just is that way, i.e. not functional[by held].

Why should this horizontal pelvis be normal and not an anterior tilt of say 5^0?1 think Ida Rolf argued that the design of the body demands it, which is not a logical argument. So, can we find a premise that says the horizontal pelvis is normal and every pelvis which has a tilt is not normal?

The only logical answer I can find is that a horizontal pelvis is more economical You don’t need to hold it, it stands all by itself in labile balance. As soon as you have an even microscopic tilt you have to hold it up,or it falls down. Only if it were exactly horizontal, which is not possible, would it require no energy to stay the way it is. The same principle applies to all the centers of gravity of the different body segments.

This is how I identified the “economical” premise for Structural Integration. If economy is the principal criteria, then the structure Ida Rolf indicated as normal is the best, and should be called normal.

You could of course say that a horizontal pelvis is also healthy. But from the viewpoint of health you could have many possible degrees of tilt which are all in the range of “health.”

R: The same seems true for states of consciousness or psychological states.

F: Yes. You cannot say that a slight tilt of the pelvis makes a difference in your state of consciousness. At least you cannot demonstrate it. But with the economical premise you can.

R: Rolfers often talk about “ease” and “lift” and there is the vague idea that these phenomena stem from horizontality of the pelvis, for example. What do you think about this?

F: Ida Rolf frequently used the term “ease.” It is a vague term and can mean many things, among others it can mean economical. If something requires less effort, it is easier than something that requires more effort.

But usually when people say it is easy, they mean it is easy for the mind, for the brain, it is easy to regulate [by the nervous system]. But that is always less easy physically. The easier you want to function physically, the more you have to involve your regulatory systems because [that kind of movement] is more sophisticated. There is a conflict here; and, therefore, you need to know what you mean by”easy.”

In her book, Ida Rolf defines Rolfing as a physical method for producing better human functioning. For one thing, this says that it is a method in the service of function, and not something in itself.

Then you have to define what is meant by better human functioning, which could be a number of different things. But, I think on the level of the body, she meant economical functioning. As defined in the “Notes on Structural Integration,” function means movement and posture, because standing is also function~ and not structure.

R: This distinction is never made in Rolfing classes. At least not in the ones I attended. There is, for example, practically no attempt at distinguishing between different kinds of [postural] stance a person can assume.

F: This is because structure and function are never kept apart clearly.

When I first developed my theory of structure, function, stance and so on, I used the concept of the Structural Point [see Notes 1991]; i.e. it takes the least amount of energy to stand a certain way, which is different from person to person, because of their different structures. Now that is not so important anymore [in my theory].

Now [at this point in the development of the theory], we can say that for practically all people, it is most economical to stand in minimal folding, i.e. the zig-zag-line is almost straight, and that ACMOTT is practically straight. Most people don’t find it easy to stand that way because they have to watch [constantly] that they don’t contract muscles, since this disturbs the arrangement. They feel that they are grounded though.

The term “easy” has many other connotations, like, “it feels good, it is loose,” etc. Often in most economical Normal Function one feels a lot of passive tension in the fascia. That is what gives you the economy because you need fewer muscles, but it feels like tension, and therefore not necessarily easy. That is why I don’t accept “easy” as economical.

In my practice I show people how their habitual stances feel more comfortable to them, but that minimal folding is more grounded, and takes less energy. But, it takes a lot more concentration, and they should not stand like that all the time. It is just information which sometimes becomes really useful, for example if they walk or carry something.

I need to show this to people, so [I can assess Structural Integration]. By now, we can say in short, that you have integrated structure when it can do Normal Function when it couldn’t do it before, or when it can do it better than before. [That’s] because, Rolfing is a physical method for producing better human functioning; and when you interpret that as “more economical functioning,” you have to change the structure so that the body can function more economically than before.

You have to make sure though, that the client was at his optimum [i.e. using only the minimum amount of muscle tension necessary for that particular function] when you assess his structure [before an intervention]. Only then can you say [that the change you observe after the intervention] was structural.

You cannot easily use a test like that in practice though. It is more like a mental image that helps you remember what you are doing. You have to keep that in mind, and know that is how you could assess things absolutely. But you don’t do that with people. It doesn’t work like that because people cannot do a movement exactly the same way before and after.

It is a common human mistake to try to take what you think [should be,] into reality. One should always keep that apart. In practice you work more by observing and seeing, [in order to see if j you got a little bit of change in the direction of integration. If you are clear in your mind about what you want to do you can see that.

R: In your “Notes” you talk about the possibility of using Normal Function to assess a Rolfer’s work. What you just said seems to contradict that.

F: As I said [earlier], you could design tests like that, but don’t put them into reality. For example if you design a test for normal sitting and you keep working and testing to improve that function, you would possibly disintegrate the client from another point of view.

What we do in Rolfing is, essentially, softening fascia. So you really would only test the softness, but not the integrity of the fascial net. Softer is not always better. If you make someone more mobile, that doesn’t mean you integrated him. Fascia has the function of holding the body.

When you go into folding for example, your body is really held by tensed fascia, instead of muscles. That is why it is the most economical way of moving. Now if you soften the fascia they can hold the body less and you need more muscles again. So if you improve normal sitting more and more you can, in principle, disintegrate the body, because it will need more muscles to do other things. Like standing for example, where you don’t need that much length or softness in the extensor sling. You always have to keep a lot of different factors in mind.

R: You are essentially looking for a compromise between different aspects of integration.

F: Look for it, but don’t [expect to] find it! Because finding it would mean optimizing say a hundred different factors, or maybe a thousand, I don’t know. And you can never do that. Maybe you can optimize two or three. But what about the other ten, which also play a role? You can never reach your goal. There is always something else which you have to consider.

That doesn’t make what you just considered wrong. From that point of view it looks that way, but from another point of view you have to consider something else. You do something, and it is a little better. Then you go somewhere else, look from another point of view at the body, and do something for that. You may find it exciting that you [saw something change], but don’t get stuck. In our minds we have to have simple concepts to understand things, but reality is not that simple. We have to isolate aspects, and look at them one at a time. And then put that aside and look at another aspect. But don’t try to find a compromise between the two. Just leave it [at that].

If you have enough points of view which are isolated and defined so you can understand them, and look for still others, you start to cover the whole body better and better, and you forget less. That’s why we need more development of the whole theory. It will probably turn out that there is a kind of hierarchy, meaning some aspects are more important than others. In 20 years from now, when we know more about structure, we will also know which are the three most important ones and the next five ones, etc., so that we can work in that order. But that will take a lot of development. With time we will get a more complete picture, but it will always be somewhat fragmented.

R: How do you decide then, when you have done enough? When is a Rolfing series completed for you?

F: I have tried going fast, and doing lots of sessions beyond ten. My experience was that when I go on after ten I can get more change, but it sort of starts to “swim.” The changes don’t stay and so there is no sense in getting it to swim more. You can do too much.

We cannot harden tissue, we can only soften it. Shortness has two aspects. [1] It is resistance to functioning more freely and perhaps more normally, and [2] it is also support for the body. So if you start taking that support away, you free the body, but you have to be careful not to take too much support [in the form of shortness] away. This inevitably happens when you go on working. I found that even with really tough guys, when working weekly, after 12 or 13 sessions it starts to go bad. What you need then is Normal Function. That is why I stop early, especially with people who are fairly soft. With them I sometimes do only five sessions, or I work only half an hour and the rest of the session is movement. People would feel good after more work but not for long.

R: I’d like to discuss some specific aspeds of your theory. With regard to ACMOTT the question of internal dynamics of the thorax comes up. In inhalation, support from the inside is much better and the front lengthens, whereas in exhalation the thorax tends to collapse, especially with internals. It is therefore easy to have ACMOTT in inhalation, but in exhalation it seems that selective muscle tension is necessary to stay Bred. What do you think about this?

F: I you really have ACMOTT, the trunk is stabilized by gravity, and any muscle activity disturbs the arrangement, because it compresses the trunk. But the fact is that most people cannot really have ACMOTT. In Folding, the more you bend forward the clearer you get ACMOTT. The more you,come up to standing the more difficult it gets.

If you don’t have ACMOTT, but in inspiration you go in the direction of ACMOTT, you can say that is Normal Function. Away from it would not be Normal Function.

R: It is clear to me that you can have ACMOTT with relaxing ail muscles in the trunk in sitting, and also in standing if you support yourself with your arms, like when you are rolfing, for example.

But if you go from standing into Folding, the relaxation of muscles has to be selective to keep ACMOTT intact. If you relax all your erector spinae muscles completely, you would go into POCMOTT [Posterior Convex Mid-line Of The Trunk], as you do when you have reached maximal hip flexion in Folding, and you want to touch the floor with your hands. This reversing of ACMOTT is not achieved by active flexion, but by additional relaxation of extensor muscles. In my experience, in Folding, I can relax everything in front and my mid-line stays long, but in back I need some muscle tension to maintain ACMOTT.

F: I [see your point], and, maybe we have to introduce some muscles after all. I formulated the theory in relatively absolute terms. I was also a little provocative of course, because I would like somebody to show me that you really do need some muscles. I take one side of the argument, and you prove to me the other side.

I am interested in economy, so I try to find a kind of movement or position where I need as little muscle tension as possible, preferably zero. If I can do that, fine. If, in the end, I do need some active muscle tension, okay, but I would like somebody else to show me, because I am not so interested in that [per se]. ACMOTT is normal not because it takes zero muscles tension, but because it takes less than POCMOTT.

R: The concept of ACMOTT requires that the thoracic spine is relatively flat. I often observe a spine that has the appearance of being very straight in the area between the scapulae, and there is often a lack of front/back dimension between spine and sternum. It seems these clients would benefit from more curvature in the thoracic spine rather than less. Has this conflict ever come up for you?

F: The spine does not exist, really [in a structural sense]. But let?s take “time out” and look at the spine. There seems to be a hierarchy of what to look at. First you look at the physiological curves. They must be present. If you have a reversed curve you are way off, anyway. So you try to get the proper physiological curves if you can. Second, you look for the right transition points where the curve changes in the other direction. Are the transition points too high, too low? Only the third consideration is the depth of the curves. Usually when you get the first two you have the maximum you can get.

Now let’s not look at the spine anymore, but at structural things. Let’s look at the back. The back is the back wall of the trunk. How can it happen that the back wall is too straight or flat or even dented in so that the curve seems reversed? This can only happen by contraction of the back musculature. It can not happen by gravity.

R: Not by gravity, but by contraction of very deep structures in the thorax. There also often seems to be some rotation of the vertebrae in the flat section.

F: Yes, sure, but practically, you should not look at the curve [in this case] What you should look for is length in the side of the rib cage. When you get more length there, the spine will curve out.

R: So in your view the depth of the curves is not nearly as important as these other considerations?

F: First you have to have length in the body. [2] Then you have to have ACMOTT [3] Then you start looking at the spine, at the directions of the curves, [4] then the transitions and [5] then at the degree of the curves. Something like this. I think [if you follow] this, you never have to look at the curve of the thoracic spine [per se]. You look at the rib cage, the shortness in there and then of course you also have rotations, so mainly what you need is more length and it will curve back out. It will go from too straight to more curved. You cannot say that there is an ideal curve. With some things you cannot exactly determine what is normal, because it is a quantitative matter. You cannot say what exactly would be the right degree of curve for the thoracics or the lumbers. Often you have too much curve. Then you need more length so that the curves become flatter. In the opposite case, in the thoracic spine there is no problem anyway. You try to get more length between the ribs and it will come back out.

In terms of ACMOTT, the whole back should really be concave. With the countercurve in the thorax we have a problem, because it doesn’t fit this simple model. But there is another important aspect to this. imagine [the arms being connected across the upper back by a sling of] fascia. [This sling] pulls on the thoracic curve when we lift something and flattens it out a little bit. [That in turn] lengthens the trunk.

This is only possible because there is this counter-curve in the thorax. If we had a straight thoracic spine the trunk would shorten during lifting. The design of the body is really marvelous [in this respect]. You hardly need any muscles, and you get a stretching effect rather than a jamming, when lifting.

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