|Manipulative and body-based methods - edit|
Rolfing is a form of alternative medicine devised by Ida P. Rolf (1896–1979). It is delivered as a series of sometimes painful hands-on physical manipulation sessions rooted in Rolf's ideas about how the human body's "energy field" can benefit when the body is aligned with the earth's gravitation field. Rolfing is the most publicly known brand of Structural Integration and is essentially identical to it.
There is no good evidence that Rolfing is effective for the treatment of any health condition. It is recognized as a pseudoscience, and has been characterized as quackery. Neither practitioners nor consumers of rolfing have any good evidence upon which to conclude that rolfing is either safe or cost-effective.
Rolfing is based on the proposition that "a human is basically an energy field operating in the greater energy of the earth". In practical terms, Rolfing is delivered as a type of hands-on physical manipulation attempting to align the body in the earth's gravity. Rolf said that
Rolfing also incorporates a number of ideas from other areas including osteopathy, (including cranial osteopathy), yoga, and Alfred Korzybski's general semantics. The Rolfing Institute describes Rolfing as "a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body."
The manipulation is sometimes referred to as a type of bodywork, or as a type of massage. The massage tradition has drawn significantly from Rolfing, with some of Ida Rolf's students leaving to become prominent teachers of massage.
Rolfing is typically performed in a progression of 10 sessions, sometimes called "the recipe", which is claimed to provide a systematic approach to achieving body alignment. Rolfers claimed that the human body contains a layer of tissue that interconnects every organ. Rolfers manipulate this supposed layer until they believe it is operating optimally. The manipulation process can be painful. In addition to physical manipulation of tissue, Rolfing uses a combination of active and passive movement retraining.
Rolf claimed to have found an association between emotions and the soft tissue, writing that rolfing is an "approach to the personality through the myofascial collagen components of the physical body". Rolf claimed that rolfing could balance the mental and emotional aspects of subjects, and that rolfees had shown "amazing psychological changes". Rolfers say that their manipulations can cause the release of painful repressed memories. Rolfers also hold that by manipulating the body they can bring about changes in personality so that, for example, teaching somebody to walk purposefully will make them a more purposeful person. The connection between physical structure and psychology has not been proven by scientific studies.
History and development
Ida Pauline Rolf began working on clients in New York in the 1940s with the premise that the human structure could be organized "in relation to gravity". She developed structural integration with one of hers sons and by the 1950s she was teaching her work across the United States. In the mid-1960s she began teaching at Esalen Institute, where she gathered a loyal following of students and practitioners. Esalen was the epicenter of the Human Potential Movement, allowing Rolf to exchange ideas with many of their leaders, including Fritz Perls. In 1971 she founded the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. The school has been based in Boulder, Colorado since 1972.
In addition to the Rolf Institute, whose graduates can use the term "Certified Rolfer", a number of other schools of Structural Integration certify "Practitioners of the Rolf Method of Structural Integration". A professional membership organization exists called the International Association of Structural Integration. These schools include the Guild for Structural Integration, Hellerwork Structural Integration, Aston Patterning, SOMA, KMI, and over a dozen other Structural Integration schools.
Effectiveness and reception
In 2015 the Australian Government's Department of Health published a review of 17 alternative therapies including Rolfing which concluded no clear evidence of effectiveness was found. The lack of available evidence means that both health providers and consumers are also unable to determine the "safety, quality and cost-effectiveness".
Medical historian Barbara Clow writes that in common with many other types of alternative medicine, rolfing takes a view of illness and of therapy which contradicts mainstream medical opinion. Because of its dependence on vitalistic concepts and its unevidenced propositions about the connection between physical manipulation and psychology, rolfing is classified as a pseudoscience.
In 2010 the New York Times reported that rolfing was enjoying a "resurgence" following an endorsement from Dr Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Biologist Dan Agin has identified rolfing as a popular kind of "quack medicine" in the "raucous bazaar" of the United States's alternative medicine scene, health journalist Rose Shapiro lists rolfing among the many popular "quack treatments" that rally today under the banner of integrative medicine, and skeptic Robert Todd Carroll has said that the vague health claims made by rolfers are characteristic of those made by "quacks".
- Alternative medicine
- Bodywork (alternative medicine)
- Manual therapy
- Mind–body interventions
- Posture (psychology)
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Rolfers make a life study of relating bodies and their fields to the earth and its gravity field, and we so organize the body that the gravity field can reinforce the body's energy field. This is our primary concept.
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The theory behind the method states that memories of physical as well as emotional traumas can be activated in the process.
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