Changing B.J.’s and D.D.’s

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Chiropractic Most of us have questioned or have been questioned about the right to change chiropractic as D.D. and B.J. espoused it. Recently, a young man raised the question of whether anyone had the right to change B.J.’s philosophy. Even the development of objective straight chiropractic has been challenged by traditional “chiropractic gets sick people well” chiropractors. There is no doubt that some of the philosophical tenets of D.D. and B.J. have been changed since the start of the objective straight chiropractic movement in the mid-seventies. What right do we have or does anyone have to make changes in chiropractic? I would like to suggest some reasons, but first we must acknowledge that B.J. made wholesale changes to his father’s idea of chiropractic. In fact, many of the things that B.J. said and did were in conflict with his father’s original ideas and Old Dad Chiro was not the least bit reluctant to chastise the “usurper” for some of them. Of course, D.D. himself changed aspects of his own philosophy, art and science from 1895 until his death in 1913. I would suggest that as the first reason we have a right to make changes in chiropractic. D.D. and B.J. set the precedent by doing it themselves. Not only did B.J. change many of D.D.’s ideas, but he also changed his own ideas considerably over the 50-plus years he presided over the profession. That is the first reason we are given some latitude in making changes in the philosophy and art of chiropractic, the Founder and Developer themselves set the precedent.

The second reason involves the very definition the Palmers gave to chiropractic, “a philosophy, art and science,” all of which are constantly under change. Philosophy by its very nature is changing. One would hope that the art form associated with chiropractic would change and by changing, improve. Scientific facts may not change but the application of those facts change. In addition, science changes as new paradigms are created. If chiropractic were relegated to a religion or a dogma then we could keep it from changing but given the chance to do that, the Palmers refused.

The third reason we have the right to change chiropractic is that when D.D. began to teach chiropractic and teach others to teach it, he acknowledged that there would be changes and even encouraged it. It is true that at first he balked at the idea of sharing this new idea with others and it is said that it was B.J. and a near-death experience that finally convinced him to teach chiropractic. He apparently felt that allowing others to teach chiropractic was in the new profession’s best interest. When you share anything with others and give them the right to pass it on you must expect it to change.

Another reason is the fact that the Palmers agreed to let chiropractic become regulated by the state. When they gave up their control over chiropractic, they had to know that the state would make changes and they were agreeing to those changes by accepting the idea of licensure. To think that the government would create a licensed profession exactly as the Palmers wanted without ever changing it would be irrational. It is true that they tried to influence the process as much as possible but they knew going into the licensing game that they could not write the rules. Apparently they thought that in the long run it was what was best for chiropractic. Whether they were right or not is open to discussion. Finally, the most important reason we have the right to change chiropractic is that chiropractic simply had to change. In the position or the model that it was placed in, change was necessary. Essentially, the Palmers presented chiropractic as a last resort for failed medicine. As medicine improved in treating diseases and certain diseases like typhoid fever waned due to better hygiene, the miracle cures of chiropractic were no longer needed. Sadly, most chiropractors changed chiropractic into a treatment for back problems. It seems to me that for chiropractic to survive, chiropractic has to change. The traditional “correction of the cause of all disease” just does not work anymore. We can become a therapy for minor musculoskeletal conditions or we can promote a model that fills a need that every human being has, improved innate expression. We believe that objective straight chiropractic adheres as close to the Palmer model as possible but offers an approach acceptable to the broadest base of society. That is a change for the better. v17n3

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