R.W. Stephenson, DC, PhC

Ralph W. Stephenson graduated from PSC in 1921 and started teaching in the philosophy department almost immediately. By 1925, he was head of the Technique Department and Clinic as PSC. He wrote several articles in The Chiropractor in the early 1920s. He also drew the illustrations for Craven’s Orthopedy textbook as well as The Chiropractic Chart.

The Chiropractic Chart was offered for sale in 1926 so that chiropractors might integrate anatomy, neurology, instrumentation, and philosophy in their daily practice. The poster was recently meticulously redrawn and printed by The Institute Chiropractic.

Stephenson published two books in 1927,  The Chiropractic Textbook and The Art of Chiropractic. Both were endorsed by B.J. Palmer. Of the Art of Chiropractic, B.J. wrote,

“I regard this work as the finest and best work that has ever appeared on vertebral adjusting, giving us essentials alone, every fact strictly proven, minus goat-feathers, confining itself to demonstrated mechanistic principles which any scientist can read, try and find to be true. When our ranks can get a few more men like Dr. Stephenson who will devote themselves as laboriously as he has done, and will then place his genius and ability into print as accurately as he has done, Chiropractic will come into its own as another one of the exact arts which will stand the exacting scrutiny of time. If I could desire one wish, it would be that every chiropractor secure a copy of this work, study it intimately, sincerely and conscientiously, apply its teachings and, if he would, Chiropractic results would become more manifest and take another step forward increasing its percentage of successes.”

The Chiropractic Textbook was required reading for decades at the PSC. It includes the first exposition of the 33 Principles of chiropractic. These principles are still used today by many chiropractors as a source of philosophical inspiration and professional identity. The book goes into great detail on all things chiropractic.

Highlights of the text includes Stephenson’s Vertemere Cycle, which was a precursor to proprioceptive models of vertebral subluxation, his explanations of momentum of disease processes and retracing. He makes significant contributions in this regard towards furthering the chiropractic paradigm.

Philosophical Quotes from Stephenson prior to 1927

Signs of Life

The scientist judges a thing is alive, by what he calls the signs of life. There are certain functional movements that he looks for as evidence that a thing is alive and he judges the degree of life by the number of the signs present. Chiropractic recognizes the signs of life also, but to Chiropractic they are evidence of Intelligence. A pebble is rolling and beside it a bug is crawling. Both are moving. you say the bug is alive. The bug gets most of your attention and your respect. Why? Because Intelligence recognizes intelligence. A gourd and a hornets’ nest hang side by side. Which one gets most of your attention and respect?

Innate Intelligence

Thus the intelligence of man recognizes in the living thing an intelligence that is localized or branching into and looking after the welfare of the thing in which it resides. This is called Innate Intelligence. Being an intelligence it is a power. Being a power it performs its function – that of creating force. This force assembles molecules and atoms into what we call organized matter. As long as this thing is alive, these forces keep it organized by using or dodging or overcoming its environmental conditions. This is called adaptation. If it fails to make adaptation to the other forces of nature it cannot keep up its proper organization and disintegration into the elements of which it is made. Therefore Innate Intelligence creates forces for the good and welfare of the body. (1924)

Mental Impulse

Life other forces of nature, these forces created by Innate, which we call Mental Impulses, are transmitted from intelligence to matter. Like other forces it prefers a conductor. The conductor that mental force prefers is a material which these forces themselves have assembled – nervous tissue. (1924)


Like other forces of nature, mental forces can suffer interference with transmission, and like other forces of nature, when it suffers interference, it gives us immediate evidence, which we can easily read with Neurocalometer. Formerly we used to determine this by the lack of action in matter, by its absence when it failed to get there. But now we can read that interference as we can see it in those electric lamps. (1924)


The sole reason for the creation o forces by Innate Intelligence is to make its assembled molecules, which we call tissue cells, change their motion and condition, according to the needs brought about by environmental conditions; to use or sidestep other forces of nature round about. Failing in this the tissue cells are threatened with destruction as an organization. Therefore interference with transmission interferes with adaptation, prevents coordinate movement of the bodily cells – thus produces disease. For when tissue cells fail to dodge adversity, they cannot be at ease.”


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