Dissing B.J.

Recently the charge has been leveled that what we call objective straight chiropractic or non-therapeutic chiropractic or modern-day straight chiropractic is an attempt to undermine the contribution of B.J. Palmer to the development of chiropractic. On one hand, our critics say that what B.J. and the other pioneers were doing is the same as what we are doing today, correcting vertebral subluxation for the sole purpose of enabling the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed. Strangely, in the next breath, they often charge that what we are offering is more akin to spinology than to chiropractic. (See Sidebar) It seems to me that one cannot have it both ways. Either we are the same or we are different. Perhaps it would be helpful to review the history of the development of this modern-day, non-therapeutic approach to chiropractic.

First, I think we need to clear the air about our attitude toward B.J. Palmer. No one presently alive and active in the straight chiropractic movement believes they are able to or are interested in usurping B.J. Palmer’s position as the Developer of chiropractic. Further, no one that I know of is interested in denigrating or belittling the contribution he has made, and in some ways continues to make to the development of chiropractic. I do not believe anyone thinks he or she could have done what B.J. accomplished. He was truly a remarkable man.

But for all his brilliance, B.J. left some gaping holes in the philosophy of chiropractic. Perhaps not in his understanding but surely in the manner in which he presented it. We must realize that the majority of so-called mixers in history learned their chiropractic at the Palmer School of Chiropractic under the tutelage of B.J. Most mixing schools were started by Palmer graduates. While we may have written off many of them to deviant thinking, there are a number of more recent examples. In the mid-seventies, schools that claimed to have held to the Palmer philosophy suddenly began to incorporate diagnosis and other aspects of materia medica into their curriculum and justified it by saying it was part of chiropractic. With very few exceptions, most of the “B.J. chiropractors” were strangely silent in condemning this practice by their alma mater, their fellow alumni, and the national organization that B.J. started. As a result of this wholesale slipping of the profession, some straight chiropractors began to assess the situation, with the desire to strengthen the philosophy and keep the profession from being absorbed by medicine. It was concluded that there were a number of weaknesses in the B.J. presentation of chiropractic.

Reggie Gold started spinology in 1980 after leaving the presidency of Pennsylvania College of Straight Chiropractic (then known as ADIO Institute of Straight Chiropractic). The present non-therapeutic approach to straight chiropractic (OSC) had been established and refined by 1980. That means that spinology was clearly an offshoot of straight chiropractic rather than the present approach to straight chiropractic being derived from spinology. The difference between spinology in 1980 and straight chiropractic then and now, aside from terminology, was the fact that the chiropractor discussed an individual’s health and spinologists referred only to performance and human potential. Neither 1980 straight chiropractic nor spinology addressed disease or its cause. Spinology, as taught today, seems to have departed in various ways from spinology as Reggie originally presented it.
First, B.J. defined chiropractic with terminology that lent itself to ambiguity. A term like “of things natural” is so vague that it is virtually worthless. Defining chiropractic by technique, such as “by hand only,” served no purpose. It was decided that chiropractic or at least this non-therapeutic approach should be defined by its objective and that objective should be limited to correcting vertebral subluxations to enable the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed. The practice of chiropractic is nothing more. Relating chiropractic to the cause of disease is no longer an acceptable approach to the practice of straight chiropractic because whether we like it or not, getting rid of the cause of disease is the medical objective and if that is our objective also, our argument with medicine is only one of methodology rather than objective.

Terms like DIS-EASE have been replaced because of their close association with medical terminology. “Getting sick people well” is another ambiguous phrase. “Sick” seems to have meant both being subluxated as well as manifesting the signs and symptoms of a medical condition. “Sick” is a word so closely associated with disease and the therapeutic objective that its usage in chiropractic is more harmful today than helpful. In the past 25 years, the straight chiropractic community has worked very hard to define and clarify the practice of chiropractic. Straight chiropractic practice draws a very fine line, a very necessary line. History has repeatedly shown us that chiropractors claiming to espouse the Palmer philosophy have gone off in directions the Developer would have condemned. Some of them have gone that direction because of the vagaries and the inconsistencies of B.J.’s writing and his terminology. In pointing out those consistencies we have not belittled B.J. Palmer. Quite the contrary. If chiropractic is to remain unmixed as B.J. would have wanted it, this close scrutiny of his writings and philosophy and minor changes are not only valuable, they are an absolute necessity.


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