F. Matthias Alexander’s lost “Fifth Book”

Conscious Control in Relation to Human Evolution in Civilization by F. Matthias Alexander.

I suspect this title (I’ll shorten in to CC) seems vaguely familiar to most Alexander Technique teachers and serious students because of it’s similarity to Constructive Conscious Control (CCC), Alexander’s second book.  But this book was published much earlier, in 1912, very soon after the original version of Man’s Supreme Inheritance (MSI) appeared.  Indeed  CC is a sort of bridge between the two.*

It’s also surprisingly readable.  As Richard Brennan, an Alexander Technique teacher in Ireland notes, it’s a book one could give to a new student who wants to get an idea of what Alexander’s work is all about.  “It is probably the simplest and most easy-to-follow of all his books” writes Richard.

For reasons not totally understood, the book had only one limited print run and has been largely forgotten for over a century.  But thanks to a chance encounter Richard had with a student on one of his workshops in Tobago, it is now back in print and can be ordered from this page on Richard’s site: http://www.alexander.ie/fm_books.html

Here’s a little more about the book from Richard’s site:

In this book Alexander methodically sets out his claim for his method, and then backs this up with his reasons for standing by that claim. He also includes some case studies to back it up. It is a very clear description of the method devised, which he calls ‘Conscious Control’.

He discusses various topics such as:

  • breathing and physical exercises
  • the cause of physical degeneration
  • chronic indigestion
  • means-whereby and end-gaining
  • increasing powers of resistance against disease
  • correcting harmful mental habits

The book includes some general notes and case studies.

Here’s an interview for the Alexander Technique Podcast I did with Richard about the book:


If you order the book from Richard, email him from his site at the same time letting him know you learned about it from this blog, or from the podcast, and he’ll include a free Constructive Rest CD!  (Offer good only until December 31, 2015.)

*You can order Alexander’s four books at the Alexander Technique Bookstore


F. Matthias Alexander’s lost “Fifth Book” — 1 Comment

  1. It is not really “lost”. When Dutton published the American edition of “Man’s Supreme Inheritance” in 1918 they expanded it to include Conscious Control.

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