Dr. Thom Gelardi who is responsible directly and indirectly for some of the greatest and most important contributions to modern chiropractic philosophy and practice has given us a term that demands study and analysis. He said recently that the mission of the chiropractic profession is the center of the profession. Whenever Dr. Gelardi speaks, he makes me think and for that I will always be grateful to him for he increases my knowledge and understanding. He was the first to teach that all other professions are defined by their objective. I used that phrase in my 1994 text, Refined by Fire, the Evolution of Straight Chiropractic, describing the approach to chiropractic that began with the opening of Sherman College and the formation of the FSCO (now the IFCO). At the time, I did not think to give Dr. Gelardi the proper recognition for that philosophical breakthrough or at least the term. Primarily because I only saw it as a period of the evolution of straight chiropractic. Dr. Mark Romano is largely responsible for it becoming a description of a segment of the profession. I would like to rectify that omission now, acknowledging the term came from the teaching of Thomas A. Gelardi.
At the 2014 IRAPS, Dr. Gelardi used the term vertebral subluxation centered (VSC- not to be confused with the vertebral subluxation complex, a term coined by the late Dr. Joe Flesia). This along with describing the mission of chiropractic and the emergence of Objective (straight) chiropractic has created conflicts among some of the profession. As B.J. said, Conflicts Clarify. Hopefully an understanding of these terms and how they relate to present day chiropractic will create a clarification for at least a certain segment of the profession.
The mission of the profession is the center of the profession, according to Dr. Gelardi and he most astutely observes that there is a “vertebral subluxation centered segment of the profession.” However, by doing that he is acknowledging, and rightly so, that there is also a non-vertebral subluxation centered segment of the profession, which might be described as “therapeutic centered chiropractic.” This segment of the profession may include those who would like to remove the word subluxation from the profession’s lexicon, to those who would like to add everything from physical therapeutics up to and including the prescription of pharmaceutical drugs. While these chiropractors are not the focus of our attention here, they do represent a significant, perhaps even a majority of the profession and should be considered in any professional description. In an effort to help clarify these terms as they relate to the chiropractic profession, I would like to combine all of those who utilize or would like to utilize some type of therapeutic/medical procedure into one group and consider them under the title “therapeutic chiropractic” (how’s that for an oxymoron?).
In a talk given at the ACP on October 17th, prior to IRAPS, Dr. Gelardi said that “the mission of the profession is the center of the profession.” The mission according to the dictionary and applied to us is “the task, the understanding, the work” of the chiropractor. I think those in the VSCentered segment would agree that the center of that task/work is the location, analysis , and facilitating the correction of vertebral subluxation (LACVS) .

The Mission of Chiropractic is to locate analyze and correct vertebral subluxations
Here is the problem: while the mission of the profession has at its center, the LACVS, that does not describe its objective or give us a complete picture of what and why a chiropractor does what he does. I think, and I would hope that Dr. Gelardi would agree, that the objective and the mission are two totally different concepts, and while the mission should not be ignored, neither should the objective. When President Bush stood on that aircraft carries with the sign “mission accomplished”, that did not mean that the objective, defeating Saddam Hussein had been accomplished, just one aspect or part of that objective. Dr. Gelardi says that “the mission of chiropractic is to contribute to health by correcting vertebral subluxations” and he may see that as synonymous with our objective. However, as he has previously taught, it cannot define us as a profession. There are numerous procedures, including the practice of medicine that contribute to health (at least as the term “health” is commonly understood). There is nothing in our chiropractic philosophy’s 33 principles that relate to health. There is nothing in the definition of chiropractic, at least in B.J.’s/RWS’s 1927 definition that mentions health. If the mission of chiropractic is to contribute to health, by correcting vertebral subluxation that creates little difference between us and any “health care” profession. That may be why chiropractors want to add other procedures to contribute to people’s health and why other health care providers want to add chiropractic “procedures” to their contribution to health care. In my opinion we must clearly differentiate what different chiropractors do and what chiropractors do that is different. I think that should be done by, as Dr. Gelardi said 40 years ago, by defining us by our objective. If the mission is to LACVS then the objective is the reason or why we do that. The original reason for correcting vertebral subluxations was to cure deafness. The traditional chiropractic objective was/is to get sick people well. Both are worthwhile objectives. So is the idea of contributing to the health of individuals and society in general. There are a number of wonderful objectives in vertebral subluxation correction. It is not our place to judge the value or the validity of those objectives. Some can be described as follows:

a. to contribute to the health of the individual.
b. to get sick people well.
c. to cure disease or its cause.
d. to remove the cause of DIS-EASE.
e. to improve human potential.
f. to enable the forces of the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed.

It seems to me that a, b, and c are all health/disease related and as such represent an alternative to or duplication of medicine, just using a different method (the LACVS). “e” is Spinology and “f” is merely a clarification of “d” (principles #28-31). All of the above may be worthwhile objectives. Some need to be proven by empirical research and some can only be demonstrated deductively. All are practiced partially or fully by members of the chiropractic community, some by a greater percentage than others.

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This article has 4 comments

  1. Steve 11/04/2014, 4:59 pm:

    He Joe,
    Thom spoke of being “subluxation centered” 20 years ago at the KRJ Philosophy Forum, in deference to ( I believe Sid’s term) “subluxation based”. He emphasized that adding anything to the term subluxation added to the concept or practice of chiropractic. In deed, cannot a subluxation “centered” chiro. add therapy, after the innate force has been restored by an adjustment? Thom’s argument against “subluxation based” implying that other things may be placed on top of the adjustment. If I was to tell you I was “primarily” a subluxation chiropractor, would you not wonder what my secondary goal was.
    Oh how I long for the good old days when being a chiropractor meant you adjusted spines to restore nerve tone. In fact, that was DD’s original goal, not curing deafness.
    Oh by the way, I am a philosophically based, subluxation focused, patient centered chiropractor. Try saying that fast ten times…

    • Straight DC 11/04/2014, 7:00 pm:

      I know it is good to go deep to clarify what exactly it is that we do & why. But I have to agree with you, Steve, that adjusting spines to restore tone pretty much says it all. And was this not D.D.’s original definition?

    • Bryson 11/04/2014, 7:27 pm:

      Points well taken. I know of some straight DCs that use the term “adjustment-based/centered” chiropractic because a “subluxation-based/centered” DC may use nutrition, rehab or other therapies to address the subluxation. It’s unfortunate that we have some many confused DCs in our profession never learned chiropractic in their respective “chiropractic” schools.

  2. Mix 11/05/2014, 5:13 pm:

    Joe- It seems good reason to me that there should be no distinctive “types” of chiropractors at all. You either are practicing chiropractic, or you are not. Of course, when I make this statement in a public forum there is always one individual that makes the following statement, “why do you get to decide what the practice of chiropractic is?”. The answer simply is that no one has the right to change the definition of chiropractic.
    As a profession I see chiropractic as already defined. There already is a definition of chiropractic. It is our job as the professional of this profession, to know what chiropractic is and how to practice it.

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