GONSTEAD AND FIRTH: TIC VLOG EPISODE 2

Episode 2 of the TIC VLOG includes some of my thoughts about chiropractic pioneers Gonstead and Firth. In this episode I answer a question about Gonstead’s life and influences. This gave me an opportunity to share some of my newest thoughts on the topic with you. I was recently given a copy of Firth’s technique manual from the 1940s at Lincoln Chiropractic College. When we look at this manual in the context of the first Gonstead seminars some interesting connections arise.

BIG IDEAS IN THIS EPISODE

  • Gonstead went to Palmer in the early 1920s at the peak of that school’s initial growth.
  • Firth, Burich, Vedder, and Palmer not only wrote greenbooks but collaborated on the Palmer technic manual.
  • Firth led the Lincoln Chiropractic College in the 1940s and developed his own technic program.
  • Two Lincoln students were the first teachers of the Gonstead Seminars.

Resources from this episode

SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS FOR FUTURE EPISODES

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

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.

Resources

Cook-Greuter, S. www.Cook-Greuter.com

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 Philosophy at the Edge

Let’s go back to the Greenbooks from the 1920s and the role they may have played in 20th century biological and systems thinking. I know, I know, you wonder, “Why should we even bother with those old books?” Well, WE SHOULD…and I’ll tell you why.

I made a small point in my last blog post about those books and how they represented an early attempt at an integrated curriculum. A curriculum, mind you, that sought to integrate a systems worldview into biology, while also including links between mind, body, and spirit. An approach like that is not even included in “the mainstream” today. The approach in those early days offered a MORE INTEGRATED educational system than the CCE/NBCE dominated curricula of the 21st century! By reconnecting to that philosophical lineage, we may just help chiropractic to continue to be at the edge of biological and philosophical thought.

The book that really set the tone for the outpouring of texts at the Palmer school in the 1920s was called Philosophy of Chiropractic. This particular Greenbook (volume V), is virtually UNKNOWN to most chiropractic philosophers because of a typo. The first edition of the book was authored by B.J. Palmer in 1909.[1] On the binding of that book was the proper title. The second edition brought in a co-author, John H. Craven. That revised edition came out in 1916. The binder of that book, incorrectly read, “The Science of Chiropractic.” It was reprinted yearly as the book was impossible to keep in stock.[2] (After all, those were the boom years at Palmer College. By 1921, the incoming class was something like 1,200.**)

I wonder how many generations of students of chiropractic philosophy, did not buy the book or did not REALIZE it was actually a philosophy text…but that is another story. In fact, I recently acquired what seems to have been Craven’s copy of the 1st edition. Hopefully scholars with some time on their hands can compare and contrast the differences between editions. To accurately understand the early and seminal ideas from the philosophy, we should be able to DISTINGUISH Craven’s ideas from B.J. Palmer’s.

Another important influence on the early Greenbooks, was the republication of D.D. Palmer’s two books. B.J. edited and published them in 1921 as a second Volume IV.[3] D.D.’s books were generally not available at that point. We can only surmise that access to this version (edited by B.J.) was an inspiration to many.

But what of the other authors who were influenced by Craven and B.J.? Of course, the most well-known is Stephenson, who published volume 14, in 1927,[4] but what of his teachers (like Craven) and their books? And that is at the HEART of the importance of this particular ERA of chiropractic’s philosophy. Recently, I designated it the 3rd Wave of Philosophy in Chiropractic.[5] Several years ago, I just called it the “Collaborative Phase.”[6]

The other main authors from PSC included, James Leroy Nixon,[7] S.L. Burich,[8] Henry Vedder,[9] Mabel Heath Palmer,[10] James Firth,[11] & Arthur Holmes.[12] There is hardly room in this short post to expand on their writing, which is okay, because I have created some EXCERPTS for your enjoyment on this site (just click on the reference links below). Each excerpt explores how these authors incorporated Innate Intelligence in their writings on topics like pathology, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, and law. IMAGINE if we can revisit this idea and develop NEW core curricula that incorporated the perspective of Innate Intelligence into every course?

Even more important in my view, these texts demonstrate how the philosophy of chiropractic was at the leading edge of biological thinking ninety-years ago! Just a glimpse through the applications of systems theory, chaos theory, and complexity theory for medical practices today will demonstrate that fact. The references would take too long. Just go to google scholar and search terms like, “systems theory and medicine,” “chaos theory and heart,” or “complexity theory and illness,” or anything like those terms and you will be inundated with lots of great research.

Is it possible that the philosophy of chiropractic had an impact on the current trends in biological thinking? Just think about it, during those years of the 1920s, B.J.’s radio stations were HEARD all the way to Alaska,[13] there were over a hundred schools over the years,[14] thousands of chiropractors, and even more patients. How might this philosophical approach have impacted American thought? Better still, how might the profession today take ownership of its own philosophical approach and use it to further human knowledge and deepen human experience?

What if the chiropractic adjustment of the vertebral subluxation could be used as a way to demonstrate the physiological implications of some of the latest approaches in theoretical biology? What if we were able to make the appropriate linkages between the leading theories in neurophysiology and heart-rate variability to the philosophy of chiropractic and bring that into the classroom? Or even the boards? The future is bright if we stay at the leading edge, where chiropractic belongs.

Chiropractically yours,

Dr. Simon Senzon…

1. Palmer, B. Philosophy of Chiropractic. 1st ed. Vol. 5. 1909, Davenport: Palmer College of Chiropractic

2. Craven, J. Universal Intelligence, in Philosophy of Chiropractic1920, Palmer College of Chiropractic: Davenport.

3. Palmer, B. ed. The Chiropractic Adjuster; A compilation of the writings of D.D. Palmer. Vol. 4. 1921, Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA. *Available as pdf from Chiropracticbooks.

4. Stephenson, R. Chiropractic textbook. 1927, Davenport: Palmer School of Chiropractic.

5. First Generation Chiropractors.

6. Senzon, S. A history of the mental impulse: theoretical construct or scientific reality? Chiropr Hist, 2001. 21(2): p. 63-76.

7. Nixon, J. The spirit of the P.S.C.: A story based on facts gleaned at the chiropractic fountain head. Vol. 14. 1920, Davenport: Palmer  School of Chiropractic.

8. Burich, S. Chiropractic Chemistry. Vol. 11. 1920: Palmer  School of Chiropractic.

9. Vedder, H. Chiropractic Physiology. Vol. 8. 1922, Davenport: Palmer School of Chiropractic.

10. Heath Palmer, M. Chiropractic Anatomy. Vol 9. 1923, Davenport: Palmer  School of Chiropractic.

11. Firth, J. Chiropractic Symptomatology. Vol. 7. 1925, Davenport: Palmer  School of Chiropractic.

12. Holmes, A. Malpractice as Applied to Chiropractors. Vol. 17. 1924, Davenport: Palmer  School of Chiropractic.

13. Keating, J. Chronology of radiophone station WOC: 1922-1932, N.I.O.C. Research, Editor 2008: Phoenix.

14. Fergusan, A. and G. Wiese. How many chiropractic schools? An analysis of institutions that offered the D.C. degree. Chiropr Hist, 1988. 8(1): p. 27-36. (Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.)

 

 

 

 

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