Objective Straight Chiropractic

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Perhaps we have come to the point that it is time to drop the adjectival description of chiropractic. Fewer and fewer chiropractors describe themselves as “straight” It does create confusion with regard to, among other things, one’s sexual preference. The last remaining college that described itself as straight has dropped the word from its name, though they still profess to hold to its traditional chiropractic philosophy. The philosophy has not changed, just the name.

When the term “objective straight chiropractic” came into common usage it was criticized on two fronts. Those of the broad-scope (mixer) persuasion did not like it because they felt it was putting them down as being subjective rather than objective. (I guess being called subjective is even worse than being called a mixer). On the other side, some straight chiropractors felt it did not clarify because all chiropractors have an objective, (e.g., treat disease, correct vertebral subluxations, make money). I am old enough to remember when the college changed its name to “straight” chiropractic. Many good straight chiropractors felt that it was unnecessary. Their argument was that you were either a chiropractor or you were not, regardless of what your license said, and to use the term straight only acknowledged the validity of other “kinds” of chiropractic. It would have been interesting if Sherman College had used that argument when dropping “straight” from their title. But they did not. They also did not address their original reason for adding “straight” to the name (that there were so many different practices of chiropractic their approach needed further description).

So maybe we are at a place in the history of our profession that “straight” is no longer needed to clarify the type of chiropractic being offered. At the least, it is anachronistic. Interestingly, while “straight” may no longer be an appropriate descriptive term, the “objective” part seems to take on more importance than ever. Granted, the term “objective” has many meanings, but there is one that is very apropos to what we do. It is the one that the mixers recognized. “Objective,” in the case of chiropractic, means it is based upon some standard rule or principle outside of ourselves (that is, it is not subjective). For us (formally called “straight”) we have principles or standards outside of what we ourselves would establish, ones not based upon our individual desires. We have a principle called “innate intelligence” that guides our actions. We have standards upon which we base our practice, standards that are based upon the law of life, the laws of the universe. They are not based upon what we can convince some legislature to enact.

This, in essence, is the conflict within our profession. One group of chiropractors are subjective. They believe that chiropractic should be whatever they want it to be. They believe that they have the right to set the standards, the rules, and the principles upon which the profession is based. Of course, they also think the standards are subjective and can change with the whims or the desires of those who set them. The other aspect of the profession, the objective chiropractors, says that there is a standard above and beyond us that dictates what chiropractic should be and no one has the right to change it. We choose to practice in accordance with those standards. These standards cannot change. We did not create them. Those principles address the intelligence of the universe, the organization of the body, what we call in chiropractic the “laws of life.” They are principles of life and as long as life exists we need to function according to those standards.

So maybe we can drop “straight.” Personally, I am inclined toward more descriptive terms; the more specific, the better. I would like to be called an “objective, straight, non-therapeutic, lifetime maintenance, family chiropractor” but my business card is not big enough! Perhaps that is why we should ultimately drop “straight.” It is just too much trouble to try to explain it and really, is it that important? What is important is the fact that we practice in an objective manner. We do not practice for ourselves, for our changing desires. We practice for a principle, because there is something in chiropractic that is bigger than us, bigger than our personal or professional wants and needs. It is outside of us, a standard by which we gauge our actions. That is what it means to be objective.

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