Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Second Advisor

Lynn Ross‐Bryant

Third Advisor

Nada Diachenko


Dr. Ida P. Rolf and her life's work of Structural Integration or Rolfing is a product of early twentieth century American metaphysical thought. Rolfing is an American form of somatic bodywork that strives to overcome the Cartesian mind/body split. Through structural work via manual manipulation, Rolfing attempts to achieve physical health and emotional intelligence. This paper explores four major aspects of Rolfing as American Metaphysical religiosity, as defined by Catherine L. Albanese in Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion. The project also explores the origins of somatic bodywork and the metaphysical idea of spiritual transformation through physical change. The Esalen Institute is examined for its part in developing a secular American metaphysical religiosity that fostered and promoted Rolfing. Finally, the most current ideas in the Rolfing community and their development from their metaphysical roots are discussed.

Included in

Religion Commons