top of page

About This Book

by Don Hanlon Johnson


The original founders of Somatics emerged in the climate of two World Wars and the Cold War, the Holocaust, and the residues of slavery in the US. They saw their methods of touch, sensing, breathing, feeling, and moving not only, or even primarily, as aimed at personal well-being, but as methods for reshaping the institutions of a sick social order. Since its emergence nearly 50 years ago, the field has become a force in the worlds of healing, education, and human development, with annual conferences, study groups, clinics, graduate degree programs oriented towards professional licensing, research projects, and a body of literature. The field has had discernible impacts on the psychological and physical well-being of thousands of people in pain, contributed to the understanding of how to bring these practices into various group activities such as recovery work, elder-care, early childhood education, and wilderness-based therapy. 


Now that these early goals have matured, we face the enormous challenge of expanding the range of voices into the other-than-white and the other-than-'normal'.  My original approach to establishing a solid ground for this field was based on eliciting personal narratives from the pioneers, knowing that our theories and practices emerge not from heaven but from the long struggles in which courageous, thoughtful and heartful people try to craft lives of service and satisfaction, both for ourselves and others. You can understand Rolfing or Sensory Awareness or Feldenkrais, for examples, only if you understand the detailed journeys of Ida Rolf, Charlotte Selver, and Moshe Feldenkrais, the questions that motivated them, and how, in their life contexts, they went about resolving those questions. The first three volumes in this collaboration between the graduate Somatics Program at CIIS and North Atlantic Books were based on that approach. Continuing that model, I have asked the authors in this volume to tell their stories about how they have managed to shape their own lives of meaning and service, but from histories and body structures very different from what we have so far conceived in the public arena. This collection is a first to open the door for voices to emerge from African-American, Indigenous, Latin American, and Asian embodiment traditions, and from authors whose bodies are outside the range of conventional standards of normality. In these narratives, you find the seeds of new approaches to the transformation of the bodily roots of our social order, and a healing of the recurrent traumas of the past.

The book will be released on September 11th, 2018. For further information, visit or call 800-733-3000. To pre-order on Amazon visit,

bottom of page