Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Anna Dévény at 75, and still hard at it
Compare and contrast...
An interview with Barbara Molnár, published in English some 18 months ago in the Budapest Telegraph, begins –

Hungary is well off in offering treatment for infants born with problems: parents looking for assistance can choose from (at least) three (hotly competing) institutions and methods.

Some other quotes from this article –
  • ...treatment should become part of daily routine in hospital units specializing in the care of premature infants.
  • You don’t invent a new method just by thinking hard – it must be based on plenty of practice and experience.
  • Mind you I did that on six days of the week because five-day weeks were only introduced in Hungary in the early 1980s. So I was busy between 6.30 a.m. and 9.30 p.m. I did that driven by an inner motivation, not for the money.
  • Mind you I did that on six days of the week because five-day weeks were only introduced in Hungary in the early 1980s.
  • [Then, in the early 1980s there was a prime-time television interview] The downside of that celebrity status was that so many people brought their children to me for therapy that other therapists became jealous. It’s inconvenient even to think of the conflicts of the ensuing 15 years.
  • When a practitioner offers an entirely new approach, it generates tensions – in every field. Suffice it to refer to how Ignác Semmelweis died.
  • There is no clear distinction between cure and development in kinetic therapies.
  • When a patient is declared as cured with my method, he/she is fully functional.
  • I hope there will be younger colleagues to carry on this method.
  • This method is only effective as long as it is not mixed up with elements of other methods. Methods,just like medicines, cannot be freely replaced and mixed up. The proposition that the more types of treatments a patient gets the better, is wrong.
  • Every infant would benefit from [this] treatment in the first weeks of his/her life
  • [Although fellow therapists have often criticized her method, she has received several prizes: Batthyány-Strattmann László Prize: 2003, Prima Primissima Prize: 2010, and Order of Merit (civilian) – Commander Cross of Hungary: 2014.]

There is plenty else beside in the original interview, presenting a most fruitful and enjoyable topic  for comparative study.

I myself met Anna Dévény fairly early on in my connection with Conductive Education, I think on my first visit to Budapest, in 1984 when I was first trying to develop a perspective on this approach. She was operating in an empty shop in Pest, near the Parliament House. I met no interest when I told people about her over the years though her presence on the Internet suggests that eventually she had little need of help from me. On the same visit I also met Ferenc Katona. He was already well versed with the opposition of fellow paediatricans at home and abroad, who wanted more research rather than be open to a new practice.


Cottam, P., Sutton, A. (1985), Conductive Education: a system for overcoming motor disorder, London, Croom Helm (p. 25)

Molnár, B. (2015) 'Empowerment and nothing else is cure' – an interview with physiotherapist Anna Dévény, Budapest Telegraph, 24 July

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