Thoughts on the Chiropractic Objective

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One of the greatest breakthroughs in the practice of chiropractic, during its 103-year history, has come about by the decision to define chiropractic by its objective.  Up until the early seventies, there were numerous ways to define chiropractic and the arguments regarding what was and was not considered to be chiropractic were constant.  With 50 states, a federal government and two national organizations, the definition often became terribly confusing.  Some defined chiropractic by how they did it (i.e., by hand only), others by what they did (i.e., chiropractic physician).  Then the leadership at Sherman College and the newly formed FSCO gave the profession not just another definition but a totally new way to describe chiropractic, by its objective.  That is to say, a chiropractor was considered to be practicing chiropractic if he was engaged in the location, analysis and correction of vertebral subluxation.  It no longer mattered how or even what a chiropractor did as long as it was to achieve this end. 

          That solved many problems within the chiropractic profession, at least for those willing to live by this mechanism for defining chiropractic.  However, it did not solve all the problems.  In fact, it became and has continued to be necessary to further refine the chiropractic objective.  Neither the original definition nor the objective it created has been changed, but they have both been made more clear.  To those critics of straight chiropractic, we admit chiropractic is still evolving, but within a definite framework.  Without a definite framework, which the objective gives us, chiropractic is free to wander aimlessly in a hundred different directions.  This is evident by the variety of types of practices that we have today.

          Those who formed the idea agreed that correcting vertebral subluxations was a worthy objective in and of itself.  Unfortunately, “correcting vertebral subluxations” really does not represent a very clear and well-defined objective. As a definition it seemed somewhat incomplete or inadequate.  By analogy, I guess getting up in the morning could be your objective for the day, but why bother if you do not have a goal or reason to get up.  Similarly, people climb mountains because mountains are there to climb.  That hardly seems like a worthy goal but even if it is, the fact that the chiropractic objective is accomplished on someone else, who, by the way, is paying for that service, means that as an objective, subluxations are corrected for at least one other reason.  It would be ridiculous to think that patients would pay the chiropractor just because the subluxations are there.  Clearly, there is some benefit to the patient.

          The definition of “objective” as we are using it in this discussion is, “Something worked toward or striven for.”  Of course, one could also say that the straight chiropractic we practice is based upon “objectivity,” what the straight chiropractor wants to accomplish, rather than the relief of the patient’s subjective symptoms.  That however does not really reflect the intention of the word as straight chiropractors use it.  It has been argued by some that every chiropractor has an objective and that is probably true, but they do not use their objective to define chiropractic.  Thus, the development of the term “objective straight chiropractic.”  It is not that we are the only ones with an objective, but we are the only ones who define our practice of chiropractic by it

          Some still define chiropractic in the traditional way, using B.J.’s definitions.  Unfortunately, the “philosophy, art and science of things natural” has nothing to do with the objective of locating, analyzing and correcting vertebral subluxations.  (Besides, no one really knows what B.J. meant by that.)  Other chiropractors still define chiropractic by how they do it.  However, the phrase “by hand only” relates to technique not to objective.  Others define their practice of chiropractic by state laws, which allow them to druglessly practice the medical objective.  If they were to define this approach to chiropractic as “trying to diagnose and treat disease without the tools, education or license of a medical doctor,” then they too would be defining chiropractic by their objective.  Most chiropractors would not admit that their objective is treating disease or correcting its cause for a very simple reason, that is the medical objective.  So they just go through life practicing “objectiveless” chiropractic.

          Those who agreed with the objective of correcting vertebral subluxations, felt they had, once and for all, defined chiropractic in a reasonable, rational and defensible manner.  But there was a problem; chiropractors may correct vertebral subluxations for many different reasons.  Some of those reasons include relieving pain, curing disease, correcting the cause of disease (it is specifically this that differentiates the traditional straight chiropractor from the objective straight chiropractor) making money, improving circulation and/or increasing mobility.  There may even be as many reasons as there are chiropractors.  It was clear that “correcting vertebral subluxations” was an insufficient description of our objective.

          It was suggested that we define ourselves not only by our objective but also by our area of interest, i.e., the human spine.  But that is redundant and does not help clarify our professional mission.  Where else would we correct vertebral subluxations but in the human spine?  Subsequently, some chiropractors suggested that we correct them because they are in and of themselves detrimental to the well-being of the human species.  That is quite definitive and gives some value to what we do, but it was still lacking, in the opinion of some.  It still failed to emphasize the real importance of what we do.  Everyone, from the medical doctor to the garbage man, may have as their objective, improving the well-being of the human species. 

          Finally, the objective was refined to include the fact that by correcting vertebral subluxations we are enabling the innate intelligence of the body to be better expressed.  That was a significant addition to the objective.  It was something to strive for and there was now a truly important reason to correct vertebral subluxations.  It said why we do what we do.  It also implies what we do not do.  We do not treat disease, its symptoms or its causes.  We do not promise to cure or even to relieve.   We do not confine our efforts only to that aspect of the human experience called health.  We simply allow the wisdom that runs the human body to be expressed a little more fully by correcting interference in the nerve system due to vertebral subluxation.  this improves every aspect of one’s life. 

          Perhaps the most significant aspect of this part of our objective is that it emphasizes the importance of what we do.  Every profession has an objective, however, there are very few that are involved in something as grand and lofty as allowing a fuller expression of the innate intelligence of the body.  This innate intelligence is the principle of life within an organism.  It creates the tissues that make the organs that make the systems that make the body.   It heals the body and produces every substance necessary for sustaining that body from birth to death.  To improve upon it is impossible, for it is perfect.  To try to help it is foolish.  To remove an interference to its full expression is just about the most important thing one human being can do for another.  That is what objective straight chiropractic is all about.

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