It is absolutely essential that we understand present day chiropractic in light of its history as well as its philosophy. You cannot possibly understand the history of our profession unless it is evaluated in light of the philosophy. Conversely, you cannot understand the philosophy without benefit of a proper historical perspective.
Some years back a chiropractor by the name of August Dye wrote The Evolution of Chiropractic. It was a fairly good text. To be sure chiropractic has gone through an evolutionary process since 1895. Today we describe that process or change by two terms-straight chiropractic and mixing chiropractic.
Space does not allow us to examine D.D. Palmer’s thinking that brought him to the point of the discovery of chiropractic. However, after that first adjustment (or whatever he did to Harvey Lillard) certain thoughts began to evolve in D.D.’s mind and then subsequently in the mind of B.J. Palmer. In a sense we are fortunate that most of the thinking that developed the profession was done by these two men. It has simplified to some degree our analysis of the evolution of chiropractic. While there have been other spokesmen for the profession, the Langworthys, Buddens, Carvers, Lobans, and Janses’, by focusing on the writing of D.D. and B.J. we can come to a clearer understanding of what chiropractic was, is, and should be. There are always those who will denigrate D.D. and more so B.J., but any reasonable person would have to agree that the name Palmer is synonymous with chiropractic. However, as you study these two men more closely you find it is not that easy to explain chiropractic by their writings. Quite frankly, some of their writings contradict each other and at times they contradict themselves. This only becomes a problem if you take every word that D.D. and/or B.J. wrote as absolute truth. Throughout their writings we find that they have incorrect statements, statements that are inconsistent with the philosophy and some that are scientifically incorrect. I do not say this to denigrate either of them. What is truly amazing is that so much of what they wrote has stood the test of time. That is a credit to the minds of these two men! But there were some errors in their thinking as the Big Idea evolved in their minds and subsequently in their writings. I find it interesting that some of the most confused people in the chiropractic profession are those that accept everything D.D., and more so B.J., said as gospel. They are the people who are considered straight by the mixers but yet are not part of the organized straight chiropractic movement. They are attempting to tenaciously hold on to the tenets of B.J. while practicing chiropractic in the CCE paradigm. (I have just used a word I have vowed never to use in my writing. It’s one of those buzz words that we are all sick of hearing.) They are the people who hold to the philosophical concept that says only the body knows what is normal but then they attempt to justify diagnosis. With this somewhat lengthy introduction to the subject of our evolution, let us examine how we got where we are.
Because of the genius B.J. was, he moved in many different directions in attempting to develop, prove, teach, and promote the philosophy, the science, and the art of chiropractic. Like any good inventor, he had good ideas and bad ideas. It is said of Edison that he had thousands of invention failures before he hit upon the success of the light bulb and the phonograph. Likewise B.J. had failures, some he discarded and we will never know about them. Others are still with us. Like any good entrepreneur he had ventures that were good and some that were destined to failure. Like any great thinker, he had many good ideas and some bad ones. Unfortunately, because of his attention to record keeping and recording his thoughts (the Green Books) we have had kept for posterity the good, the bad and the ugly.
The following diagram may help in clarifying our history. The straight line represents the body of principles that we call straight chiropractic today.

How do we establish the “Base Line”? The logical question arises as to how we can establish what is the “straight line”. How do we presume to conclude what is straight chiropractic. From reading the Palmer’s works we can see certain criteria by which they judged what was chiropractic and what was not. We then can apply these yardsticks to their own writings. They include:

1. Chiropractic relates to DIS-EASE not disease (The two are totally different.)

2. Chiropractic is not a religion. Therefore, the use of religious terminology or concepts falls outside the realm of chiropractic.

3. Chiropractic has a different objective than medicine. If it did not, it would have had no reason to begin. Early pioneers stressed that point when they went to jail for maintaining that they were not practicing medicine. Licensure was attained based upon the fact that the objectives of medicine and chiropractic were different.

4. The most important guide left to us was a way of logical thinking called deductive reasoning. They were not the originators of deductive reasoning but they used it as the means for reaching certain conclusions in chiropractic. This approach involves non-contradictory identification of truth. With nothing more than the Major Premise and deductive reasoning we have been able to build a philosophy. When a statement, concept, terminology, technique is not consistent with those deductions it is rejected. Those deductions based upon the Major Premise form the straight line. That is the most important concept that D.D. and B.J. left us. By it everything is judged.

Point A, of course, is 1895 when D.D. discovered chiropractic (or at least when most of our profession thinks he discovered chiropractic…but that’s another article!) Notice that A is not on the straight chiropractic line. By today’s standard of straight chiropractic, giving an adjustment to cure deafness is not straight chiropractic. But that’s where we began. As D.D. developed this new profession we see that he moved toward the line in his thinking but there were always deviations. If you stop at any point on the curved line, confusion as to what chiropractic is will occur. If D.D. had stopped at point A, chiropractic would have been nothing more than a cure for certain types of deafness. Perhaps if we look at some other points along the curve we can better see the concept.
Point B. In 1902 B.J. said chiropractic could cure all disease. In light of our present day understanding we realize the fallacy of that statement. What he should have said is that the human body has the ability to heal itself of all disease and can do it a little better if the individual is under chiropractic care. That is what he would have said today but in 1902 that caused a controversy that has resulted in almost 90 years of animosity from the medical profession. Some chiropractors actually believed and promoted chiropractic from that position (B). Clearly they would have been consistent with what B.J. said in 1902, but inconsistent with chiropractic as we explain it today.
Point C. “Chiropractic gets sick people well.” This is the 1920’s view of what chiropractic is. There are many chiropractors today who still practice this type or chiropractic. They would not think of doing anything but adjusting subluxations by hand These are very difficult people with which to deal. Most of them are fine, old chiropractors. Pioneers who deserve our respect and admiration. They are the ones who went to jail for the principle. They are with the straight chiropractic movement in principle, but cannot get away from the mind set that chiropractic gets sick people well. They relate to chiropractic and disease.
Point D. D.D. once said that a cause of vertebral subluxation was auto-suggestion. From this statement Thurman Fleet developed concept therapy and claimed to be merely expounding upon the chiropractic philosophy of D.D. Palmer. Today an entire pseudo-chiropractic movement has taken that one statement out of context and distorted chiropractic.
Point E. On occasions, B.J., D.D. and other writers used the terms God, Universal Intelligence and innate intelligence interchangeably. It was not done to confuse people or to make chiropractic a religion but it is inconsistent with the need for specific terminology to clearly define chiropractic philosophy. Some chiropractors have moved from Point E in the direction of making chiropractic into a religion.
Point F. In the 30’s B.J. developed the concept of the HIO adjustment. Later in his life he admitted that subluxations did occur below atlas-axis. Many chiropractors, however, stayed at Point F and a few are still there today denying subluxation occurs below axis.

What we need to see is that there was clearly a pattern that D.D. and B.J. developed which is represented by the straight line. It is this position to which they constantly returned after certain deviations. Unfortunately, we still have the deviations in parts of some of the Green Books. These books should be read, dissected and analyzed in light of the straight line. Where there are deviations we can recognize them for what they are, the historical evolution of a profession. We must continue to evaluate every new idea in light of our chiropractic philosophy. We have made tremendous strides in the past 15 years in clarifying, defining and delineating our chiropractic philosophy. We have had the advantage of the writings, both good (99%) and bad (1%) of D.D. and B.J. to help us. As can be seen from the diagram there are less and less hills and they are not as great a departure from the straight line. Perhaps one day we will move along in a straight line with no deviations. Until then we must be alert to any deviation (slipping) and return to the principle.v5n5


Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *