'Psycho-Physical Wholes' : The Influence of F.M. Alexander and William Sheldon on Aldous Huxley's Works

Leavey, James. 2015. 'Psycho-Physical Wholes' : The Influence of F.M. Alexander and William Sheldon on Aldous Huxley's Works. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Aldous Huxley’s writings, which exhibit his avid interest in all areas of knowledge, including the arts, the sciences, religion, politics, philosophy and psychology, display a tendency to adopt, and attempt to synthesise, the ideas of others, as well as a willingness to embrace unorthodox thinkers. This thesis examines how the works of Aldous Huxley were influenced by two men whose ideas focused upon the relationship between the mind and body: Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), inventor of the mind-body therapy known as the Alexander Technique, and Dr William Sheldon (1898-1977), a constitutional psychologist who developed a theory of mind-body types.
The phrase ‘psycho-physical wholes’ in the thesis title is taken from a letter from Huxley to E. S. P. Haynes in March 1945: ‘Sheldon considers human beings as they really are – psycho-physical wholes or mind-bodies’.1 This is the central theme of the thesis; it will examine how Alexander’s and Sheldon’s particular conceptions of human beings as psycho-physical entities were profoundly influential upon Huxley’s writings. The thesis as a whole thus provides an important contribution to the study of Huxley’s conception of the relationship between mind and body, and the works he wrote which were impacted by this conception. It provides a contribution to the understanding of the influences that helped to shape the works of Huxley. It sheds further light on the origins of Huxley’s ideas and characters, thus providing additional insight into the often unorthodox ideas that influenced the works of writers and intellectuals in the interwar and postwar period.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Aldous Huxley, F. M. Alexander, Alexander Technique, William Sheldon, Somatotypes, Mind-Body

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 June 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2015 08:44

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:32



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