DD Palmer References

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)

The Science and Art of Surgery

John Eric Erichsen (1884)

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.

 

*The surgery literature of the time included detailed explanations of the spine and nervous system.

**According to Faulkner’s book, he first used the term a few months after O.G. Smith, in 1902.

***His term “functionating” was in use at the time.

Why Don’t Chiropractors Remember Nerve Tracing?

Starting around 1899, D.D. Palmer taught nerve tracing. The actual phrase “trace the nerve” first shows up in an 1897 testimonial from Samuel Weed. Weed also coined the word “chiropractic,” with hands only.

In March 1905, D.D. Palmer wrote, “The fundamental principles of Chiropractic are founded on anatomy, pathology, physiology, and nerve tracing.”

In his 1906 book, D.D. Palmer wrote, “Chiropractic diagnosis is founded upon objective inspection, especially nerve tracing.”

If nerve tracing was central to D.D. Palmer’s paradigm, then why don’t most chiropractors today know what it is? After all, he wrote,

“The Chiropractor finds by nerve tracing, the occluded intervertebral foramina, which by nerve impingement, is the cause of abnormal functions. He then relieves the pressure by adjusting the displaced vertebra, by so doing, he opens the spinal foramen to its normal size.”

In 1910, D.D. wrote, “I am the originator of nerve-tracing”

What is Nerve Tracing?

D.D. explained,

“Following a sensitive, swollen nerve from the place of impingement to its peripheral ending, or vice versa, by a discriminating touch; tracing it before adjustment by its rigidity and tenseness; then finding that it has become lax and not sensitive immediately after adjustment, is important in diagnosing many morbid conditions and proof positive that the lesion has been located and removed.”

D.D. Palmer wrote that Nerve Tracing, “developed by me is the art of tracing sensitive inflamed, swollen, contracted nerves to and from the place of impingement and the organ or portion affected. This tracing, when made by an expert, is not only explanatory, but educational.”

The method developed from his old practice of magnetic healing, which he did from 1887-1896. He would find a tender spot around the symptom and lay his hands on it. Then, with Nerve Tracing, he would trace the nerve from that tender spot to the point of origin on the spine.

He also found that it was a powerful way to explain chiropractic to patients. He wrote, “There is nothing more explanatory and convincing to the prospective student or patient than nerve tracing.”

D.D. Palmer’s lecture notes from 1911 and 1912 included one lecture titled “Palpation and Nerve Tracing.” It was published posthumously in 1914 as a chapter in the book, The Chiropractor.

D.D. Palmer’s Students on Nerve Tracing

Several of D.D. Palmer’s students taught Nerve Tracing including his son B.J. Palmer, Mabel Palmer, John Howard, and Alva Gregory. Abrams even wrote about it in his 1910 book. (Abrams probably read it in D.D. Palmer’s writings.)

In his 1912 book, Spinal Treatment, Gregory wrote,

“In order that we may be enabled to do nerve tracing, the nerves of necessity must be supersensitive. That a nerve must be supersensitive, we must have some kind of impingement of that nerve; or some kind of mechanical interference affecting its cellular integrity. Such a condition of a nerve is produced ordinarily by some inflammatory process of a greater or less degree in the zone that is supplied by the nerve or by slight impingement where it make its spinal exit.”

B.J. Palmer expanded on Nerve Tracing and developed the Meric System. His 1911 book included dozens and dozens of images. These were also used in the classroom and projected from slides with the stereopticon. (Rolf Peters’ book tells the story of the various early teaching methods at the Palmer School of Chiropractic.)

B.J. Palmer’s Students on Nerve Tracing

B.J. Palmer’s students also wrote about Nerve Tracing. Their thoughts on the topic made it into several Green Books and were taught throughout the profession from Joy Loban’s Universal Chiropractic College to Jim Drain’s Texas Chiropractic College, to Lincoln Chiropractic College, which was founded by his faculty. The most prolific authors from the PSC on the topic were Jim Firth, John Craven, and Ralph Stephenson.

Loban defined it as follows; “Nerve-tracing is that branch of palpation by which the tenderness of irritated spinal nerves is discovered and their paths demonstrated.” He wrote a detailed chapter on the topic.

Drain also wrote a chapter on Nerve Tracing. He included it in the second edition of his book Chiropractic Thoughts. These new writings along with several of his pamphlets, essays, and letters on success were republished as Mind and My Pencil. Drain wrote, “Nerve Tracing is the fine art of following the path of tenderness from the subluxated vetebra to the suffering, or the region over it.”

Drain wrote, “By your nerve tracing, you verify abnormal conditions in existence, or the existence of abnormal conditions and prove the existence of ACTIVE NERVE PRESSURES.”

2017 Publications on Nerve Tracing

 

Two books were published in 2017 discussing D.D. Palmer’s Nerve Tracing, Holly Folk’s Religion of Chiropractic and Steve Walton’s The Complete Chiropractor.

Folk’s Book

In Folk’s book, she mentions “Nerve Tracing” eleven times but unfortunately, she has misunderstood the practice. Instead of capturing how D.D. Palmer defined Nerve Tracing as palpation of sensitive nerves from the symptom to the spine, Folk writes, “Nerve Tracing was the charting of a nerve from the spine to an affected bodily part.” That is not accurate. Future chiropractors may have focused on charting nerves but that was not the practice that D.D. Palmer developed. He started by tracing the nerve from the symptom. That was the clinical practice he taught. Tracing the nerves from the spine to the organs was secondary. It developed from the practice. Charting them was not part of his method. This distinction is not clear in Folk’s text. 

Furthermore, Folk implies that D.D. Palmer was “not innovating, but picking up ideas that had circulated in popular physiology for several decades.” She gives no reference for that beyond an obscure M.D. named Sherwood and some reprints of his diagrams.

Folk credits Sherwood with coining the phrase “Nerve Tracing.” However, her references for Sherwood don’t pan out. Folk cites his two books. In both books, he does have the same sentence that states “vessels and nerves” are “easily traced,” but he is referring to advanced cases of tuberculous after tissues have been destroyed by ulceration. He does mention his method of palpating for pain points at the vertebra, also in relation to tuberculosis. He didn’t name his practice Nerve Tracing. Also, what he was doing was nothing like D.D. Palmer’s work, which developed from clinical practice.

The Complete Chiropractor

Walton’s book of R.J. Watkins’ collected writings includes a chapter on Nerve Tracing. R.J. Watkins was one of the leading academics, theorists, and researchers from 20th century chiropractic. His mentor was Jim Firth, who developed his methods after teaching alongside B.J. Palmer for close to two decades.

According to Walton,

“His approach was a bit different than the classic Palmer approach. Instead of tracing from the periphery to the spine, he traced from the subluxation to the periphery. 

His tracing points were usually the belly of a muscle or the musculotendinous junction. To be a little more specific, he would trace the motor points in the belly of the muscle.These points have also been variously identified as acupuncture points and trigger points. He was tracing out segmental patterns of sensory distortion since sensory (proprioceptive) distortion is central to his subluxation theory. The pattern of points would be perceived as tender before the adjustment, and then immediately after the adjustment the tenderness would subside.”

Watkins said, “Patients are impressed when you can show them where they hurt before they even tell you.”

Perhaps it is time for chiropractors to relearn this lost art of chiropractic and research it.

TICVLOG Episode 9: Stress and Subluxation

Chiropractic subluxation theory has integrated stress theory since the 1950s. In TICVLOG Episode 9: Stress and Subluxation, I go into a short history of stress and subluxation. Many of the leading subluxation theories from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, included subluxation theory. Some subluxation theorists even included linkages between Speranksy and other Russian neurophysiologists with Selye.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • D.D. Palmer’s first theories on Innate included how the bones respond to the stressors from the environment.
  • R.O. Muller was the first chiropractor to introduce Selye’s stress syndrome into subluxation theory in 1955.
  • Verner integrated Selye, Speransky, and the reflex subluxation models in the 1950s.
  • Homewood proposed that chiropractors focused on the anatomy of stress (while Selye focused on the physiology of stress).
  • Ward’s Stressology was the most comprehensive integration of stress theory with subluxation theory.
  • Other subluxation models such as Toftness and Epstein integrated stress in important ways.

Resources for this Episode:

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* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TICVLOG Episode 8: DD Palmer BJ Palmer and the Chiropractic Profession

The relationship between D.D. Palmer, B.J. Palmer, and the chiropractic profession is fascinating. In TICVLOG Episode 8: Father and Son, I go into detail about their interactions and the impact it had. One of the most fascinating things I discovered was that the back and forth between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer during the years 1908 to 1910, led to new breakthroughs in chiropractic philosophy, theory, and practice.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • In private letters between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer we learn how and why their relationship fell apart.
  • The year of 1906-1906 was a very difficult one for D.D. Palmer. It had its tragedies, blessings, and new horizons.
  • When D.D. Palmer got to Oregon in 1908, he started reading B.J. Palmer’s new books Vol 2 and Vol 3.
  • D.D.’s criticisms of B.J.’s new chiropractic ideas led to a refinement of theories for both of them.
  • The theories that emerged from that period became the foundation of the chiropractic profession.
  • D.D. Palmer’s final lectures were gathered by his wife after his death and published as a book in 1914.

Resources for this Episode:

  • D.D. Palmer’s 1914 book, The Chiropractor is available online.
  • Volume 1 was a compilation of D.D.’s articles, B.J.’s new articles, and several other authors.
  • More resources on D.D. Palmer may be found here: D.D. Palmer.
  • More resources about B.J. Palmer may be found here: B.J. Palmer.

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* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TICVLOG Episode 7 Frequency and History

In TIC VLOG Episode 7, I answer a question about the history of adjustment frequency.

Understanding the original protocols of the chiropractic pioneers gives modern chiropractic practice a new perspective.

This is especially relevant because of the literature. Several recent articles have used a 1902 ad from B.J. Palmer, to try and discredit modern practices. In this TIC VLOG, I explain why that approach is deeply flawed.

Chiropractors need to understand the evolution of theories from D.D. Palmer’s earliest approaches to B.J. Palmer’s final theories and practices. We also need to integrate key moments in the history of chiropractic practice such as Drain’s and Craven’s contributions to chronic and acute care. Frequency models continually evolved between the 1930s and the 1990s.

These foundational historical facts and ideas give us a common basis through which we might dialogue.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • D.D. Palmer proposed yearly chiropractic analysis in 1897.
  • B.J. Palmer’s models of care frequency evolved from 1902 into the 1950s. Any use of his ideas should include those facts.
  • Several articles in the literature use a B.J. Palmer ad from 1902, out of context from the rest of his life, to make a point about modern practice.
  • J.R. Drain pioneered acute and chronic adjusting protocols.
  • The 3-2-1 frequency model probably emerged from the Parker Seminars in the 1980s.
  • Epstein’s frequency model from the late 1990s was based on the findings from two qualitative studies (retrospective and longitudinal).

Resources for this Episode:

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* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TICVLOG 06: DD Palmer’s Books

TIC VLOG Episode 6 explores the question of D.D. Palmer’s two books. Both books were authored by D.D. Palmer. The first one was published by him in 1910. The second one was published by his widow in 1914. D.D. Palmer died October 20, 1913.

In 1921, B.J. Palmer republished the books as one volume. He included this in the Greenbooks series as the second Volume 4. The first Vol. 4 was published in 1908. B.J. edited the book. He took out some of the unflattering critiques about himself. He also removed other content. In the video, I mention one of the edits I found about Jim Atkinson. I am sure there are other edits to be discovered.

EXPANDING ON THIS EPISODE

There are so many interesting things we could expand upon from this topic.

  • D.D. Palmer published articles criticizing B.J. Palmer’s Vols. 2 and 3. The articles started in December 1908 and continued through early 1910. These were first published in his journal The Chiropractor Adjuster. The articles were lightly edited and included in his 1910 book, Text-book of the Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners. On the spine, it reads, “The Chiropractor’s Adjuster.”
  • Even though D.D. Palmer’s two books were published in 1921, few chiropractors knew about them. For example, Clarence Wieant, DC, PhD, published a classic article in 1979 on “philosophy” in chiropractic as a misnomer. In the article, he claimed that he did not know about D.D.’s 1914 book until the 1960s (even though he graduated in 1924!). Perhaps he just wasn’t paying attention to the new Greenbooks being published while he was in school.
  • When thinking of B.J. Palmer’s loose use of historical fact, I can’t help but think about Bob Dylan. In his autobiographical book, Chronicles, as well as of some recent songs, Dylan was accused of plagiarizing whole passages. When taken in context, it looks as though Dylan was adopting a style of writing reminiscent of traditional folk tunes, classical poetry, and a type of writing that emerged in the 1930s. Perhaps we should view B.J. Palmer’s writings alongside the Nobel Laureate?
  • The first volume of the Greenbooks was published in Autumn 1906. That book is primarily a compilation of D.D. Palmer’s articles prior to March 1906. D.D. Palmer left Davenport in Spring 1906. B.J. Palmer hired a college professor to edit the book and include several other chapters by B.J. and articles from other authors. B.J. published the second edition in 1910 and the third edition in 1917. These editions included new chapters and edited old ones.

Resources for this Episode:

SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS FOR FUTURE EPISODES

  • www.facebook.com/institutechiro
  • www.instagram.com/simonsenzon

 

* Music written, arranged, and performed by Dan Mills, Mark Goodell, Adam Podd

TIC @ Mile High

Thank you, Dr. Daniel Knowles, for posting a video of the philosophy panel from Mile High 4. The panel took place in Westminster, Colorado in August of 2016.

The Institute Chiropractic (TIC) organized the panel. This included Dr. Simon Senzon and three members of TIC: Dr. Barry Hobbs, Dr. Jack Bourla, and Dr. Phil McMaster, as well as Dr. Joel Kinch as the MC (another member of TIC).

Please click on the image to go directly to the Mile High page and watch the discussion.

Some Questions for the Ages

We decided to use three short videos from The Institute Chiropractic to inspire discussion. The topics ranged from B.J. Palmer’s thots about Innate Intelligence, Educated Intelligence, and Function, to various types of Vertebral Subluxation, and ultimately Universal Intelligence. The videos were just a starting point.

The discussions ranged from the complexities of Innate Intelligence to the interesting life of D.D. Palmer. By watching the discussion, you may learn some new facts. You will certainly discover what types of interactions await at the next Mile High and on the discussion forums of TIC.

B.J. Palmer’s Vol 2

In 1907, B.J. Palmer published his first book. It was based on his lectures. He called it Volume 2 in the new series on the Science of Chiropractic. B.J. considered this the second philosophical book. Volume 1 was primarily a compilation of his father’s writings. Volumes 3 and 4 came out in 1908 and Volume 5 in 1909. The chiropractic literature is mostly silent on Vol. 2, even though it was one of the most significant contributions to chiropractic theory of the last century. Many of the ideas B.J. put forth in this text were unique.

This short video clip is part of a lecture on the first edition of the book. Each clip explores one idea or one aspect of B.J.’s theories. His Innate theory built upon his father’s theory of Innate Intelligence, which were developed in 1903 and 1905. B.J. takes it further. We could even compare his ideas to more recent theories associated with enactive cognitive science and autopoiesis.

IMPORTANT RESOURCES

  • B.J. Palmer wrote about 34 books often referred to as The Greenbooks.
  • His early inspiration was from his father whose first chiropractic writings were compiled as Volume 1.
  • Robert Fuller considered D.D. Palmer’s contribution a unique integration of Spiritualist ideas with science.
  • The ideas from Vol. 2 were congruent with modern theories of enaction and autopoiesis.
  • The development of the chiropractic paradigm by the Palmers can be viewed as a form of Systems Science.

To learn more please join The Institute Chiropractic and get access to over two hundred video and audio clips.

Chiropractic Bohemian Conspiracy

The Bohemian Conspiracy started in chiropractic around 1903. It was a movement initiated by D.D. Palmer’s students who became his competitors to discredit him. Starting with Langworthy and Smith, it was suggested that D.D. Palmer took chiropractic from Iowan Bohemians, who practiced a form of spinal manipulation as a folk remedy. Not long after, this line of thinking shows up in the books of Davis, Gregory, and Forster, all leaders of rival schools.

This lecture was produced for the new online CE Chiropractic Program offered through The Institute Chiropractic (TIC). Members of TIC get big discounts for the CE courses offered through Sherman College. Other member benefits include access to over 160 clips, over 25 hours of content, a social network and an amazing archive.

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

  • The definitive article on the Bohemian Thrust and chiropractic was written by Gary Bovine.
  • The first chiropractic textbook to include Bohemian concepts was Modernized Chiropractic by Smith, Langworthy, and Paxson. The three ran The American School of Chiropractic and Nature Cure.
  • Alva Gregory included arguments about the Bohemians in his chiropractic text. Gregory ran the Palmer-Gregory School (even though Palmer was only involved with him for three months, Gregory kept his name on the corporate charter.)
  • Arthur Forster took up the Bohemian idea in his 1915 book, Principles and Practices of Chiropractic. Forster ran the National School of Chiropractic with Schultz.
  • Many chiropractic historians have included a history of spinal manipulation, which is an important aspect of history. However, without including the fact that such an approach was originated to discredit D.D. Palmer as the inventor of chiropractic, any history will be limited.
  • To view the other segments of this lecture please join The Institute Chiropractic.

D.D. Palmer’s Inspiration

D.D. Palmer’s inspiration came from his friend, student, and rival A.P. Davis. Davis was one of the first graduates from A.T. Still’s school. He was also the second graduate of Palmer’s new school in 1898.

I just produced five lectures about Davis. The emphasis is on his impact on early chiropractic. I really like this one clip because it captures D.D. Palmer’s depth of knowledge. Palmer mastered the literature of his day.

Davis impacted modern chiropractic. He was the first chiropractor to integrate the biomedical model into the chiropractic paradigm. He was also the first chiropractor to include other therapies alongside chiropractic. His books were read and integrated by the leading chiropractors of the day such as Howard, Langworthy, Loban, and Gregory. They laid the foundation for today’s chiropractic.

The biggest impact of Davis on chiropractic was the role he played as D.D. Palmer’s inspiration. D.D. was forced to develop his theories of impingement, vertebral subluxation, tone, and the neuroskeleton. He had to distinguish what his ideas were in response to his students. Davis was one of the biggest antagonists.

MORE RESOURCES ON DAVIS AND PALMER

To watch the rest of the Davis lectures (five short videos) please join The Institute Chiropractic today!

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