I was thrilled to be invited to write an article for the magazine 33 Principles published by the United Chiropractors Association. The article came out in the summer issue. We have posted it here with permission: Chiropractic Waves.
The article covers an outline of the 8 important waves of chiropractic ideas. The waves are also featured at The Institute Chiropractic. The chiropractic waves of philosophy are as follows: First Wave (1897-1907), Second Wave (1908-1915), Third Wave (1916-1927), Fourth Wave (1928-1948), Fifth Wave (1949-1961), Sixth Wave (1962-1975), Seventh Wave (1976-1996), and the Eighth Wave (1997-2017). The waves are one way to organize the complex history of ideas in chiropractic according to philosophical contribution. Another way is according to generation. References to the article may be found here: Refs.
Here are a few other highlights from this excellent little magazine:
Scotland College of Chiropractic
In an update from Dr. Ross McDonald, chair of The Scotland College of Chiropractic Charitable Trust, the latest projects and support for SCC were unveiled. The Board is actively developing the program and planning to meet the highest standards.
Support for the new college continues to roll in. Several groups have made donations. Also, the Delta Sigma Chi organization and The Institute Chiropractic have pledged donations of books. The Delts will generously provide a set of Green Books. At TIC, we will be donating a set of White Books (we are just waiting for our newest books to be published so that their set is the most complete.) The Board is actively seeking donations to develop an osteological collection of human spines.
If you would like to learn more or donate to The Scotland College of Chiropractic please follow this link: SCC
Syntropy Chiropractic Training
The magazine also included an introduction to Syntropy Chiropractic Training (SCT) developed by Dr. Patrick McMahon (TIC Member) and Dr. Aaron Morris. Their vision for training chiropractors to adjust with mastery is powerful. In order to deal with the issues of burn out, poor results, and low referrals, they decided to teach fundamental skills based on their backgrounds in martial arts, exercise physiology, neurology, biomechanics, advanced athletic training, and chiropractic.
The program is based on three levels: Tonal palpation, 3D coupled biomechanics, and acquiring motor skills that are designed to practice effortless adjustments. By teaching chiropractors to train like master athletes, SCT offers some excellent tools for any chiropractor or chiropractic student. It looks great! You can check out their training schedule here: SCT
Where is the Evidence?
Another gem from this issue is a four page article by Dr. Dave Russell (TIC Member) on how to write a case study. In the article Dr. Russell provides a template for chiropractors to contribute to the literature and build the evidence base by writing case reports. He emphasizes that everyone can do it. All that you need to get started is a patient that has had positive outcomes from the correction of vertebral subluxation. Outcomes could be anything from musculoskeletal changes to emotional and psychological wellbeing improvements. Cases don’t have to be miracles to make a good case report.
The keys to documenting any case are: detailed history and notes both subjective and objective and at least one progress evaluation. The more data you collect, the stronger the report will likely be. He suggests that you can set up your practice so that case reports become a regular way for you to document evidence and contribute to the literature. He also includes some tips on how to actually write the report as well as a list of journals that publish case reports.
It is an excellent magazine. To join the UCA just follow this link: UCA
Wikipedia Bias Against Chiropractic
Wikipedia refuses to offer a balanced viewpoint on chiropractic. Instead, the Wikipedia entries are slanted against chiropractic. This unfortunate bias of the Wikipedia staff has led to multiple refusals to update incorrect historical statements. It also does not offer the public an accurate portrayal of chiropractic theory, research, or history.
Institute Chiro Wiki Categories
The Institute Chiro Wiki will grow slowly, over several years. Entries will be developed by Members of The Institute Chiropractic in three broad categories: Literature, Definitions, and Schools of Thought. It is hoped that this approach will not only offer an honest view of chiropractic for the public but also a critical look at the literature for the profession.
There is no systematic way for chiropractors to be introduced to their own literature. One goal of this wiki is to critically analyze seminal papers and books so that the profession may build upon the literature in productive ways.
Adding to Institute Chiro Wiki
TIC Members may offer suggestions or articles on the TIC Member’s forum, which may be found here: Forum.
If you are not a member and you have a suggestion, please send an email for consideration. If your idea or entry is considered, it will be posted in the Member’s forum for discussion, revision, and approval.
The first wiki entry is live: Legally Defensible
Research in chiropractic has been ongoing since 1905 with O.G. Smith’s microscopic studies of the intervertebral foramen and the intervertebral disc. Chiropractic research has continued ever since at varying levels of rigor.
One area of research that is vital to chiropractic’s future is research that explores the chiropractic paradigm.
This is carrying the torch of research in the chiropractic profession.
In one of his most personal and philosophically illuminating passages from his 30+ books, B.J. Palmer wrote,
“WE came OUT OF THAT ONE ROOM, bearing a fiercely burning torch to build a better road on which sick people could travel in their rights to get well and live longer…” (Vol. 37)
Part of the way he did that was to develop a research clinic in the 1930s, which was used to research and develop chiropractic analysis, technique, and outcomes.
B.J. Palmer’s Research Vision
In his final book, B.J. Palmer described the many objective measures utilized in the B.J. Palmer Chiropractic Research Clinic. The research focused on the detection of vertebral subluxation using x-ray analysis, thermography, and the timpograph (an early form of surface electromyography based on EEG technology) with an emphasis on reproducible measures. The research included shielded and grounded booths and strict guidelines of patient positioning and practitioner protocols.
This list includes most of the outcome measures utilized at the Clinic. Alongside standard examinations and instrumentation for anatomical and physiological health, patients were assessed using novel technologies.
The volumes of data collected between 1935 and 1961 have yet to be fully explored with statistical analysis.
- Recording sphygomanometergraph
- Audio cardiograph
- Contour graphometer record
- Urine analysis
- Blood tests
- Metabolism tests
- Microscopic examinations
- Physical examinations
- Neurotempometer record
- X-ray analysis (using ten x-rays)
According to Martin’s classic article The Only Truly Scientific Method of Healing: Chiropractic and American Science 1895-1990, the research in the clinic was on par with much of the medical research of the day.
Exemplars Carrying the Torch of Research
There is some incredible research being conducted around the globe, some of which is highlighted at the International Research and Philosophy Symposium each fall. This symposium often highlights exemplary researchers, academics, and thought leaders like Kelly Holt, Dave Russell, Matthew McCoy, Christie Kwon, and Curtis Fedorchuk.
Holt and Russell built upon previous studies by Robert Cooperstein and raised the bar for Interexaminar Reliability studies. Their study was conducted at New Zealand College of Chiropractic. They used a multidimensional battery of tests to assess for vertebral subluxation. Their research forces the profession to rethink ALL previous interexaminer reliability studies. This is important for several reasons as it demonstrates good reliability between examiners and it calls into question conclusions drawn from earlier studies of poor reliability.
McCoy and Kwon lead the Foundation for the Vertebral Subluxation along with Christopher Kent, foundation president. FVS developed a robust research agenda to explore the epidemiology of vertebral subluxation and the clinical outcomes to management.
Fedorchuk was named researcher of the year by FVS in 2017. His research includes a pioneering study of Diabetes Type 1, a case study using Telomere length, and correcting a Grade 2 Spondylolisthesis. Fedorchuk’s call for a profession-wide epidemiology study at Sherman’s Lyceum in 2018 is available here: The Epidemiology of Subluxation in the US and the Need for Being an Evidence Generating Practice.
Adaptability Research Symposium
The Adaptability Research Symposium was developed to provide a forum for chiropractors to learn about a central pillar of the chiropractic paradigm: adaptation. The symposium emphasizes the chiropractic perspective that “it is the level of adaptability that determines the health of an individual.”
This year’s Adaptability Symposium is September 28-29 in Chicago. One highlight of the conference will be a LIVE demonstration of a chiropractic adjustment utilizing six outcome measures: 1. Heart rate variability, 2. Impedance cardiography, 3. Pupillary reflex testing, 4. Bilateral paraspinal skin temperature analysis, 5. Dermatomal testing, and 6. Skin conduction levels.
This type of research and analysis carries the torch of chiropractic research. Please do your best to attend!
B.J. Palmer researched Innate. His Innate research included physiological function, moral guidance (conscience), exceptional human function (greatness), and illumination (finding oneself).
Unifying The Profession
After filming this lecture, I produced this short DailyTIC. It focuses on a realization; that to help the profession move forward, a comprehensive understanding of the history of ideas is needed.
In the past, I wrote about B.J. Palmer’s model of consciousness and an Integral approach to the philosophy of chiropractic.
Today, I recognize there is no shared foundation in the profession around the history of ideas. Hence, the mission of The Institute Chiropractic.
Have you ever found that you lack confidence when someone challenges your idea of the vertebral subluxation?
Have you ever seen chiropractors branded as B.J.-followers, disciples, or called dogmatic?
Have you ever heard the claim that B.J. believed it had to be HIO and nothing else?
Have you ever been told that the vertebral subluxation is an outdated model, that has not evolved since D.D.?
Do you think you would struggle at all in clarifying your position on any of these, or discussing where you stand on vertebral subluxation in general?
TIC Masterclass 2 was developed to help you build your confidence in vertebral subluxation foundations and Innate philosophy. Also, the class is designed to grow your own level of consciousness so that you may enact the richness of the chiropractic paradigm from a greater perspective.
Here’s some examples of where our understanding has been derailed and where your self-esteem and self-confidence as a chiropractor may have been hit:
Navigating the Bias Against B.J. Palmer
The history of ideas in chiropractic cannot be understood without confronting the legacy of B.J. Palmer. He was a brilliant and polarizing figure. During his lifetime he feuded with many chiropractic leaders. Those feuds led to a charged, complex, and sometimes biased literature.
It has been very difficult for chiropractors to maintain certainty about central moments in chiropractic history in part because of this problem with the literature.
Chiropractors who have never read B.J. Palmer or studied his theories have opinions about him. And those that have studied him are often maligned as “followers,” “disciples,” and dogmatic believers.
It is time for the profession to recover from this misuse of historical writing.
TIC Masterclass 2 is designed to give you the tools to lead this recovery by learning the facts.
- You will learn how to navigate the bias against B.J. Palmer.
- The lectures do this by teaching you basic historical facts about his life and the development of his ideas.
- These facts are then used to demonstrate errors and bias in the literature.
Vertebral Subluxation Certainty
Another goal of TIC Masterclass 2 is to help chiropractors build certainty about the vertebral subluxation.
Learn to distinguish between subluxation theories and historical models of subluxation in three ways:
- The empirical research underpinning the evolution of subluxation models at the Palmer School.
- How vertebral subluxation models evolved in the Green Books from 1906 to 1956.
- Develop a solid foundation for understanding contemporary subluxation theory.
You will develop the skills to successfully refute statements like, “If D.D. could change his theory three times then why on earth would the chiropractic profession want to pick one of D.D.’s or his son’s theories and etch them in stone? That is dogma that has no place in modern health care or modern chiropractic.”
In TIC Masterclass 2 you will learn that the history of ideas in chiropractic is fascinating and rich.
The Innate Philosophy
B.J. Palmer’s Innate philosophy is another area of the literature that is often confusing and difficult to navigate.
This is true because Innate Intelligence was used to describe at least two different types of activity:
- The body’s ability to self-organize through the expression of function and health.
- As a source of inherent wisdom with an “Innate radar,” like intuition, inspiration, and soul.
The chiropractic Innate philosophy is very complex. It begins with D.D. Palmer’s original ideas and was developed over the decades by B.J. Palmer and many other chiropractors. It embodied several levels of meaning.
TIC Masterclass 2 is designed to teach you a basic history of Innate theory and how to apply it:
- Explore Innate Intelligence using new models in philosophy, consciousness studies, and dynamical biology.
- Deepen your chiropractic foundation by distinguishing between Innate, Homeostasis, and Allostasis.
- Apply B.J. Palmer’s methodology on how to “find yourself,” become more in-tune, and enter regular flow states.
TIC Masterclass 2 is designed to help you better understand the richness of our chiropractic ideas as a meaningful foundation for the great work that you do.
Sign Up Today!
The first module goes live June 18, 2018
TIC Masterclass 2 is available to all members of The Institute Chiropractic.
There are two ways to sign up:
- Become a regular member @ $50 per month.
- Purchase the four-month course for $150. (Regular membership will begin auto billing on month five.)
D.D. Palmer references are a vital source of information about early chiropractic theory. The chiropractic profession developed from his chiropractic paradigm.
The science behind D.D. Palmer’s theories was advanced for his time. This is important because some chiropractors are still unclear about D.D. Palmer’s knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and surgery.*
This post focuses on D.D. Palmer references rather than the articles, interviews, and public presentations that misrepresent the history of ideas in chiropractic.
DD Palmer’s Medical Library
Twenty-three years ago, a landmark paper was published on D.D. Palmer references. The article was subtitled, “The Founder was Into the Literature.”
The authors document D.D. Palmer references in an amazing way. They were able to demonstrate that the founder of chiropractic was current on the latest textbooks in his field.
D.D. Palmer references were compared to the books that medical schools required during that time. In his 1910 book, D.D. Palmer referenced the latest texts alongside previous editions. He even gave some historical citations going back almost 100 years in the literature.
D.D. Palmer was a self-taught expert on anatomy, physiology, and pathology.
No More Excuses
Leaders of the chiropractic profession should demonstrate a mastery of chiropractic’s history of ideas. In the past, there simply wasn’t a great deal of information. Most authors did the best they could with the resources they had. Today we know much more about D.D. Palmer and we have access to virtually all of his writings.
Also, we now have access to most of his references!
Chiropractic educators should demonstrate a solid understanding of chiropractic’s history of ideas. This goes for speakers at conferences, authors, faculty, and administrators. Mastery of chiropractic’s history of ideas should be a professional standard.
Here are two example of how D.D. Palmer used the literature to develop his theory of vertebral subluxation.**
D.D. Palmer on Subluxation as a Partial Displacement of Articular Surfaces
One of the best examples of D.D. Palmer’s integration of the literature comes from his article Chiropractic Rays of Light. It was first published in The Chiropractor, in the June 1905 issue. The article was then republished as a chapter in The Science of Chiropractic (1906) and again as a chapter in The Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic (1910).
In the article, he provides 27 quotations to support the following statement,
“It is interesting and instructive to notice the various opinions of medical writers, in regard to luxations of the vertebral column, and how near they were onto that which is now known as Chiropractic. Below are given extracts from standard anatomies and orthopedical books.
A Chiropractic luxation is where the articular surfaces of any of the 51 spinal joints have been partially displaced, and not usually accompanied with fracture. The replacing of these sub-luxated vertebrae are readily accomplished by a Chiropractor. When we refer to Chiropractic luxations of the spinal column, we speak of those which have been only partially displaced in the articular processes.”
Most D.D. Palmer references are now digitized and available online. It is very easy for us to check his references.
Here are a few:
Regional Anatomy in its Relations to Medicine and Surgery Vol. 2
George McClellan (1894)
A Text-Book of Anatomy by American Authors
Edited by Frederic Henry Gerrish (1902)
D.D. Palmer on Nerve Tension and Nerve Stretching
D.D. Palmer referred to the stretching of nerves in relation to displaced vertebra as early as 1899. By 1910, D.D. cited Landois to support the latest development of his theories. He quotes Landois description of nerve stretching and then says,
“Nerve tension, nerve stretching, acts as an irritant, causes too much functionating, too much action, a waste of energy. Extreme tension causes paralysis. Bones of the body framework give to nerves a proper and normal tension, known as tone. If they are displaced, they will cause either more tension or relaxation. If so, why not replace the displaced bone which is causing tension or relaxation?”***
He also referenced Landois, Gould, and Lippincott to support his theories on the effects of nerve irritation. He proposed that the irritation of the nerve is related to the atomic activity of the nerve. He referred to this as his “thermal-nerve theory.” Life processes were viewed as vibratory. Subluxation causes too much or not enough function due to increased vibration or decreased vibration. This leads to increased or decreased tonicity of the organs or tissues. Thus, chiropractic is based on tone.
Pedestals, Authority, and Paradigms
Chiropractors who criticize the use of D.D. Palmer’s theories in modern practice should be wary of their argument style. A critical approach is essential especially when taking a dismissive stance. An academic discussion about the history of ideas in chiropractic should include historical facts and evidence using appropriate references. Otherwise it is just rhetoric.
For example, it is too easy to assume various things like; just because the term “subluxation” is being used that it is the same definition that was used a century ago. A simple look at the literature and textbooks on subluxation will demonstrate the fallacy of that position.
Then there is the mistaken assumption that those who invoke D.D. Palmer’s ideas or B.J. Palmer’s are automatically putting them up on pedestals, appealing to authority, or the strangest claim; making chiropractic into a religion. It is true that chiropractors in the past have exalted the Palmers. And some chiropractors may still do that today. And yet, most do not. That is an important distinction that gets glossed over or perhaps is just not commonly understood.
There is a big difference between appealing to authority and learning from the past. The fact of the matter is that D.D. Palmer developed a new paradigm, the chiropractic paradigm. In the Kuhnian definition of the term, a paradigm must include a new radical viewpoint with a practice that enacts it. D.D. Palmer’s paradigm was that irritation of the nervous system due to impinged or stretched nerves (usually of the spine) led to abnormal function of the nerves. This could be a primary or secondary contributor to pathophysiology. The practice of chiropractic is to adjust the spine to release the irritation and normalize intelligent function.
Critics should examine D.D. Palmer references along with his clinical observations and then re-frame the critiques so that they are evidence-based. Are D.D. Palmer’s ideas being correctly described? How EXACTLY has his paradigm been debunked in the literature? Has it? The task for a critic is to determine how his work is being applied in relation to today’s practice, which should include objective assessment not assumptions.
In this recent interview for ChiroSushi with Tristan Schaub, we talk about the old Straight vs. Mixer controversy in chiropractic. You can read a bit more about this topic in the blog post on D.D. Palmer’s quote to John Howard and also in the article on chiropractic professionalization.
In this interview, Simon and Tristan discuss the history of the debate, the three paradigms of chiropractic, and some important philosophical distinctions.
In the interview, we mention a few important books, lectures, and dialogues. Here are a few of those resources:
In 2017, Dr. Senzon traveled to Gaffney, South Carolina, and interviewed Dr. Thom Gelardi, founder of Sherman College. A preview of their two-hour dialogue is posted here:
In the talk, we also discuss some pivotal events from the days of Sherman College’s founding such as Reggie Gold and the book Chiropractic and Politics, which was written by faculty at Sherman College in 1978. The book lays out grounds for conspiracy charges against the CCE and the NBCE.
Another important source of new facts on the early history of chiropractic is Tim Faulkner’s book The Chiropractor’s Protégé. The book is filled with incredible documentation from O.G. Smith, D.D. Palmer’s 10th student, and information about several of the early students like Langworthy, B.J. Palmer, and A.P. Davis. The book also includes new photos of D.D. Palmer, details about the controversies between the early leaders, as well the many “firsts” of Smith.
Almost every year I learn more Stephenson facts. R.W. Stephenson was the author of one of the most well-known books from chiropractic’s history of ideas. And yet, most of the references to his work in the literature point to his 33 principles of chiropractic and ignore many of the other contributions in the text. I thought it might be useful to point out some of the other areas I have taken note of in his life and work.
Learning new Stephenson facts adds to our understanding of the discipline of chiropractic.
The Biological Principles
In 1999, I published an article, edited by Ralph Boone, which was based on an integration of Stephenson’s text with 20th-century theoretical biology. The article was in part, a response to a challenge from Boone to study the primary texts of leading biological thinkers. It was also the result of bi-weekly conferences with Koch.
In the article, I pointed out the four essential principles that dealt with the biological organization of living systems (21, 23, 26, & 28). The viewpoint in those principles was congruent with organismic biologists from the 1920s and subsequent systems theorists.
Mental Impulse and Signs of Life
In 2001, I included Stephenson’s contribution to the history of the mental impulse. He concluded that a current within the efferent nerve carried the “thought” to the tissue cell. Mental impulse was viewed as a thought in motion. The tissue, which also enacts intelligence, receives the mental impulse to express action.
In 2003, I noted that Stephenson’s use of Webster’s dictionary to define the five signs of life was antiquated. Newer definitions have emerged from systems science, complexity theory, and autopoietic theory. All of those definitions are congruent with the chiropractic paradigm and the comprehensive view of living systems put forth in the text.
Starting in 2007, I delivered ten hours of lectures at Sherman’s ACP. Topics included the history of philosophy for chiropractors, chiropractic and systems science, and chiropractic and energy medicine. These talks laid the foundation for many of my writings and courses.
In 2008, I included several of Stephenson’s contributions to the literature. These included his triune of matter, force, and intelligence, and also his phrase “universal forces.” These ideas were developed from B.J. Palmer’s models but were unique contributions.
Innate was described as the inherent self-organizing deep structure of the organism. The term was also used by B.J. Palmer and D.D. Palmer to describe Spirit, soul, and various states of consciousness. An Integral approach allows us to sort through these seemingly contradictory definitions of the same term. For example, differentiating the biological organization as the interior of the organism is one aspect of the broader definition used by the Palmers.
Increasing Levels of Complexity
In 2012, I taught a two-hour lecture in Mexico City on Stephenson’s text. I deliberately left out his 33 principles in order to highlight other aspects of the text. For example, he captured an early systems perspective. His view of living systems and specifically the human nervous system was described in terms of increasing levels of complexity. He correlated the complexity of the human nervous system with our increasing ability to adapt to the environment, become more and more sensitive, and develop higher levels of consciousness.
He also wrote of the transformation process in the brain cell in terms of a magnetic field, whereby intelligence gets a “grip on matter.” (I have since recorded lectures on all of these Stephenson facts, which are available for TIC Members.)
In 2014, I was pleased to publish Rolf Peters’ book An Early History of Chiropractic.** The book includes several new biographical facts about Stephenson that I was unaware of. For example, after he left Palmer in 1929, he moved to Boulder, Colorado. Then he returned to PSC in 1935 to study HIO and revise his book. In 1936, he was tragically hit by a bus and died two weeks later on April 5, at the age of 56.
I also learned about his other book, The Art of Chiropractic, which he also published in 1927. The book was written for his students in the Technique Department. He headed that department from 1926 to 1929.
In 2015, I taught about the history of subluxation theory and the relationship between chiropractic and systems science. In both talks, I included Stephenson’s vertemere cycle and his contribution to Cord Pressure Theory. (TIC Member access.)
I recently learned that the Vertemere Cycle could be traced to Craven’s Chiropractic Orthopedy. Craven must have taught Stephenson his theories, which were precursors to proprioceptive and degenerative models of subluxation.
The Forun and Creation
In 2016, I lectured at MileHigh about Stephenson’s and Craven’s incorrect use of the term “forun.” This was based on my reading of B.J. Palmer’s first edition of Vol. 5 or The Philosophy of Chiropractic. In Vol 5, B.J. introduced the term. It was defined quite differently in 1909. (TIC Member’s access: HERE.)
Recently, I tracked the two places where B.J. Palmer actually referenced Stephenson. In one of those, he seems to concur with the new usage of “forun.” I will revisit my critique one day soon.
In 2017, my understanding of Stephenson’s life and writings took a quantum leap. I taught several hours about Stephenson facts and theories. In my preparation for those talks, I learned several new facts about his life such as his love of violin making, the many technique courses he taught, and that students and faculty referred to him as “Daddy” Stephenson. He was a beloved instructor in the 1920s and also during his brief return in the 1930s.
I was also able to understand the development of his ideas leading up to his 1927 book. Stephenson published several articles in the journal The Chiropractor, published by PSC in the early 1920s. The articles give us a more nuanced understanding of his early thoughts and how they became the core elements of his text.
Also in 2017, I had the honor to publish a chapter in Dave Serio’s 33.
The Stephenson Poster
The most incredible Stephenson facts I discovered in 2017, was that he illustrated his books, Craven’s book, and also The Chiropractic Chart. I found this poster as a tiny advertisement in a 1926 issue of The Chiropractor. I recognized its value for today’s chiropractors and hired a graphic artist to redraw it exactly. This Stephenson Poster now hangs in chiropractic offices all over the world. It is finally getting used the way Daddy Stephenson hoped that it would.
The Chiropractic Chart demonstrates the chiropractic principle in a simple way. The nervous system is essential to all body functions. Interference in the nervous system is detrimental. The spine structurally protects the spinal cord and the nervous system. These simple facts can be understood by everyone.
The Newest Stephenson Facts
In 2018, I have already learned a few new Stephenson facts!
I just completed the Stephenson chapter for the upcoming book with Faulkner and Foley Palmer Chiropractic Green Books. The chapter goes through his articles, his books, and also his PhC thesis. That document is filled with gems.
We were able to track down where he taught school before matriculating at Palmer. It was likely a one-room schoolhouse. This would mean that he taught several grades at once, including Geometry. In the PhC thesis, he noted that teachers were upgrading the way they were teaching Euclid’s geometry. This is interesting because it helps us understand why he chose to write his book as a geometric proof or what he called a “deductive geometry.” The book will be ready soon.
Finally, I just learned that my history of the chiropractic subluxation was accepted for publication. The articles include lengthy sections on Stephenson’s contributions to subluxation theory. It adds some essential Stephenson facts into the literature.
**Also that year, I republished Drain’s Chiropractic Thoughts, which might be viewed as the “sister book” to Stephenson’s text. It contains many of the same ideas but written in “street language.”
Retracing is a physiological model of the healing process that was developed by D.D. Palmer based on his clinical observations with the first chiropractic patients. The retracing theory was developed over many decades by practicing chiropractors, subluxation theorists, and chiropractic authors.
As early as 1931, B.J. Palmer noted the theory was sometimes misused. Here is an example:
Rules of Chiropractic
In 1950, B.J. Palmer laid out several rules:
- If patient is feeling better but growing weaker, he is over adjusted.
- If patient is feeling worse, but growing stronger, he is retracing.
- Adjust chronic case only when there is interference and not always then.
- Adjust acute case as for a chronic.
- Rule of acute or chronic is determined by interference checks.
- Rule of degree of effect is determined by degree of interference.
Chiropractic Retracing – a Core Element Subluxation Theory
Many chiropractors taught retracing and developed the theory in their writings.
In 1909, Joy Loban counseled that patients should be instructed about retracing from the outset. He also noted that is was misused back then as well. He wrote,
“This theory of retracing has been much abused. Chiropractors have used it to cover a multitude of errors in practice. With some it becomes a habit to call all unfavorable events which occur during adjustments “retracing,” thus shifting the blame from their own shoulders to Nature’s. This is a pernicious practice because it deceives the patient and also because too frequent repetition of this explanation finally deludes the practitioner into the belief that all such events really are retracing. This view withdraws his attention from his own technic and he ceases to discover his own mistakes by ceasing to look for them.”
Jim Drain wrote a chapter on retracing in his 1927 book, Chiropractic Thoughts. He writes, “I have for your consideration the subject of retracing. This subject is used by almost every practicing chiropractor, both to explain the actual retracing process, and as a good excuse for the bad feeling the patient complains of. It is my intention to clear up this subject so you will not have to offer the retracting argument for a crutch for chiropractic.”
He goes on to explain that retracing is not always unpleasant. In the chapter, Drain lays out 16 things to consider in relation to the retracing process.
Researchers and practitioners might gain a great deal by exploring history of retracing theory in chiropractic. There are certainly dozens of testable hypotheses that emerge when considering the theory.
On this day in TIC History in 1963, R.J. Watkins presented an overview of Normal and Abnormal Pelvic Kinesiology to the leading experts on X-ray analysis in the chiropractic profession. The talk is included in the 830-page book, The Complete Chiropractor (2017). You may read it here: R.J. Watkins on Pelvic Subluxation Research.
Watkins presented an overview of the pelvic subluxation research in the chiropractic profession including the works of Illi and Janse, Gillet, as well as the pioneering studies at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.
Please read the 6-page article to better understand the pelvic subluxation research Watkins was referring to.
Aside from the interesting research conducted at CMCC on subluxation in the 1960s, R.J. Watkins provides some excellent insight about complex and chronic subluxation patterns. For example, he writes,
“As a reminder of “tissue memory,” we can see that old subluxations, which were not completely corrected, seem to have partially reduced as symptoms subsided. But a residual distortion persists. Since most patients have had multiple traumata, the physical distortion represents scars of old injuries pyramided into a rubble heap with the latest symptomatic problem laid on top like a capstone. Is it not apparent, then, that we cannot depend upon films made in a single position for infallible listings of a subluxation? Certainly we have a picture of the top stone on the pyramid, but the position and contour of its base of previous trauma will mislead, and even apparently reverse, the true problem.”
The complexity of vertebral subluxation patterns are an important element of research, theory, and practice. It would be interesting for the profession to take up some of this research again, explore it in greater depth, and build upon these foundations.