BACKGROUND OF THE DISCIPLINE

Thomas Hanna, Ph.D., founder of The Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training, developed definitive, new methods for eradicating pain and improving mobility, based on the brain's ability to learn new patterns of muscular control. He called this emerging discipline, clinical somatic education, where "somatic" means "the body experienced and controlled from within."

In years previous, as chairman of the Department of Philosophy of The University of Florida at Gainesville, Dr. Hanna had a passionate interest in the nature of authentic human freedom that went beyond mere academic or intellectual concerns. He was interested in freedom -- and its loss -- in life. He saw that the loss of freedom had as much to do with people's mental and physical adaptations to stress, injury, and the shocks of life as it did with political environments.

His investigations led to contact with many prominent individuals in the field of human development: Margaret Mead, Norman O. Brown, Ida P. Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and others, individuals featured in his book, Explorers of Humankind1.

He was particularly captivated by the practical potential of Feldenkrais' work, Functional Integration, and eventually brought Feldenkrais to the U.S.A., directed Feldenkrais' first training, there, and enrolled as a student in that training.

In his years of practice of Feldenkrais' methods, Dr. Hanna made discoveries of his own that extended the reach of Feldenkrais' work until the techniques he developed on the basis of those discoveries exceeded the scope of Feldenkrais' teaching. A new name was warranted.

Dr. Hanna at first sought to name his development of the work simply, "Somatic Education," but as the term could not be registered under trademark laws, he added his name to the designation: (AUDIO LINK:) Hanna Somatic Education ® .

In his writings, Dr. Hanna (:bio) defined the field of somatics and outlined its specific features and broad operating principles. His own contribution to the field is a means of bringing relief from certain musculo-skeletal ailments (e.g., pain and stiffness, numbness, back trouble, regional muscular illnesses, impaired movement) and certain stress-related disorders (e.g., headache). By means of a self-regulated training process, clients rapidly get free of ailments (of the type indicated) and so regain or improve those certain freedoms properly enjoyed by every individual: freedom of movement in comfort and efficient use of their own energy and faculties. The procedures cause improvements of many conditions unsuccessfully treated by orthodox and alternative medical and therapeutic interventions, conditions that defy understanding by common, "body as marvelous machine" models of illness and treatment, but which become easily understandable and correctable when considered in light of a new, "body as an adaptive, self-aware process" model of illness and health, as you will see from the articles contained herein.

1Explorers of Humankind, Thomas Hanna (ed.). San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.

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