A student asked me recently why the Clearview Sanitarium closed, especially since it was getting such fantastic results in the correction of mental disorders. I imagine there were many contributing factors, but the basic cause is one that speaks to us as chiropractors today. It closed because it was trying to compete with medicine in the treatment of a disease (medical conditions of the mind). For a while it was doing great, not because chiropractic is a fantastic treatment for mental disorders but because medical treatment was so poor by comparison. Medicine was still in the 19th century when it came to the treatment of the mentally ill and the 19th century was not far removed from the Dark Ages. What happened then? Medicine caught up. As much as we chiropractors criticize medicine it has come a long way in the treatment of many diseases and this one is an example. A different attitude toward the mentally ill, psychotherapy, and especially psychotropic drugs have drastically improved medicine’s success with mental disorders, so much so that it caught up to and passed the successes of Clearview. Remember, we are not talking about an individual being healthy again, which is what Clearview was offering under the guise of treating mental problems. We are talking about people feeling better, acting more like the accepted standard that society has set and keeping their symptoms, in this case, aberrant behavior, under control. Drugs can do that faster and more effectively, in most cases, than can chiropractic. We know that medicine’s success is in the treatment of disease not the restoration of health. However, the public does not know this.
Here’s the application to us. If we present chiropractic as a treatment of a disease of any kind, in any way (even as the treatment for the “cause of disease”), eventually we, as a profession, will go the way of Clearview. Medicine is getting better and better at the treatment and prevention of diseases. As much as we hate to admit it, it is true. (They have made virtually no progress in the restoration and maintenance of health.) They are wiping out diseases (polio, smallpox), and they are prolonging death. We cannot hope to compete with them in those areas. Apparently much of our profession feels we can still compete with them in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. But like the treatment of mental illness, they are catching up to us. Increasingly, they are abandoning radical surgery. They are incorporating manipulation, all the while keeping the tools that have proven effective in treating musculoskeletal conditions, e.g. pain killers and muscle relaxants. If we try to compete, even if it is in the area of treatment of musculoskeletal problems, eventually they will catch up to us and pass us or absorb us along the way to the loss of this great principle. But they cannot begin to compete with us when it comes to the restoration of health by enabling the innate intelligence of the body to better express itself over the nervous system. They cannot compete with us because they are not even in the game. One day they may get smart and see what we have and steal it. Which might not be all that bad for mankind!! We as a profession have precious little to show for 95 years guarding and practicing this principle! However, more likely they will destroy the one thing we have that is uniquely ours. The only way to protect it is for us to forsake the untenable positions of treating and preventing disease and symptoms and make our stand on the correcting of vertebral subluxation to allow the body to express more of its innate potential. If we do not do that, the chiropractic profession, like Clearview Sanitarium, may one day be a historical footnote and some history student somewhere will be asking a professor “Whatever happened to the chiropractic profession?”v5n5

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This article has 2 comments

  1. STEVF JUDSON 05/27/2011, 4:31 pm:

    It closed because BJ Palmer died….85% of the people had their lives saved there…chiropractors need to get back into the “treatment” of the mentally ill…medicine has not caught up…they just enslave these people with drugs and lock them up for life…we need to serve these people.

    • Tom G 05/27/2011, 7:47 pm:

      This reminds me of when we were in school and discussing how we got new people in to check their spines. One of the students said to Reggie, “Reggie, I was walking in the mall and saw someone with a neck collar on. I walked right up to him and started talking with him and I think he’s going to come in for me.” Reggie without a moments hesitation said, “That’s great, but what about the hundreds of other people walking around. Did you go up and talk to them as well?” The fact is ALL people need to have their spines checked. People in collars, yes, mentally ill people, yes, people with one eye, yes, people wearing a red shirt, yes. Or Reggie’s favorite: “I don’t care if they have leprosy, ingrown toe nails or rumpture gumpture of the trash bag. They are always better off without subluxations than with.”
      I agree Steve. We need to serve these people, but we also need to serve every other person as well.

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