DD Palmer’s Chiropractic Ideas

My favorite story from the early days of DD Palmer’s chiropractic comes from 1902.

BJ Palmer was practicing in Manistique, Michigan. BJ got a telegram from his dad asking him to return home. When BJ arrived, DD had sold almost everything. He was leaving for California. DD told his son to gather up $200 and meet him there.

This was an extraordinary situation. Palmer had a busy practice, a school, and 42 rooms on the top floor of the Ryan block. I always knew about this story. The facts did not make sense until I studied Rolf Peters’ book and got a copy of the ad.

DD Palmer’s Only Full-page Ad

The circumstances were strange. DD skipped town with loads of debt. Back rent was due and he had patients to care for. Weirder still was that the day he left town on July 14, 1902, he published his first full page ad in the newspaper.

DD also included a short article for the paper. The article explained why he decided to post the ad. I got copies of both from the Davenport Library.  The article explains that BJ’s ad from May had done so well that he decided to run his own.

The ad itself is amazing. It described the basics of DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm for the first time.

DD Palmer’s Chiropractic Year

Because of this ad and some other writings from earlier in the year, I declare that 1902 was DD Palmer’s chiropractic year.

He uses the term luxation more than ever. (He didn’t start using the new term subluxation until 1903.) He also described the importance of the IVF and how nerve pressure leads to disease. Health is when the body is at ease. This is when the nerves are free to act naturally or as nature intended.

There were several other ideas that he described at this time including “our philosophy of treatment” and his first use of innate intelligence. He even described the main principle as: take off the pressure.

The Chiropractic Paradigm

The chiropractic paradigm is like any paradigm. It has a distinct theory that is brought forth or enacted by a practice or method. His writings from 1902 form the foundation of DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm.

DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm can be described like this:

The body is self-healing and self-organizing. This self-organizing, coordinating, and otherwise normally functioning process is the work of the Innate Intelligence.

Innate Intelligence operates over the nervous system. Subluxations create dis-ease because the nerves are mechanically deranged. This causes pressure. Pressure leads to abnormal function. The chiropractic adjustment replaces the displaced vertebra. (DD wrote that chiropractors work with all 300 articulations but primarily the spine.)

The analysis and ultimately the adjustment combine as the method. The method brings forth the paradigm.

It is important to understand DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm for many reasons. One reason is that it gives us a frame of reference to understand the paradigms that branched from it. I call these the middle chiropractic paradigm and the medical chiropractic paradigm. I will write about those in future blog posts.

The Story Continues

The rest of this story is even more compelling. DD wrote an article in 1905 titled Insanity. This article explains his reasons for heading west. Thomas Storey, one of the graduates from his school disappeared. Storey’s wife contacted DD for help.

Storey was spotted on the West Coast and had some form of amnesia. Palmer found him and adjusted his atlas. His insanity was cured.

And then of course there is BJ Palmer’s part of the story. (For the details, you should really get Rolf Peters’ book!)

BJ decided to stay and save the Palmer name. He ran his own ad series in August.

Those ads boosted his practice and the school. He paid off the debt, bought an automobile, and launched his career. The final ad in the series includes some of BJ’s first important chiropractic ideas.

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