Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Through fresh eyes

Bob Dent is a long-term British resident in Budapest. He is also a journalist, and has written a particular line in books about Budapest that intertwine the topographical with the historical. Since the late eighties he has also enjoyed a particular personal view into the Pető Institute.

This week's issue of the English-language newspaper, the Budapest Times, carries Bob Dent's one-page review article of the recently published book András Pető:

His review commences with a brief story-so-far of development of foreign interest in the Pető Institute (particularly the crucial British interest that kicked of the whole international CE phenomenon).

Incidentally, it seems worth remarking that this is a sounder account than one can often read in the 'CE literature' (though I would question the widely repeated myth that there is an 'institute' in Japan).

The review continues with a brief critical look at what is presently knowable about András Pető and his life. Again, critical questioning is not a common explicit feature of what one may read on this from within Conductive Education itself. And of course he asks the inevitable risky question that jumps out immediately to every thinking outside observer –
Paradox seems to surround Pető. His unorthodox approach was launched and took off during Hungary’s most hard-line Stalinist period, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Did he have connections or even sympathy with the ruling party? After all, it was a period when orthodoxies ruled, so it’s odd that a man such as András Pető, who appears to have been attracted more by Buddhism than Marxism, was tolerated and even assisted by some of the people in power. Or was it 'simply' that some of them had been successfully treated by him?
As one of the compilers/editors of this book I hope that it will open a window on to Conductive Education through which some much needed, fresh, critical thinking can be directed into the sector, for the benefit of both those outside and those within.

In the meantime, the Budapest Times has produced an attractive feature page that might serve as a useful hand-out for people introducing Conductive Education in a variety of contexts.


Dent, B. (2012) Enigmatic 'miracle man' helped the 'incurable' (Review of András Pető, edited by G.Maguire and A. Sutton), Budapest Times, 21 November, page 9

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Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

Re: "the Budapest Times has produced an attractive feature page that might serve as a useful hand-out for people introducing Conductive Education in a variety of contexts" - only if you're into waving huge red rags at great big bulls Andrew!
I realise the phrase "miracle man" and the word "incurable" are in quotation marks, but no two words have done more harm to CE's street cred than "miracle" and "cure". CE is vastly more intelligent than any stupid "miracle", and as for cure... no one needs a word like that dangled in front of them, least of all desperate parents.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 17:51:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

You must blame German concepts of health and healing for this terminology (they run over into Hungary too). They were also the means whereby AP appears both to have understood and expressed the medicine that he brought with him when he began treating motor disorder through movement therapy. These expressions are so pervasive in Central Europe that it was no surprise them used here by the headline-writer.

The vital words here in German is 'Heilung', 'healing'. In English (as ever, outside the European manstream) 'heal' and 'cure' and 'make better' usually imply to eliminate a disease altogether. 'Heilung' is closer to a notion of achieving well-being notwithstanding he physical problem.

AP was, recall, a sanitorium doctor. One of his two (known) medical books was called 'Gibt es unheibare Krankheiten? Nein' ('Are there any unhealable diseases? No').

'Unhealable', 'incurable', it all sounds wrong in English (at least it does in a country where English is the first language'). In the context of Europe it just does not sound quite the same.

A couple of years ago, I recall, Susie Mallett devoted some attention to this on the Conductor blog, and especially o tthe notion of 'seelische Heilung' ('healing of the soul'), which also sounds awful to my English ears. It was, I suspect, pretty fundamental to what AP was trying to do in the process that he described by the word 'conduction'. Here is one example of what she wrote on this:

I have done a few things on this myself, but cannot for the moment remember where. Once alerted to this question, I now tend to see it echoed in unfamiliar places. Here is a nice example, from Belgium, a couple a years ago:

And here is one that is less pleasant, from Germany:

I cannot think of an easy solution to the problem that you identify. AP came from a world so very different from the Anglo-Saxon that we take for granted without realising that it represents just one kind of the ways in which people think. According to one's whim whim ome can trace in CE snatches of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Marxism, and more, but never mind the -isms, he was above all a German, with Goethean science and Koesler's holonomy featuring large. What's a poor Brit to do other than perhaps give thanks that he was not French?

Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 12:01:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Emma McDowell writes –

I thought that it was a very good article in the ‘Bp.Times’.

In Hungary only very naïve outsiders would speak of 'gyógyulás', 'meggyógyulás' in connection with the healing methods practised at „Pető”.

'Gyógykezelés', 'gyógytorna', 'gyógypedagógus', on the other hand, are in my view adequate lay expressions, and widely used.

All sorts of spiritual healing methods are back into fashion (of course, not aimed at people suffering from serious motor disorders) – if they were ever out of fashion among those funny Central European people!


Friday, 23 November 2012 at 09:15:00 GMT  

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