Authority and Reason in Practice or “Because I Said So”


One of the more disturbing aspects of our chiropractic history is the fact that so many chiropractors have based their work and thinking on authority.  People follow their leader because of his/her charisma, the authority or position he/she holds within the profession, or because his name was Palmer.  Of course, our profession is also full of iconoclasts, those petty people who attack leaders because of their charisma, their authority, the position they hold within the profession, or because their name was Palmer.  I am not so much concerned with the historical aspects of the problem in our profession, my concern is related to what we, as so-called straight chiropractors, do in our practices today.  I believe that too many of us run our practices by establishing ourselves as the authority.  We try to get our practice members to do what we want them to do based on our authority as the doctor or by the force of our personality.  It is something that is easy to do.  Often we do it by the sheer enthusiasm with which we present the chiropractic philosophy in our orientation or lay lecture.  There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm.  It is often what drives the message home.  Still we must be careful that it is the message that attracts and motivates people to action and not simply our enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm does not last. 

Chiropractic is based on reason.  We establish our philosophy and practice by a deductive process.  It follows then, that we should educate our practice members and motivate them to lifetime care by reason.  There is no doubt it is easier to just exert your authority, to intimidate people into following our program of care and into becoming lifetime practice members.  Of course, many of us cannot get away with that kind of action.  We are just not intimidating people.  We can threaten to dismiss them from care.   That might work for some but more and more, especially among the younger generation, people do not like to be told what to do.  They may act in an immature manner but most people believe they are mature adults capable of running their own lives.  They are not like children who have to do as told “Because I said so.” 

I thought about why we say that to our children.  It seems to me there are three reasons.  First, we do not have a good logical reason to give them.  When it comes to chiropractic care, I believe we can give good, logical reasons for weekly lifetime care and just about every other question about our care.  The second reason we assert the “because I said so” reason is because sometimes smaller children are not intelligent enough to understand reason.  So we use authority, often followed by a threat to their gluteus maximus.  When it comes to practice members, I think with a few exceptions, all are intelligent enough to understand reason.  It may take longer with some than with others, but most can get it without resorting to threats (dismissal from care, not spanking)!  That brings us to the third reason.  Sometimes we say to our kids, “Because I said so” because we are too tired or lazy to give them a reasonable answer and explanation.  We must be careful that we are not too lazy to explain chiropractic to our practice members and be diligent to take as long as is necessary for them to truly understand what we are all about.  We must make sure that we take ample time to explain to them what lifetime care is and what chiropractic does and does not do.  They need our care.  They need to understand why they need our care.  They deserve no less.v18n1

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