Hank – Five Years From The Brink

I was watching this 2013 documentary on former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen. I was struck by his hoarse voice and immediately thought that the guy suffered from unnecessary body tension and this stressed and damaged his vocal chords.

Early on in the film, Hank says: “I’m a sloucher.” Pulling down is going to hurt the quality of your voice. Unnecessary tension anywhere in your body is going to hurt your voice.

“I do a lot of things well, but relax isn’t one of them,” Hank says. You can tell that in his voice.

Hank’s wife Wendy says: “Hank’s intense.” That intensity when it manifests as unnecessary body tension is going to cause you a lot of physical, emotional and mental problems.

Hank: “We always joke about the fact that I can’t read anything with expression. If you heard me read a speech, you would know it wasn’t a pleasant thing. I would read with a monotone. I would race through these books [with the kids] in a monotone and Wendy came in once and said, ‘Slow down. Read with expression.’ As soon as I did that, both kids started to cry. They said, ‘No! Read like a daddy, not like a mommy.'”

Hank talks about a key meeting during the 2008 financial crisis. “Getting near midnight, I had a problem cover over me. All of my life when I get really exhausted, I get the dry heaves. And it sounds like I’m really sick because I make a lot of noise.”

Wendy laughs: “Everybody asks. I forget, dry heaves, I think he calls it that.”

Hank: “I would play tennis with Wendy. If I was in the hot sun and so on… A couple of times, our opponents would think it was a tactic, and I’d go over and have the dry heaves and she’d say, ‘Hank, get back out here. That’s disgusting.’.”

Wendy: “I would totally discount it. People would get very undone about it and I’d say, ‘Forget it. That’s just Hank.’ I discount them completely. I know he’s had them before.”

Hank: “Rahm Emmanuel and Harry Reid came over and offered to get a doctor.”

Why does Hank Paulsen get dry heaves under stress? It’s related to his slumping, tension and hoarse voice. He’s using himself poorly. He has way too much tension in his body, way too much compression, and he makes himself sick.

I blogged about this Sept. 1, 2009:

“Do you have any thoughts on stomach aches?” I ask my Alexander Technique teacher today.
“When do you get them?” he asks.
“When I start worrying. I find myself clenching.”
“Well, what would you say to a friend with this problem?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’d say that you’re probably moving down when it happens, pushing your stomach down, playing a loop of worrying thoughts, and you’re probably tipping your head back. So the solution is to flow up. You’re too smart of a guy for this. You know this.
“Why do people throw up when under stress? Because they push down, they tip their head back, they catastrophize and the bile flows up.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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