When Feldenkrais Got Mean

Moshe Feldenkrais, Narcissism and Sociopathy.

"Regardless of how much I love the work and think that it can be a useful tool for development, my basic take on Feldenkrais (the man) is that he was fairly high on the traits of narcissism and sociopathy. I don't necessarily mean that as a criticism. Perhaps it was necessary for him in order to develop his work and be so single-minded."

"Even so, Moshe's way of talking to his students in the Amherst and the San Francisco trainings is offputting, to say the least. He would call them idiots and idiotic and would use the same word to describe other people and other modalities.

The quotes above are me writing to a friend in a personal email exchange in early 2022, where I mentioned some thoughts on Feldenkrais and his less-than-ideal way of speaking.

To give you a few examples:

"First, you do an idiotic thing and then you meditate." From Feldenkrais On Meditation
"Alexander was an idiot who had one good idea." From Moshe's Use Of The Word Idiot.
"Do it until it hurts, do it like an idiot."

And I think it is important to note, that some of Moshe's direct students are still using the same kind of language towards students and colleagues. Below is a small part of a Facebook conversation where multiple people were calling me an idiot:

"Ryan Nagy has no respect for the feelings of others, not myself or the memory of Moshe, and repeatedly puts this abomination of photoshop on the internet. Those of you who find his actions humorous are also idiots and are only encouraging him in his mentally deranged actions" Jerry Karzen, "Senior" Feldenkrais Trainer.

To which Feldenkrais Trainer, Angel DeBeneditto (whom I have never met) replied, "Ryan is not an idiot, he is idiotic."

This is just a warning to be careful.

I get how some people do not appreciate how I express myself and what I put on my blog and Facebook page sometime.

I really do.

But the acting out and the abusive language needs to stop.

I love teaching and sharing Feldenkrais-based ideas. I think the work is wonderful and it has great potential. And I am hoping at some point with a bit of self-care and awareness it can become a community, built on shared values and openness.


Note: I reached out to Jerry Karzen via email with a link to this blog post. I also sent an email to Elinor Silverstein who was involved in the Facebook posting above. Neither one has replied.