Chiropractic Thoughts

Chiropractic Thoughts by J.R. Drain is the first book in our new Chiropractic Classics series. I am very excited about this! Drain was one of the most prominent chiropractors in the first half of the twentieth century. He was a voice for chiropractic and shared his views prominently. The book itself is a treasure, which you can read about in the preface to the 2013 edition below. My hope is to republish several more classics in 2014. In this way we might begin to understand much more about the history of the philosophy of chiropractic. We may even start to develop an academic discipline of philosophy in the chiropractic profession. Below is a photo of Drain studying at Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1911 or 1912. The photo along with his books were shared with me by his granddaughter, Gayle Kauffman Drain. Thank you Gayle for all of your help to make this project a reality.

Philosophy of Chiropractic

J.R. Drain studying the philosophy of chiropractic in 1911 or 1912.


Preface to the 2013 Edition of Chiropractic Thoughts by J.R. Drain

Chiropractic Thoughts by J.R. Drain is an important book for the history and philosophy of chiropractic. The first edition of the book was published in 1927. It was mainly comprised of Drain’s lectures and other thoughts for his students. In the early days of the Texas Chiropractic College, which Drain and his two associates purchased in 1919, students read the Palmer “Green Books,” which were texts from the Palmer School of Chiropractic, Drain’s alma mater. The only chiropractic references in Chiropractic Thoughts are Green Book volumes II, III, and V. In later years, the TCC, like most proprietary schools of that era only used ‘in-house’ texts. According to Jim Russell, a 1948 graduate of TCC, you could not find a Green Book on campus because the schools were competitors. Thus Chiropractic Thoughts served as the main text on philosophy for decades of TCC graduates.

The book itself is an excellent example of the first generation of chiropractic concepts. The first generation of chiropractic is delineated by the 33 year period after D.D. Palmer’s death in 1913. Drain graduated from the Palmer school in 1911. Even though D.D. Palmer was not affiliated with the school at that point, Drain took 13 lessons directly from the founder, presumably between the years 1911 and 1913 during Palmer’s visits to Davenport. Drain wrote that D.D. Palmer, “taught me to find ‘it,’ any joint of the body, adjust ‘it’ and then leave it alone. To him I am grateful.”(11)


Origins of the Philosophy of Chiropractic

Chiropractic Thoughts is also significant because it captures the early philosophical concepts of B.J. Palmer and to a lesser degree, John Craven, who graduated from PSC in 1912. Craven’s contributions to B.J. Palmer’s 1909 text, The Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume V is one of the least understood and most significant additions to the philosophy of chiropractic in the decade after D.D. Palmer’s death. The second edition of “Vol. 5” was coauthored by Craven and published in 1916. Craven’s chapters on Innate Intelligence, Universal Intelligence, and the Normal Complete Cycle contributed to the philosophy in significant ways. Chiropractic Thoughts includes a chapter on retracing, a concept from the second edition of Vol. 5, and also uses Craven’s terminology defining Innate Intelligence as the “semi-source,” and Universal Intelligence as the “source” of life. Drain attended every Lyceum from 1911 to 1926, so he would certainly have been aware of B.J. Palmer’s and Craven’s writings.

Craven taught R.W. Stephenson, author of the Chiropractic Textbook published in 1927 and required reading at the PSC. Republished in 1948, Stephenson’s text is one of the most popular works on the philosophy of chiropractic. The text is often referenced because Stephenson summed up the philosophy to that point in his axiomatic thirty-three principles. During the first 75 years of chiropractic history, seventy-five percent of the chiropractic profession graduated from the PSC. This may be another reason why Stephenson’s book is more well-known than Drain’s.


Drain and Stephenson

Chiropractic Thoughts was published the same year as Stephenson’s text and contains many of the same ideas. There are however, significant differences between the texts. First and foremost is perspective. Not only did Drain write from the first-person perspective, but he intentionally wrote the book in plain language as an attempt to make the philosophy easier to comprehend for the average reader. Stephenson wrote from the third-person perspective, a more objective style, and relied on what he called “deductive geometry.” Also, in contrast to Stephenson, who graduated in 1921 and immediately started teaching, Drain’s text comes after eleven years of practicing chiropractic and seven years of teaching students. It is a book filled with real world examples, heartfelt compassion, and practical application.

While Drain’s book breaks from Stephenson and from B.J. Palmer in a few instances, the primary ideas are virtually identical. The book is thus an erudite and concise explanation of the philosophy of chiropractic’s earliest theories. For example, like other authors of the period such as Carver and Loban, Drain suggests that all diseases are associated with vertebral subluxations. He also viewed vertebral subluxation as the “physical representative of the cause of disease.” And, going back to B.J. Palmer’s lost concept of acute mild subluxations from 1909 in the first edition of Vol. 5, Drain considered it Innate’s job to correct subluxations, especially during sleep. This concept did not make it into the 1916 edition of Vol. 5 and does not exist in Stephenson’s text.

Drain’s writings on the Normal Complete Cycle, Innate Contraction of Forces, Intellectual Adaptation, Innate Intelligence, and Adjusting are just a few of the core concepts. According to Drain, chiropractors study life. Innate Intelligence uses the body’s natural resistive force to adapt to the environment. When the natural resistive force is lowered, the body is susceptible to disease, or, “the absence of life being expressed in the tissue cells.” When concussions of forces are awkwardly adapted to or awkwardly applied, abnormal vibrations are produced, which center on the spine and cause vertebral subluxations. Drain recommends adjusting the vertebral subluxations in one or two areas (no more than three). Adjusting in a limited area concentrates the force; too many areas scatters the force.

Drain was a pioneer in the chiropractic care of acute cases. He took the sickest cases and grew his practice, which got up to 100 patients per day at one point, primarily on house-calls. In the book he offers guidelines for care of acute and chronic cases, child adjusting, pregnancy, palpation, as well as ways to practice “touch.” Much of his adjusting instructions were written in the context of his 1926 adjusting manual, Why Majors Change? I hope to make his other books available in the near future as part of this series in Chiropractic Classics. Drain’s approach to all cases was to find the cause of the life not being expressed and adjust it.


Drain and Harper

Another important reason to study Drain’s book in the context of the history of the philosophy of chiropractic is that he was mentor to William Harper. Harper’s, Anything Can Cause Anything is a significant work from the 2nd generation of chiropractic. Harper’s book was written as an update and summation of D.D. Palmer’s core principles. It might also be viewed as a response and reaction to the work of Drain. For example, Drain wrote that, “the normal amount of force going through the normal amount of matter in the normal amount of time gives us health.” Harper, wrote that disease was “function out of time with need.”

Besides the core concepts of cycles, health, and disease, which Harper builds upon from Drain, his theory of irritation is significant. Drain’s chapter critiquing the concept of “irritation” of the nervous system as the cause of disease seems like a direct attack on Harper’s text, which was written forty years later! Their use of the term “irritation” is not identical, and Harper’s book relies on Speransky and several contemporary texts for the time, and yet, contrasting the two offers us new insight. Harper decided that normal irritation comes from Innate or the organismic consciousness, which gives rise to what D.D. Palmer referred to as “tone.” Disease is when something besides Innate (mechanical, chemical, or psychic) is irritating the nervous system, resulting in abnormal function. For Drain, this line of thinking deviates too far from chiropractic because anything might cause irritation. He writes, “We are only interested in what is wrong with the transmission of life force from the brain to the tissue cell, which is causing the tissue cell to be abnormal.” By understanding Drain, we might better understand Harper and how his work evolved from the earlier era. We may even find within the writings of these philosophers keys to unlock the conflicts in chiropractic today.

One thing that is evident upon studying Chiropractic Thoughts; the philosophy of chiropractic was originally viewed as a completely new way of looking at the world, life, health, and disease. Drain’s vision for a healthier world without suffering, pain, infirmity, mental illness, and one where children will be healthier with each new generation is compelling. He did not think the world was ready in 1927 for the philosophy and yet, the more he studied it, the more he felt it was the most important thing in the world. He wrote, “I want every one of you to enlighten people on the Philosophy of Chiropractic—talk to your one patient or your twenty patients or your hundred patients as your ambition goes today. Every one of you have the ambition to adjust 100 patients a day. I had the same ambition but now I am interested in having people hear the Philosophy of Chiropractic and then live it.” Chiropractic is now in its 4th generation, perhaps it is a good time for us to try very hard to understand what Drain meant by those words. Read this book and you will know.


A Must Read/Rare Gem

I have tried to diligently reproduce this text based on the original. The second edition of Chiropractic Thoughts was published in 1946, with very few changes. I opted to reproduce the first edition with a few side notes from the second edition included. The only significant update in the second edition was Part III titled, Mind and My Pencil, a series of incredible letters written to chiropractors. I have decided to reproduce Mind and My Pencil as a separate book altogether. Also, the second edition contained a table of contents rather than an index labeled “contents” like the first edition. I included the table of contents at the front of the book. I will post the indexed terms online along with the references from this preface and other supporting materials. The index was too difficult to reproduce in book form based upon the changes in page numbers for this edition as well as Drain’s unique indexing style. I have kept Drain’s use of the em dash as his way of capturing “language of the street,” and I also kept his use of terminology such as “co-ordination” and “re-establish.” The sentence lectures at the end of the book are in the same format he originally used.

Writings on philosophy from the first generation of chiropractors are extremely rare. This book was almost lost to the current generation. I would like to thank Gayle Drain Kauffman, granddaughter of J.R. Drain for her incredible support. I would also like to thank Steve Walton, D.C.,for assisting in the editing process. Please enjoy the book as a window into another time, a doorway to chiropractic’s earliest and most seminal concepts.


1. J.R. Drain. 1927/2013. Chiropractic Thoughts. Integral Altitude: Asheville, NC. (quotes from pages: 24, 124, 64, & 243).****
2. Keaing, J. 1998. Chronology of the Texas Chiropractic College (pre-1949).
3. Keating, J., Davison, R. 1997. That “Down in Dixie” School: Texas Chiropractic College Between the Wars. Chiropractic History. 17(1).***
4. Palmer, B.J. 1907. The Science of Chiropractic: Eleven physiological lectures. Volume 2. Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA.
5. Palmer, B.J. 1908. The Philosophy and Principles of Chiropractic Adjustments; A series of Twenty-four lectures. Volume 3. Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA.
6. Palmer, B.J. 1909. The Philosophy of Chiropractic. Volume 5. Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA.
7. Senzon, S. 2013. Chiropractic’s Fourth Generation. Dr. Senzon’s Blog: Chiropraction. September 30.
8. Dye, A. 1939. The evolution of chiropractic: Its discovery and development. Philadelphia: A.E. Dye.
9.  Rehm, W. 1980. Who was who in chiropractic: a necrology. Who’s who in chiropractic International: History-Education. Littleton, CO.
10. Maynard, J. 1982. Healing hands: The story of the Palmer family discoverers and developers of chiropractic. Revised edition. MS: Jonorm Publishers
11. Drain, JR. 1956. Introduction. We walk again. Unpublished. (Spears papers, Cleveland Chiropractic College of Kansas City). (3)
12. Craven, J. 1919. Universal Intelligence. In Palmer, B. and Craven, J. 1916. Philosophy of Chiropractic. Davenport, Palmer College of Chiropractic.*
13. Craven, J. 1919. Innate Intelligence. In Palmer, B. and Craven, J. 1916. Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*
14.  Craven, J. 1919. Mental. In Palmer, B. and Craven, J. 1916. Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*
15.    Craven, J. 1919. Innate Mind – Educated Mind. In Palmer, B. and Craven, J. 1916. Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*
16, Senzon, S. 2013.  Chiropractic History. Dr. Senzon’s Blog: Chiropraction. March 13.
17. Palmer, B.J. and Craven, J. 1916. The philosophy of chiropractic. Palmer College of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA.
18. Stephenson, R., Chiropractic textbook. 1927, Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport.
19. Ralph W. Stephenson. 1927. Thirty Three Principles. In Chiropractic textbook: Volume 14. Davenport: Palmer School of Chiropractic.
20. Carver, W. 1936/2002. History of Chiropractic, ed. J. Keating. National Institute of Chiropractic Research.
21. Loban, J. 1916 Technic and practice of chiropractic. Loban Publishing Company.
22. Drain, J.R. 1926. Why Majors Change. Indianapolis, IN: Chiropractic Research and Review Service.
23. Drain, J.R. 1933. The Jim Drain System of Adjusting.
24. Drain, J. 1949. Man tomorrow. San Antonio, TX: Standard Print Company.
25. Keating, J. 2007. Chronology of William D. Harper, Jr., M.S., D.C. (1908-1990). National Institute of Chiropractic Research.
26. Harper, W., Anything Can Cause Anything: A Correlation of Dr. Daniel David Palmer’s Principles of Chiropractic. 1997: Texas Chiropractic College.
27. Speransky, A., A basis for the theory of medicine. 1943, USA: International Publishers Co, Inc. Available!
28. Drain, J.R. Chiropractic Thoughts, second edition. 1946.
29. Wikipedia: Em Dash definition.

****Chiropractic Thoughts is now available in pre-sale. Expected ship dates begin January 2, 2014.

***Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.

*Quoted from Sinnott, R. (1997). The Greenbooks: A collection of timeless Chiropractic works – by those who lived it! Mokena, IL, Chiropractic books.

In The Matter of The Preservation of Chiropractic


The chiropractic profession is at a crossroads once again. This is not the first time. Over sixty years ago, the leaders of the profession stood strong and issued an ultimatum to all professional associations and groups. You can read the text of their address called IN THE MATTER OF THE PRESERVATION OF CHIROPRACTIC as part of the larger history of education in chiropractic. This dialogue is part of an ongoing series with Drs. Senzon, Kent, and Gentempo. The future is bright for chiropractic. The choices we make and courage and perspective with which we move forward will determine what that future looks like.

Chiropractic’s Fourth Generation

After listening to this lecture, Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, philosophy chair of the NYCC wrote,

“Green Books, Blue books I have read a lot of them… but no one gives you the historical perspective of our profession’s rich philosophical development like Simon does! It was like walking through history with his awesome collection of photos and stories I never heard before!”

If you enjoyed this short segment, please check out the previous blog post called Chiropractic Lineage. Please check back often as new courses and articles will be posted in the near future.

This lecture was the beginning of a talk given by Dr. Senzon on September 28, 2013 at the New Yorker Hotel for the New York Chiropractic Council’s Saturday Night Live in conjunction with the League of Chiropractic Women’s Art of Brilliance Seminar. The rest of Dr. Senzon’s talk will be available soon.

Chiropractic Winter


The Philosophy of Chiropractic is ready for Spring

Learn how chiropractic’s politics might be unified through philosophy. This excerpt from Dr. Senzon’s online course on Chiropractic Principles opens up the door way to start viewing chiropractic in a new way.

Related Resources:

Constructing a philosophy of chiropractic article series.

D.D. Palmer’s philosophical lineage.

Simon’s online courses for continuing education.

Here is a classic photo from the video above

B.J. Palmer and D.D. Palmer, the originators of the philosophy of chiropractic.

B.J. Palmer and D.D. Palmer, the originators of the philosophy of chiropractic.


Chiropractic Epigrams

Several people have asked me why I republished B.J. Palmer’s epigrams. After all, most of the epigrams may be found free online. Of course if you read the preface or the introduction to the book you would know why I created the book!

The epigrams are awesome! That is the simplest answer as to why. The book simply sorts them by topic so that you may easily find an epigram that resonates with the moment you are in.

I discussed the book just before it came out with Drs. Kent and Gentempo. Please check out the short video of our conversation here:

Just before completing the book, I asked Thom Gelardi, founder of Sherman College to write a foreword. I knew that Thom found the epigrams a source of inspiration and great meaning. When I attended Sherman, epigrams were everywhere! I was honored when he wrote in the foreword, “Simon Senzon’s categorization of the epigrams from B. J. Palmer’s book, As a Man Thinketh, is, if not a stroke of genius, a great bounty to many. “ Categorizing the epigrams was one motivation.  And yet, there is more to it.

A Discipline of Philosophy

This book is part of a larger project of developing a discipline of philosophy in chiropractic. It also contributes to the history by expanding on the epigrams and also linking them to B.J. Palmer’s later philosophy.

This approach is consistent with two of my previous books, where I organized quotes from D.D. and B.J. Palmer along specific topics. Many people have told me they keep those books at their desks for daily inspiration. In fact we have found it so difficult to keep the B.J. book in stock, we are currently putting together an expanded 10th anniversary edition, which will be printed on demand!

The hope of the epigram book was to offer nuggets of wisdom for a new generation of chiropractors in an easy and accessible format. The deeper vision was to demonstrate how these epigrams are part of the philosophy of chiropractic.

Thots in Action*

The epigrams represent thots in action. This was an important part of B.J. Palmer’s philosophical approach to life and learning. His enactive approach often gets overlooked. Here is a classic epigram from B.J., which demonstrates what I mean,

Why these epigrams?

What is before you, is seen.

What is being seen, is read.

What is being read, is thot.

What is being thot, is acted.

What is acted, is YOU.

—BJ Palmer

As a Man Thinketh


This is not ordinary thinking. This is thinking in action, something B.J. tried to instill in his students and give to the world. This approach is consistent with his view of innate intelligence as a super consciousness rather than merely as part of the subconscious mind.

Living bodies are intelligence in action. Adaptation to the environment or the universal forces is intelligence in action. The quote above captures this. You are your thots in action!

But how do you use the Educated Intelligence, which is a subset of the innate intelligence, to further express your own being? How to bring thot into action? Epigrams! (Epigrams are at least one way!)

I realize this may seem overly simplistic to some. After all, several of the epigrams were just silly, like “Deliver your message to Garcia,” written in the employee’s bathroom. And yet that was part of the magic. Epigrams everywhere on the campus helped to create a distinct cultural milieu, one in which thot in action was at the heart of the philosophy.

I will write more on enaction and language and how they relate to the philosophy of chiropractic in the future. I also plan to include these topics as part of the next series of courses. In the meantime, remember the classics, “We never know how far reaching something we may think, say, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow,” and “Get the Big Idea; all else follows.” These two epigrams are exellent examples of thots in action.


  1. BJ Palmer AU: BJ Palmer epigrams.
  2. Senzon SA. (2010). Introduction to Success Health and Happiness.
  3. Senzon SA. (2010). Success, Health, and Happiness: The Epigrams of B.J. Palmer. Integral Altitude: Asheville.
  4. Kent and Gentempo. On Purpose
  5. Gelardi, T. (2010). Foreword to Success, Health, and Happiness.
  6. Senzon, SA. (2004). The Spiritual Writings of B.J. Palmer.
  7. Senzon, SA. (2006). The Secret History of Chiropractic: The Spiritual Writings of D.D. Palmer.
  8. Palmer, BJ. As a Man Thinketh.

More on Epigrams:

Gromola, T. (1985). Broadsides, epigrams, and testimonials: The evolution of chiropractic advertising. Chiropractic History, 4(1), 41-45.**

Gilman, C. (1996). Epigrammania Revisited. Chiropractic History, 16(2), 81-82.**

Wiese, G. (2003). With head, heart, and hands: Elbert Hubbard’s impact on B.J. Palmer. Chiropractic History, 23(2), 27-35.**

Palmer, BJ. 1952. Idle Space Works. Answers: Volume 28. PCC. Page 426.***

One of the earliest books known from D.D. Palmer’s personal collection was:
Wright, M. (1870). The moral aphorisms and terseological teachings of Confucius: The sapient Chinese philosopher. Battle Creek, Michigan

More on Enaction:

The Observer Web: Autopoiesis and Enaction

John Stewart and Tom Froese. 2010. Life after Ashby: Ultra-stability and the autopoietic foundations of biological autonomy. Cybernetics and Human Knowing. Vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 7-50

Tom Froese and John Stewart. (2011). Enactive cognitive science and biology of cognition: A response to Humberto Maturana.

Marek McGann. Enactive Cognition: A cognition briefing.

*B.J. was inspired by Elbert Hubbard to use a modified writing style to economize space on the page. Thus “thought” became “thot.”

**Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.

***from Sinnott, R. (1997). The Greenbooks: A collection of timeless Chiropractic works – by those who lived it! Mokena, IL, Chiropractic books.

Chiropractic GTD

B.J. Palmer was an expert at getting things done! Unfortunately, not much has been written about his method. This was probably because he didn’t just get things done, he developed his own habit of listening to what he called, Innate thought flashes (what I refer to as ITFs). For some in the profession, this philosophical approach was probably a bit weird and for others it was more like a holy writ. The methodology B.J. developed to take action never really caught on.

B.J. wrote, “WHEN Innate thot-flashes came, they MUST BE accepted for full face value and acted upon AT ONCE,” [1](p. 116).*

With a pad and pen in his pocket and by his bedside, Palmer wrote down or acted on everything that flashed. With this action oriented approach to his inspirations, he pioneered chiropractic education, philosophy, technique, research, science, and legal strategy, while also pioneering radio, television, and advertising. In the process he published dozens of books and hundreds of articles.


The core of B.J.’s method as well as his philosophical explanation were amazingly similar to GTD developed by David Allen.[2] GTD is the most popular methodology on the planet today for getting things done (personally and professionally). A simple google search for “GTD” turns up 13,300,000 results!

Both methods share the principle that if you capture every idea you open the floodgate for intuitive action and inspiration. Allen calls this state, “mind like water.”[3]

I have written about ITFs in terms of states and levels of consciousness as well as the role ITFs may have played in B.J.’s unique leadership style.[4] The following video is an excerpt from a four-hour online CE course I developed on B.J.’s life. This section of the course explores his later writings and how his philosophy evolved in his final years.[5]

The ITF was one of his last contributions to the philosophy of chiropractic and in my view a crucial one for all chiropractors seeking to master the game of life and impact the profession in profound and positive ways.

I have not explored B.J.’s methodology for getting things done in great detail. Nor have I explored how I use it in conjunction with GTD and TSW (or The Secret Weapon). I think it is time start.

The ITF Divide in VS Chiropractic

A divide within the vertebral subluxation focused side of the chiropractic profession around the ITF still exists. The objective straight chiropractic movement, influenced by Gold and Gelardi deemphasized this aspect of B.J.’s later philosophy in order to focus solely on vertebral subluxation. The Life movement mainly influenced by Williams and his Dynamic Essentials strongly emphasized ITFs as part of the chiropractic lifestyle. Viewing ITFs as a methodology offers a way to bring these two sides together and more importantly, give some very practical tools to the profession to get things done!

ITF Practices

One of the keys for B.J. was to capture every idea. If he couldn’t act on it at once, he at least wrote it down. He learned this habit over the years through trial and error. He noticed that at night it was easier for ITFs to break through to the conscious educated mind due to the sleepiness factor. The brain was more relaxed and allowed the inspirations to get in. He also suggested that any method one could use to just relax the brain will help to develop the ability to listen for these insights.

Two important ITF practices were noted; 1) act on the idea right away because these inspirations are always more effective than the ideas the educated brain comes up with, and 2) write down the idea when it comes (if you couldn’t act on it right away). B.J. recommended keeping a pad and pencil next to the bed to develop the habit of writing the ITFs down. He cautions that not doing so will lead to losing the idea when the educated mind takes over in the morning. Also, you won’t develop the habit of trusting the ITFs and thus you will lose the connection to this fount of inner wisdom. Palmer writes,

“Silently, Innate sneaks upon your sleepy self. Innate flashes answers so you MAY have them. Instead of getting up, having a pad and pencil handy along-side your bed, writing while the idea is in full clarity, you roll over on the other side, education saying “I’ll remember that tomorrow and then I’ll think about it and if it is worth while will write it.” Right THERE AND THEN you made your BIG mistake! In the morning, education is top man again. Innate is back in its retreat, doing only those things it has to do to keep physical functions in motion. You didn’t CAPTURE that idea when Innate WANTED TO and WAS WILLING TO GIVE; so you educationally lost it. The more this indifference occurs this way, the more Innate becomes discouraged and eventually ignores YOU because YOU ignored Innate, until it becomes a fixed habit both ways, each ignoring the other.”[6] (p.63)

It is fascinating to me how similar B.J.’s concept is to David Allen’s methodology. GTF is much easier because it is part of a five part process ((1) collect/capture, (2) process, (3) organize, (4) decide, (5) act). I can only assume that B.J. had his own way to systematically put ITFs into action. Before discussing how GTD and TSW may be used to expand on B.J.’s method, I want to make one more philosophy note.

B.J.’s Philosophical Rationale for ITFs

The philosophical criticism against ITFs goes something like this; The ITF process does not directly apply to the innate intelligence as the organizer of the biological processes and thus is not directly pertinent to the essence of chiropractic, or the correction of vertebral subluxation. (Of course there are other more cynical criticisms of ITFs, which generally dismiss it along with much of the philosophy.) B.J. addresses at least the first criticism. To him, ITFs are a logical extension of the philosophy of innate intelligence. Continuing from the passage above he writes,

“The ordinary human being has what are commonly called “hunches, intuitions, instinct, wee sma’ voice,” and sometimes a “conscience.” There are FIVE accounted for. There are other senses unaccounted for which birds and animals have. When asleep, certain ones are dormant. Others are on the job, such as hearing, smelling, feeling, etc.

Suppose at night, while asleep, the baby cries, telephone rings, a fire occurs, a prowler breaks in, you become too cold or too warm. Innate HEARS the baby, the fone ring, the prowler in the room; your nose smells smoke; if cold or hot, you pull up or throw off blankets. All these can awaken EDUCATION. These are typical thot-flashes FROM Innate TO education.” [6](p.64)

He reasons that the ITFs are biologically based. They extend to the wider spectrum of your life, not just the emergencies of the senses. (He even claims to have measured the thot-flash in his research clinic.)

But when it comes down to it, his method of listening to Innate was very practical. He applied it in business and according to Maynard; there was a point where B.J.’s board of directors trusted his ITFs over their educated ideas.[7] The success of his radio and television endeavors was the result.**

Mind Like Water

David Allen defines his concept of mind like water as follows, “A mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.”[8] This is exactly the state B.J. refers to. B.J. even suggested that yogis would be great chiropractors because of their ability to attune to the infinite for days at a time.[9]( p.22) For Allen, when every single action in your life is collected on one master list and your brain trusts you will use the list appropriately to engage with your world, your mind is free and empty to be in the NOW.

B.J. taught a few methods that worked for him after decades of practice. Allen developed his methodology from coaching executives for many years. His system is very detailed and extremely worthwhile for those who choose to master it, what he calls, becoming a blackbelt at “knowledge-work athletics.”

According to Allen, the key to getting to such a state is to first capture every single idea in your head and then put it into a system sorted by context (where you can take the action – work, home, phone, errands), energy level (how much juice do you have to take action), and horizon (is the action part of a larger project related to specific goals, as part of a bigger vision, connected to your life’s purpose?). When your brain trusts you won’t lose the great ideas, your mind is clear and inspiration may flow in. This is where GTD may assist chiropractors to implement what B.J. taught.

GTD goes beyond B.J.’s method of just finding the times in your day when educated is quiet, it relies on you creating that space in your mind all day every day by applying the GTD methodology. You capture everything and then review it once per week as a habit. Soon the brain learns to trust and you can respond to daily challenges fluidly, intuitively, and with a mind like water.

According to Allen, one’s ability to intuitively know what actions to take throughout the day is born of practicing the habit.

  1. B.J. Palmer. 1955. Chiropractic Philosophy, Science and Art: What it does, How it does it, and Why it does it. PSC.
  2. David Allen. 2002. Getting Things Done. Penguin Books.
  3. David Allen. 2008. Your mind deserves a promotion. Huffington Post.
  4. Simon Senzon. 2010. B.J. Palmer: An Integral Biography. JITP.
  5. Simon Senzon. 2011. Online CE Course on the Life of B.J. Palmer
  6. B.J. Palmer. 1961. How does innate contact education? The Glory of Going On. PSC
  7. Joseph Maynard. 1959. Healing Hands. Jonorm Publisher.
  8. David Allen defines Mind Like Water.
  9. B.J. Palmer. 1958. Palmer’s Law of Life. PSC.

* He usually used the shortened-English style of “thought,” as “thot.” In his final book, he used the full “thought,” rather than “thot.”
** Chronology of RadioPhone Station WOC 1922-1932.

Chiropractic Bigness

DD Palmer Generations

In a recent interview I did with Drs. Kent and Gentempo, we explored the work of RJ Watkins, a true pioneer of chiropractic. The interview is reproduced here with images and a few more details about Watkins’ life.


The thing that excites me the most about exploring chiropractic history and philosophy by looking at individuals is the Bigness of chiropractic. Gentempo really made this clear towards the end of our discussion. He suggests chiropractors should look back and not just forward to the next new thing. The Bigness is unmistakable when you do.

The book that changed my life more than most was B.J. Palmer’s Bigness of the Fellow Within. The book sat on the shelf in my chiropractor’s lending library. I used to arrive early to study the gems inside.

For me, it was especially exciting because I had been going to chiropractors since age four and had never heard of B.J. I had already completed a bachelors degree in history, with a focus on European intellectual history. My emphasis was the vitalistic philosophers. At the time of discovering the Bigness, I was completing my masters degree in philosophy.

So when I came to B.J.’s writings for the first time, I was primed and ready. Reading B.J. was actually a break for me from studying Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, as well as Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. The subtitle of my thesis was Plato and the Body, Mind, Soul!

In B.J.’s writings I found something rare. He was able to write from a different voice than most of us access. He not only wrote about classic issues from the history of philosophy but he wrote from the perspective of the Bigness (much of the time anyway). Knowing about something is one thing; embodying it is another, and being able to speak or write from that embodied knowing is extremely rare indeed.

Research into the linguistics used by individuals at very complex levels of knowing and being has been documented. It fact, there is a whole field of study called Constructive Development. I explored this in detail in a recent paper on B.J.’s life. But no amount of words may convey the Bigness.

As Thom Gelardi said recently, “like Zen…if you fill their cup with chiropractic, there won’t be room for anything else!”

Rather than take you through B.J.s writings, I suggest you go and get the book! There are also several resources on this site and our other sites, where you may explore this Bigness in greater detail.

The Bigness of chiropractic is so simple and yet it has many dimensions. The chiropractic adjustment at the right time, in the right place, with the right amount of force, in the right direction, is the basic dimension. Knowing the power of the innate within is yet another dimension. Knowing the relation of your innate to the infinite of which it is a drop, is yet another. The dimensions go on and on. Bigness.


Cook-Greuter, S.

Firth, J. (1923). Chiropractic Symptomatology

Kent, C., Gentempo, P. (2013). On Purpose

Palmer, BJ. (1949). The Bigness of the Fellow Within.

Palmer, BJ. (1959). Giant vs. Pygmy

Senzon, SA. (2004). The Spiritual Writings of B.J. Palmer.

Senzon, SA. (2010). An Integral Biography of B.J. Palmer.

Senzon, SA. (2011). The Development of B.J. Palmer’s Principles (online course).

Senzon, SA. (2013). Chiropractic Lineage.

Watkins, RJ. (1948). From CMCC Technique Manual: Muscle Palpation.

Weiant, C., Verner, R., Watkins, RJ. (1953). Rational Bacteriology.

Watkins, RJ. (1959). Neurology of Immunization: (with later updates).

Watkins, RJ. (1975). Finger Walk.

Watkins, RJ. (1975). All or None.

Watkins, RJ. (1985). Joint Function.

Waktins, RJ. (~1990). Reflections.

Chiropractic History

We just celebrated D.D. Palmer’s 168th birthday. One hundred and sixty-eight years have passed since that fateful day on March 7, 1845. There is so much chiropractic history in such a short time one hardly knows where to begin. Without knowing our history, it is impossible to practice our philosophy. It is also impossible to move forward as a profession. Here’s a bit of history to whet your appetite…

Some Early History

D.D. Palmer became a magnetic healer in 1886, when he moved from Burlington, Iowa, to Davenport, Iowa. It was in Davenport that he gave the first chiropractic adjustment to Harvey Lillard at 4:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. The date was September 18, 1895. After christening his new practice “Chiropractic” in June, 1896 (a term suggested by his friend Rev. Samuel H. Weed), Palmer soon decided to teach it. This of course came after a near fatal train accident in 1897 in Fulton, Missouri.

D.D. started teaching palpation in 1898, with the enrollment of his first student on January 15th, Leroy Baker. Baker did not complete the course (which took from two weeks to three months). The first two graduates were William A. Seeley, a homeopath, and A.P. Davis, M.D., D.O. In those early classes, D.D. only taught adjusting of the 4th to 12th dorsal vertebra.[1]

By 1899, the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute (PICI) had three more students and the new profession was on its way to changing the world. In 1901, there were five more students. In 1902, there were four (including B.J. Palmer – son of the founder). [1, 2]

In 1902, D.D. moved to Pasadena, California for a short time, where, he was arrested for practicing medicine without a license.[3, 4] In 1904, he went back to southern California and also to Portland, Oregon. He started schools in both locations.[5]

More History

By 1907, there were at least thirty-nine schools started in Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, California, Michigan, Washington, Indiana, and Illinois.[6]

1907 was also the year coccyx was adjusted for the first time.[1] Years later in 1932, B.J. Palmer explained why they stopped adjusting coccyx. While enlarging on the 33 principles,[7] B.J. wrote,

“Cord tension was an explanation of what could happen at other end of cauda equina or tail end of spinal cord when placed under pulling action, because of a possible subluxation of sacrum or coccyx. While a great deal of work was done in adjusting possible subluxations of sacrum and coccyx, it was eventually proved what we were doing was to so strain spinal column that we were ACCIDENTALLY adjusting MAJOR subluxation at a superior place in cervical region. A simple illustration will suffice: Draw a string taut, fastening both ends…”[8]

In 1908, the first side-posture adjusting was used by Carver. There were now between 400-600 practicing chiropractors. By 1910, there were 2,000 chiropractors and atlas was adjusted for the first time.[1]

In 1912, the first “stretching device” is used by chiropractors as well as the first adjusting table with springs. The Zenith Hylo table received its first patent on June 8th of that year. Also in 1912, the National College was the first chiropractic college to introduce dissection.

John Craven – Pioneer of Chiropractic Philosophy

1912 was also the year that John Craven graduated from the PSC. Craven was one of the pioneers of chiropractic philosophy. His contributions to the core tenets of the philosophy of chiropractic should never be forgotten.[9-20] He coauthored “The Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5,” with B.J. Palmer. In the preface to the 3rd edition (1919), Craven wrote, “the expressions “Chiropractic Philosophy” and “Vol. 5” have practically become synonymous.”

Here is a brief discussion turned into a short movie about Craven between Drs. Kent, Gentempo and myself.[21]

In the preface to the 2nd edition, Craven wrote,

“There is no question but this book stands alone, it is in a class by itself so far as Chiropractic Philosophy is concerned. It contains the very latest and most recent conclusions, and will be found invaluable to every Chiropractor, as well as interesting and instructive reading for the laity. The science of Chiropractic is in its formative period, and the past few years have seen great progress along every line of Chiropractic. As nothing is permanent except change, we must expect men’s minds to keep abreast the times. Dr. Palmer has more than kept pace with his contemporaries, he has lived and is living many years in advance of his time. In the years to come this work will be more appreciated than it is now.”

History of Chiropractic

D.D. Palmer died in 1913. His ashes were placed at the Palmer School of Chiropractic on August 21st, 1921.

There are many wonderful books, chronologies, and articles exploring the history in detail. There are however too few scholarly papers on the philosophy of chiropractic. In many ways, the discipline of philosophy has been a casualty of the history of chiropractic. That is the topic of another blog post.

The Association for the History of Chiropractic is very active. Please become a member of the AHC and then be sure to join the facebook page where ongoing discussions happen daily. Also, if you are feeling adventurous you should head to Colorado this July for the 33rd annual conference: HistCon 33.[22]

Philosophy of Chiropractic Library

In honor of D.D.’s 168th birthday, we just launched the Philosophy of Chiropractic Library. The library emphasizes books and articles on the philosophy and history of chiropractic, which are accessible online and mostly free. There are also a few interesting reads on science, art, and Integral Theory. We hope you enjoy! The library will grow so check back often.[23]

It is only by mastering your knowledge of the history, philosophy, and science of chiropractic that you become a true master of your art.


1.    Evans, H. (1979). Chiropractic Historical Data. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books.

2.    Zarbuck, M. (1988). Chiropractic Parallax: Part 3. Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic. July.

3.    Keating, J. (1998). D.D. Palmer’s Lifeline.

4.    Zarbuck, M. (1988). Chiropractic Parallax: Part 1. Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic. January.

5.    Zarbuck, M. and M. Hayes, (1990). Following D.D. Palmer to the West Coast: The Pasadena Connection, 1902. Chiropractic History. 10(2): p. 17-19.  (Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.)

6.    Chiropractic Colleges started between 1896-1907. Adapted from Glenda Wiese. Alana  Callender (2007). How many chiropractic schools? An update. Chiropr Hist 27(2): 89-119.  (Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.)

7.    Ralph W. Stephenson. (1927). Thirty Three Principles. In Chiropractic textbook: Volume 14. Davenport: Palmer School of Chiropractic.

8.    Palmer, B.J. (1932). The Story of Crowding the Hour. In Clinical controlled chiropractic research; vol. 25. (1951). Davenport, IA: Palmer College. (page 510, principle 63).

9.    Craven, J. (1919). Universal Intelligence. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic. Davenport, Palmer College of Chiropractic.*

10.    Craven, J. (1919). Innate Intelligence. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

11.    Craven, J. (1919). Mental. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

12.    Craven, J. (1919). Innate Mind – Educated Mind. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

13.    Craven, J. (1919). Creation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

14.    Craven, J. (1919). Brain Cell. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

15.    Craven, J. (1919). Transformation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

16.    Craven, J. (1919). Mental Impulse. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

17.    Craven, J. (1919). Propulsion. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

18.    Craven, J. (1919). Vibration. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

19.    Craven, J. (1919). Sensation-Ideation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

20.    Craven, J. (1919). Restoration Cycle. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

21.    Senzon, S., C. Kent, and P. Gentempo. (2011). Chiropractic History with Simon Senzon: “Simon Says Segment”. On Purpose.

22.    Association for the History of Chiropractic. [AHC on Facebook]

*Quoted from Sinnott, R. (1997). The Greenbooks: A collection of timeless Chiropractic works – by those who lived it! Mokena, IL, Chiropractic books.

Chiropractic Lineage

When most people think about chiropractic lineages, chiropractic families come to mind. Chiropractic history is characterized by families like the Palmers,[1] the five generations of Clevelands and Austins,[2, 3] the Montaño-Luna family,[4] as well as other famous families like the Parkers, the Gelardis, the Clums, and the Logans. The list goes on and on.

The Palmer Philosophy Lineage

The lineage I am most excited about lately is what I am referring to as The D.D. Palmer Philosophy Lineage. It is a way to explore the philosophy of chiropractic more completely.

As one of my philosophy professors once asked, how can you develop a philosophy if you don’t know what came before you? By exploring the developments in the philosophy from each of these individuals (and more), we may evolve the philosophy further than it has gone before.

D.D. Palmer’s Sojourn in Oklahoma

After inventing chiropractic and opening his school in the late 1890s, D.D. Palmer traveled extensively between 1902 and his death in 1913. He opened schools all over the United States from Davenport to Los Angeles, Oklahoma City to Portland, Oregon. He encouraged his students to “practice and teach,” the new science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic. And they did.

By exploring the writings of his actual students, we may begin to explore the impact he had on the philosophy of chiropractic in some interesting ways. We may even better understand Palmer himself, as seen through the eyes of his disciples.

Three of his students I am currently fascinated by are Tullius de Florence Ratledge, C. Sterling Cooley, and A.T. Godzway. Each of these students met Palmer during his time in Oklahoma and studied with him in 1907.

This was just after Palmer spent 23 days in jail for practicing medicine without a license. He moved to Medford, Oklahoma, with his new wife (his fifth) and went into the grocery business for a short time. He also maintained a small clinic and school out of his home.

D.D.’s brother T.J. Palmer (publisher of the Medford Patriot), loaned D.D. $300 so that he could move to Oklahoma City and open a school. He opened the Palmer-Gregory School of Chiropractic in 1907, with Alva Gregory (a Carver-Denny grad). D.D. remained as part of that school for nine weeks due to Gregory’s teaching of medical concepts. (I wonder what D.D. would have thought when Gregory’s wife changed the name of the school in 1939 to the Palmer Gregory Chiropractic College and School of Physiotherapy?)[5]

In the spring of 1908, D.D. formed his own Palmer Fountain Head School also in Oklahoma City. By November of 1908, D.D. and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon and opened the D.D. Palmer College of Chiropractic. It was in Portland that D.D. penned his magnum opus, The Chiropractor’s Adjustor, where he sought to “adjust” the misconceptions of other chiropractors as to what chiropractic science, art, and philosophy really were.[5, 6]

T.F. Ratledge

Ratledge was an amazing individual. He received his chiropractic degree from Willard Carver. Carver opened the Carver-Denny School of Chiropractic in 1906 in Oklahoma City.[7]

Ratledge also attended D.D.’s lectures in 1907. He had Palmer and his wife, Mary, over for dinner often. They discussed all things chiropractic far into the night. D.D.’s final teaching appointment was at Ratledge’s school in Los Angeles from 1912-1913.[8]

I recently discussed aspects of Ratledge’s legacy with Drs. Kent and Gentempo.[9] Here is the conversation turned into a short video:

C.S. Cooley

Cooley was another fascinating individual. He and his father both studied chiropractic under D.D.’s tutelage in 1907. Cooley’s father was a non-practicing medical doctor. Both were so amazed by Cooley’s recovery and healing at the hands of D.D. that they became chiropractors. In 1943, Cooley wrote,

“The interest of my Father and myself was due, in part to the promptness with which the strange exponent of Innate Healing Intelligence freed me from an affliction which had defied the best of orthodox methods. Daniel David Palmer rescued me from invalidism and helped me to health. The chances are that, except for the ministrations of his gifted hands, guided by a mind which seemed never to err or falter in expressing Chiropractic principle, my voyage on “Life’s tempestuous sea” would have ended years ago.”[5]

Cooley was instrumental in leading the early NCA (the 1930s merger between the UCA and the ACA), which became the current ACA in 1963. So it is important for us to understand his philosophy of chiropractic, especially since he was a lifelong disciple of D.D., whom he referred to as “The Old Master.” I have posted several of Cooley’s articles on D.D. Palmer as well as a few other pieces he wrote.[10-14] My hope is that such a first-hand account may help us to better understand D.D. and his impact on the full spectrum of philosophy in chiropractic. (Cooley also wrote six essays on D.D.’s life in James Drain’s 1949 book Man Tomorrow.)

Only by learning all that we can about D.D. Palmer and the writings of his students can we begin to make sense of the challenges facing the profession today. They planted the seeds we now sow.

A.T. Godzway

This Oklahoma lineage of D.D.’s students would not be complete without a glimpse at A.T. Godzway, formerly EL Cooley, classmate and father of CS Cooley. According to Godzway, he bore the brunt of D.D.’s famous temperament. D.D. referred to A.T. as the “old medical fool.” This helps us to better understand D.D. as a man, with faults and challenges, like any of us. It also helps us to see how Palmer dealt with the medical paradigm. Most importantly, it gives us yet another glimpse into the first hand teaching from D.D. to one of his students.[15]

The Lineage

By exploring the writings of each of D.D.’s students and subsequently, their students, we may begin to piece together the puzzle that is the philosophy of chiropractic. While the most familiar and widely taught components of the philosophy came directly from the Palmer school, the seeds that D.D. Palmer planted were many. Which of those early students grew those seeds into important philosophical approaches to Innate, healing, subluxation, and life itself? Which ones took D.D.’s philosophy in a completely different direction, a direction he may not have approved of?

The only way to truly find out the answers to these questions is to go back and reconstruct the lineage. Only then may we move forward. Knowing what came before and knowing the pioneers of each chiropractic idea helps us to move forward into the future.

1. Palmer, D. Three generations: A history of chiropractic. 1967, Davenport, IA: Palmer College of Chiropractic. [Palmer family]

2. 5th Generation Chiropractor Graduates Palmer West. 2011.

3. Five Generations of Chiropractic. 1995. Dynamic Chiropractic.

4. Benet-Canut, E. Chiropractic in Mexico. Chiropr Hist, 2004. 24(1): p. 17-28. [Keating’s Mexico-Chiropractic-Chronology]

5. Keating, J. Chronology of Alva Gregory, M.D., D.C. 1998.

6. Palmer, D.D. The science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic. 1910, Portland, OR: Portland Printing House.

7. Carver, W. History of Chiropractic, ed. J. Keating 1936/2002: National Institute of Chiropractic Research.

8. Keating, J., R. Brown, and P. Smallie. T.F. Ratledge, the Missionary of Straight Chiropractic in California. Chiropr Hist, 1991. 11(2): p. 27-38.*

9. Kent, C. and P. Gentempo. On Purpose: Chiropractic History with Dr. Simon Senzon (quarterly segment). 2012.

10. Cooley, C. The guiding principle for success is ”To Thine Own Self Be True.” National Chiropractic Journal, 1940. 9(11): p. 11-2.**

11.  Cooley, C. One important “extra” every chiropractor should employ in his practiceNational Chiropractic Journal, 1941. 10(2): p. 11-2,44-5.**

12. Cooley, C. Daniel David Palmer: a tribute to the founder of chiropractic. The Chiropractic Journal (NCA), 1936. 5(4): p. 5-10,36.**

13.  Cooley, C. Daniel David Palmer was the first true “basic scientist.” The Chiropractic Journal (NCA), 1938. 7(3): p. 9-13.**

14. Cooley, C. Daniel David Palmer: an immortal among the great names in history. The Chiropractic Journal (NCA), 1937. 6(3): p. 7-8,50-1.**

15.  Godzway, A. “That old medical fool!” said the Old Master with great disdain! The Chiropractic Journal (NCA), 1934. 3(4): p. 5,30.**

* Republished with permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.

** Republished with permission of the ACA.

***Ratledge school list was quoted from: Wiese, G., and Callender, A. How Many Chiropractic Schools? An Update. 2007. Chiro Hist.*

Chiropractic Organicism

I recently had a long private conversation with Rupert Sheldrake about his latest research and his new book, Science Set Free.(1) We plan to talk again in a couple of months and record the conversation. This will be part of a new series of dialogues I am engaging in with leaders from various fields. The dialogues will be available online. The video below describes some of the background of the new book, which is a MUST READ for all chiropractors and chiropractic students.


Besides the main points of the book, which are described in the video, I suggest there was one important distinction Sheldrake made in our conversation that applies directly to chiropractors. It was this: he does not consider himself a Vitalist but an Organicist. This is important because the philosophy of chiropractic is more congruent with Organicism than with Vitalism (in my humble opinion).

Since the book described the historical and philosophical roots of vitalism as part of the discussions about the limitations of the materialist, mechanist, and physicalist worldview that dominates science, I asked him whether he considers himself a Vitalist. The answer was NO.

I have written in the past on the problems of using the term vitalism to describe the philosophy of chiropractic,(2) but Sheldrake’s explanation was simple and to the point. Vitalism was always about biology and how it was distinct from physics and chemistry. Organicism is rooted in the idea that the entire universe and its parts may be viewed as organic wholes nested within wholes.(3) This may be extended further whereas consciousness may be viewed as part of nature rather than apart from it.

This approach is more congruent with the philosophy of organism, systems theory, and holism, all of which have their roots in 1920s biological thought, just like the chiropractic greenbooks.

It is only recently that chiropractors have used the term vitalism. It is a term fraught with ancient baggage. Most organismic philosophers such as Sheldrake do not use it.

Science Set Free is essential for understanding the philosophy of chiropractic in a much broader context. Not only does the book explore the concepts of biological organization in terms of morphic fields and morphic resonance, that nature has purpose and consciousness, but it also opens the possibility that psychic phenomenon may be rigorously studied as natural. Sheldrake refers to this in terms of the extended mind. This is right in line with B.J. Palmer’s exploration of “That Something,” “thot flashes,” and “The Law.”

For B.J., there was an extension from the Innate Intelligence to the Universal Intelligence, a type of linkage, whereby Innate had access to many levels of information. This could then be flashed to the Educated Intelligence. I’ve written about this in detail,(4) and even compiled a book of B.J. Palmer’s quotes about it.(5)

In his famous story called “How the Law Works,” he followed the cues of his Innate on one particular occasion and took a train instead of a drive to his destination. It turned out there was a massive storm. When he arrived he walked out to the street in the cold wind. A car pulled up. The driver recognized him from his portrait hanging in his own chiropractor’s office. The man offered B.J. a ride. B.J. tells the reader that coincidences like this are natural.(6) He writes,

“When “incidents” like this “happen” consistently and persistently, time without end, year after year, under many varied conditions, it becomes a law at work…That’s how the law works between one person and another who are in tune with the law within.”(p. 57)

Sheldrake’s research and hypotheses offer a framework that connects B.J.’s insights directly to the way Innate Intelligence governs the body’s shape and form. It is an important body of work for chiropractors to understand.

To learn more about his new book please watch the video lectures and stay tuned for our upcoming dialogue.(7,8)

1. Sheldrake, R. (2012). Science Set Free: Ten Paths to New Discovery.
2. Senzon, S. (2003). What is Life. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research.
3. Organicism. Wikipedia entry.
4. Senzon, S. (2011). B.J. Palmer: An Integral Biography. Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.
5. Senzon, S. (2004). The Spiritual Writings of B.J. Palmer.
6. Palmer, B.J. (1949). How the Law Works. Excerpt from Chapter 19: What is Finding Yourself, in The Bigness of The Fellow Within. Published in: Sinnott, R. (1998). The green books a collection of timeless chiropractic works-by those who lived it! [Mokena, IL], Chiropractic Books.

© 2019 The Institute Chiropractic - Senzon Learning, Inc.