Feldenkrais And The Insanity of Normality: Arno Gruen

Dr. Arno Gruen
This is a post to share with you and remind myself to post more about Dr. Gruen and his two books The Insanity of Normality and The Betrayal of the Self: The Fear of Autonomy in Men and Women.

Dr. Gruen knew Moshe and Gruen's book, The Betrayal of the Self, there is a wonderful story of a workshop that Feldenkrais taught to a group of medical doctors and psychologists and such at the Munich University Hospital in 1979.

Have you heard about the workshop or read a description of it? I would love to talk to anyone who was there and who has more information about it.

According to Dr. Gruen:

"In two days, Feldenkrais brought a group of approximately one hundred specialists (doctors, psychologists, physical therapists) to the point of gaining control over their motility to such an extent that, sitting on the floor and pivoting in only one direction, they were able to encompass a visual angle of 360°. Our movements had been stemming from abstract concepts we have about the kind of actions possible for us, Feldenkrais enabled us to be so in harmony with our body that we could modify these movements once he reunited us with the bodily self from which we had become alienated.


I especially like Gruen's insightful observation of how Feldenkrais was helping participants turn abstract concepts "about" movement into concrete experiences "of" movement.

Though helping people begin to experience their own potential can have drawbacks! Gruen writes,

"I report this episode because immediately after our experience of liberation, general dissatisfaction broke out in the workshop group. Participants became critical of Feldenkrais, directing anger and aggression toward him. It was as though the sudden freedom itself had produced disquiet and anxiety.

Gruen mentions Feldenkrais and his ideas in order to speak to his own thesis about developing spontaneity and awareness in human beings. His work is brilliant, if a bit emotionally painful to read at times.