Almost every chiropractor has read B.J.’s short paragraph…

“A slip on the snowy sidewalk, in the winter, is a small thing, it happens to millions. A fall from a ladder, in summer, is a small thing, that also happens to millions. The slip or fall produces a subluxation, the subluxation is a small thing. The subluxation produces pressure on a nerve, that pressure is a small thing. The pressure cuts off the flow of mental impulses, that decreased flowing is a small thing. That decreased flowing produces a dis-eased body and brain, that is a big thing to that man. Multiply that sick man by a thousand, and you control the physical and mental welfare of a city. Multiply that sick man by a million, and you shape the physical and mental destiny of a state. Multiply that man by two hundred million, and you forecast and can prophesy the physical and mental status of a nation. So the slip or fall, the subluxation, pressure, flow of mental impulses, and disease are big enough to control the thots and actions of a nation…”
We have either thought it was a bit far fetched or merely an interesting idea. But, recently there has been a synthesis of the fields of science and history which indicate that B.J.’s idea has a lot of merit. Not only does it have merit with regard to “two hundred million”, but it even relates to individuals in history.
This new field called “Biohistory” relates the physiological and pathological problems and functions of individuals, nations, and mankind, to events that have shaped history. It is not difficult to see how the plagues of the Middle Ages, the genius of Alexander the Great, or the insanity of Adolph Hitler have affected history. But, they are remote examples and difficult with which to relate. However, the fact that a flare-up of hemorrhoids may have cost Napoleon the Battle of Waterloo is something with which many people can identify! In his book, Napoleon’s Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory, Arno Karlen cited numerous examples of how physiological dysfunction in many individuals is thought to have changed history.

Biohistorians are able to ascertain numerous maladies that affected Napoleon Bonaparte and could have contributed to his failures. Looking at his accomplishments in battle, leadership, and government administration one has to wonder what he could have accomplished had he been healthy. Napoleon claimed to have caught scabies during the siege of Toubon in 1793. He also suffered neurodermatitis off and on throughout his life which was worse when he was under stress. He once said “I live only by my skin” and was known to scratch himself so hard that he bled and his soldiers thought he had been wounded. His attacks of hemorrhoids seemed to occur before and during battles from his late twenties. He had an especially severe attack on the road to Waterloo. Can you imagine riding a horse with hemorrhoids? Karlen says “The French won an advantage at Ligny on June 17.” Normally Napoleon would have capitalized on it speedily. Instead he lay awake much of the night in pain and finally arose, exhausted and sluggish, at eight o’clock. To his general’s frustration, he issued no orders for several hours; meanwhile, the opposing Allies repositioned themselves, and the French advantage was gone. Throughout the day Napoleon seemed foggy, erratic, indecisive; some of his actions still puzzle historians. At one point he dismounted and stood clutching a fence post, his face white with pain and for an hour he straddled a chair by the road to Brussels. Wellington later said “Waterloo was one of the narrowest victories he had seen.” Napoleon’s fatigue, pain, and limited mobility, could have made the difference.
Napoleon also suffered from gastrointestinal problems. Autopsy results indicated he died of stomach cancer. He was often seen with his coat unbuttoned and his hand slipped in holding his painful abdominal area. In Chapter 2 Karlen discusses Francisco Goya, the great artist of the Romantic era, who suffered a mysterious illness that affected his nervous system. It caused “dizziness, impaired balance, mental confusion, impaired hearing and speech, and partial blindness.” It drastically affected his art. The author brings out research by a Dr. Niederland that indicates the neurological disorder was brought about by lead poisoning from the lead in Goya’s paints. Whatever the etiology, there is clear indication that the painter’s work, life, and historical fame was a direct result of a physical change in his body.

A chapter deals with Edgar Allan Poe and the physical problems that shaped his personality and his writing. Karlen also devotes a chapter to the effects of various plagues and diseases on the course of history. While that aspect of biohistory does not relate directly to the philosophical concept espoused by B.J., it has always intrigued chiropractors not that the Black Plague killed off one-third of Europe, but as in the case of any epidemic, why two-thirds were able to live through it.
Some of the book deals with biohistory as it relates to social and psychological development of the human organism and how it relates to evolution. Some of Karlen’s book deals with subject matter outside the interest of the chiropractor. Some of it is written from a distinctly medical viewpoint and of course he writes with no knowledge of chiropractic.
The theoretical ramifications of history are fantastic in thinking about the idea of a Napoleon or Julius Caesar or Poe or Alexander of Macedon or any other important figure in history being under chiropractic care. But more relevant to us today is a new awareness of the importance of what we are doing every day in our offices. We may not be having any future Goyas or Napoleons walking into our offices but every chiropractor is most assuredly adjusting the present and future leaders in business, industry, and government. To quote B.J. again “We never know how far reaching something we may think, say, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”  V1n6

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