By Stella Weigel
The King’s Speech, based on events from the life of King George VI of England, has taken the world of cinema by storm. The film shows “Bertie” struggle to overcome his stammer and find his voice, in order to rally the free world to resist Nazi aggression. The film illustrates how a “need to be right” can have crippling effects on speech and deed.
Bertie’s father has the highest expectations of his son, as does an entire nation. Lionel Logue, an expert in speech disorders, encouragers Bertie. He is able, with some pushing, prodding, and a little manipulation, to help Bertie break through some of the habitual defences that he has used to suppress himself, and suppress his voice. When Bertie starts to own his authority as a man, he starts to become the leader that his country needs.
Alexander understood that the “need to be right” was a root cause in many of our troubles. In fact in many ways, Bertie is no different from Alexander’s golfer who cannot keep his eye on the ball, or the stutterer (both found in The Use of the Self), or you, or I.
The pupil attempts to please the teacher, and becomes, therefore, nearly un-teachable. The teacher is not able to provide an improved “means whereby.” And the pupil tries harder and harder to correct himself, “to be right.” This circle of failure leads to a loss of self-confidence and to a renewed fear of always being “wrong.”
Alexander Technique lessons encourage us to go out of our comfort zone and be willing to be “wrong.” We will most certainly be wrong, since from the outset we have faulty habitual use, and faulty kinaesthesia. The lessons help us tolerate being wrong, as we stop, reconsider and perhaps choose a new direction governed not by habit, or how others think we ought to be, but how we wish to be.
Guest Blogger, Stella Weigel, is an Alexander Technique student at The Constructive Teaching Centre, London, the world’s oldest and largest Alexander Technique training school. She had Alexander Technique lessons from 2006-2009 before embarking on her training in April 2009. She lives in the city of London.