"Uniting Man the Physical and Man the Spiritual"


One of the most important things we do in chiropractic is define our terms. The above phrase really annoys me. I tend to think that it came to us from the Palmers, perhaps indirectly, but whoever is responsible for it needs a review of Chiropractic Philosophy 101.

There is a physical part of man. It can be seen, felt and measured. It makes up the organs, tissues, and cells of the human body. It is the material part. There is also a non-material part of the human organism, the “being” part, if you will. However, this immaterial part has more than one aspect to it just as the material part has more than one aspect. We have many organs and tissues, and trillions of cells-each individual cell becoming part of the whole.

It is not difficult to understand that there is more than one part of the non-material aspect. We have so many words in our lexicon that describe this immaterial aspect or parts of it. They include, but are not limited to, the “innate intelligence,” “life force,” “educated intelligence,” “spirit,” “soul,” “chi”, “mental impulse” and I imagine a dozen others. Add to that the fact that other disciplines appropriate some of these terms. This can create much confusion.

Here is the point. We should strive toward clarity in our language and terminology, not add confusion to the thinking and vocabulary of the public. Every time we use a term that has another meaning to another field, we do a disservice to chiropractic and to the public in their understanding of our philosophy. The sad thing is that many of us do it to give the public something they can identify with. Sure, the “subtle substance of the soul” is very poetic, and B.J. may have felt he was waxing eloquent in using it, but it is confusing because the “soul” is first, a theological term. Human beings have a soul; plants and animals do not, at least in the common accepted theological sense. All have an identical “innate intelligence.” Do those who adjust animals unite “dog the physical with dog the spiritual?”

Actually, I find it strange that B.J. would use that phraseology when he was so adamant about clearly elucidating what we do. He “slipped” in this instance. That is a reason why we should not perpetuate this unclear thinking. The only way the world is going to come to a clear understanding of chiropractic is if we make it clear. Confusing terms will not do that. Let’s clean up our language.

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This article has 17 comments

  1. Monty Harris 06/08/2011, 3:51 pm:

    Jewish sages refer to the human soul as three parts: nefesh, ruach, and neshama. Nefesh animates the material body. Ruach is the connection between nefesh and neshama, the cause of feelings and personality. Neshama is the spiritual existence that pulls man toward the Creator, and to do good works, and be humble. At times, I get the feeling that the Palmers were coming from this perspective. Maybe In man, the connection with neshama could be re-established, while in a dog, neshama does not exist, but the expression of nefesh could be enhanced.

    I agree that our use of language must not interfere with what we are trying to convey. Using the same terms and definitions will make it easier for us to teach and for them to learn. As much of a “hot button” as religion is for some people, using terms that theology also uses may get in the way of the message.

  2. joey 06/08/2011, 3:53 pm:

    yes joe i understand. this is one of the reasons i don’t like to use the word “God” in speaking about chiropractic. “God” has a different meaning to everyone. sometimes when you use the word “universal intelligence” you get branded “New Age” and it has a different meaning then “God” to some. one word that hasn’t had so many meanings tied to it is “Innate Intelligence”, that is ours and ours alone. if we can somehow figure how to apply that to an all-knowing universe without taking sides on theology or new age that’d be pretty cool. i’ve heard reggie use the term “ole mother nature” which may be even better than intelligence, without sounding metaphysical but the same meaning.

    • Tom 06/08/2011, 10:06 pm:

      Joey, I also like using “the wisdom of the body” coined by that famous physiologist Cannon. “That Mysterious Something” can spice it up a little for those needing a more scientific phrase. It’s from Grays Anatomy so it must be scientific right? 😉

  3. Steve 06/08/2011, 4:26 pm:

    Hey Joe, You are correct it came directly from DD. If you are unclear on this get Simon Senzon’s books, “The Spiritual Writings of BJ Palmer”, “The Secret History of Chiropractic”, and ” Chiropractic Foundations, DD Palmer’s Traveling Library”. Three excellent books on OUR history. DD was a spiritualist and believed we did a higher work in that innate (or the spirit) gathered knowledge in this lifetime to benefit the next one. This is why DD felt a religious DUTY to adjust. Also why he contemplated making Chiropractic a religion.

  4. Bob Vano, DC 06/08/2011, 4:53 pm:

    I wonder what DD and BJ would say about this today? Anyway….I agree…cleaning is always good.

    • JStraussDC 06/08/2011, 5:15 pm:

      ….I agree…cleaning is always good.

      Bob, Did my wife put you up to saying that?

      • Bob Vano, DC 06/08/2011, 8:01 pm:

        Well, no. However, it is good “therapy” (define that on your own).

  5. Claude Lessard 06/08/2011, 5:52 pm:

    To understand means to stand under… Chiropractic stands under Universal Laws. In and of itself, chiropractic is NOT the start point of LIFE. It works according to LAWS. To clean up our act, we must understand the position of chiropractic within the universal scheme of things. We must stand under the LAW of its major premise without attempting to make it more than what it is for our own “easy-way-out” as we communicate the story. Otherwise we confuse rather than educate. This world is confused enough without our adding to its confusion. Our mandate is keep the message as simple as it is. And if you think chiropractic is complicated, read the BLUE books again and again and again and you will notice that chiropractic deals with 32 principles and a major premise as its start point.
    Even Joe’s basement is getting cleaned-up. Now, that’s quite a feat!!!

    • Bob Vano, DC 06/08/2011, 8:04 pm:

      “Now, that’s quite a feat!!!”

      That’s what I heard!

  6. Ronen 06/08/2011, 6:43 pm:

    Yet the phrase describes the effects of Chiropractic on the physical, mental and speritual aspects of life.
    2 sides of the nervous system.
    It is important to unite the material and imaterial.
    Only chiropractic can do that, to the best of my understanding.
    We need to discuss it and clarify to the best of our ability, and for the understanding of the public.

    • Bob Vano, DC 06/08/2011, 8:07 pm:

      How does one unite “material and imaterial”? Please describe.

      And, how do you know that’s actually happening?

  7. Tom 06/08/2011, 8:31 pm:

    Great points Joe! My “innate” thanks your “innate” for writing it! 😉

  8. Tara 06/08/2011, 9:05 pm:

    I encounter this when I go out to do spinal screenings, people say “I do/don’t believe in chiropractic.” “It is not a belief”, I say. Is gravity a belief? Listen to the public’s perception when they speak to you, and you will know how to adapt the 32 principles in order to educate. Pretty simple actually 🙂

    • Bob Vano, DC 06/08/2011, 9:50 pm:

      Only one principal necessary to teach…..have your spine checked on a regular basis whether you feel good or bad. Period.

      • Tom 06/08/2011, 10:10 pm:

        I agree Bob, at least initially. I think we sometimes try and teach our practice members all of Philosophy 801 in the intro orientation and they walk out cross-eyed wondering what hit them.

        • Bob Vano, DC 06/09/2011, 2:40 am:

          Who teaches philosophy now-a-days? I’ll stick with hypnosis on all my new people. Why not?! Seems DCs think everything is part of “chiropractic” anyway. 😉

  9. Tom 06/09/2011, 7:26 pm:

    Hey Bob, what insurance code you use for hypnosis?? 😛

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