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.


  • 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:


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


Chiropractic and proprioception have been intertwined for over one hundred years. In TIC VLOG Episode 3, I answer a question about this topic in relation to the book Segmental Neuropathy. Arthur Heintz, DC, linked chiropractic and proprioception in 1912. He also influenced Verner and R.J. Watkins. They were two of chiropractic’s most important theorists of the last century. Much of today’s subluxation theory can be traced to their research.


  • Arthur Heintz was not only the first person (besides D.D. Palmer) to integrate chiropractic and proprioception but he may have also been the only chiropractor to have met Speransky.
  • Heintz brought together chiropractic and proprioception and the concept of Innate Intelligence.
  • R.J. Watkins was inspired by Verner and Heintz to make sense of the “reflex technics.”
  • One of Watkins’ greatest achievements was to describe the neurophysiology of “light” adjustments (such as Logan Basic).
  • One central idea from Segmental Neuropathy was Local Sensorial Conversation Tone. The subluxated joint segment included a “buzz,” a “detuning,” and led to “neurological disintegration.”
  • Stephenson’s concept of the Normal Vertemere Cycle was congruent with these theories.

Resources for this Episode:



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

Speranskian Subluxation Theory

I published a paper last month on chiropractic and systems science. Please read it when you get chance. During my research I was amazed by the impact A.D. Speransky had on subluxation theory.

I coined the term Speranskian Subluxation Theory to capture a class of thinking about subluxation.

A.D. Speransky

A.D. Speransky wrote A Basis for the Theory of Medicine in 1936.

As the head of The Institute of General and Experimental Pathology at the All Union Institute of Experimental Medicine in Leningrad Speransky had a huge impact on Russian physiology and chiropractic.

Speransky’s concept “neurodystrophy” was developed based on years of empirical research with animal subjects. His hypothesis was elevated to theory. His theory was congruent with the chiropractic paradigm.

The Palmer School’s Early Integration of Speranksy

An article by O. Hamilton Wright was published in the The Chiropractor in 1937. It was the first mention of Speransky’s book in the chiropractic literature. The Chiropractor was a publication of the Palmer School of Chiropractic from 1904-1961. Hamilton wrote several articles in the late 1930s on everything from NCM to philosophy.

Hamilton’s pioneering article called “Take Your Choice” examined some of the scientific literature that supported the Life principle. He also described some of B.J. Palmer’s research in the clinic. Toward the end of the article he mentioned Speransky’s observation that the nervous system played an integrative role in disease processes.

In another article called “Unfinished Business” published in 1938, Wright wrote that Speransky’s book “substantiated the Chiropractic principle.” This was the real start of Speranskian Subluxation Theory.

In 1938, B.J. Palmer mentioned Speransky in Vol. 20, which was a text about his research in the clinic. He wrote that Speransky and Crile proved the following statement,

“Any agency, and by this is meant whether given, taken, or received internally, or taken or received externally, regardless of whether a chemical, manual, or physical means, whether a material substance or an abstract, which seemingly modifies, amends, abridges, or changes function, does so not because it actually changes function direct, but that it modifies, amends, abridges, or changes quantity energy flow by blocking either efferent or afferent sides of the cycle behind functional activity and thus indirectly affects function.”

Palmer thoroughly integrated Speransky’s work in Vol. 25 with about 200 pages of quotes from A Basis for the Theory of Medicine. (I have written about Palmer’s integration of Crile’s theories elsewhere.)

Bernard Lubka wrote the first chiropractic review of Speransky’s book. The review was published in The Chiropractor in 1939. Lubka suggested that chiropractic was the logical missing link in Speransky’s research. Several other chiropractors from R.J. Watkins to Clarence Weiant reviewed the book and later integrated it into chiropractic subluxation theory.

Speranskian Subluxation Theory

J.R. Verner was one of the leading chiropractic theorists from the last century. He first wrote about Speransky in 1939. After the publication of his influential book The Science and Logic of Chiropractic in 1941 the profession soon adopted Speranskian research to support and expand subluxation theory.

Verner wrote, “With Speransky, the chiropractor holds that an intact nervous system is a sine qua non to health, and infection is no exception. The basic principle of chiropractic is that structural faults may interfere with normal nerve function…Chiropractic restores normal innervation.” This leads to conditions of health.

The incredible impact of Speransky on the chiropractic paradigm was pervasive. In the 1950s and 1960s subluxation theorists from several schools adopted Speransky. The consensus was that the chiropractic adjustment dissociates or disrupts the neurodystrophy or the neuro-pathic-syndrome or the neuropathy (as it was described in Segmental Neuropathy).

The Future of Speranskian Subluxation Theory

In the 1970s and 1980s, Speransky and the chiropractic references integrating his ideas were commonly cited in the literature. And yet, in the last two decades such references were cited less and less. This may have been related to some incorrect descriptions of the term neurodystrophy. For example, in Janse’s 1975 address at the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, he described it in terms of trophic disturbances rather than a systemic neurological syndrome. It may have also been due to a shift in the profession away from subluxation’s influence on somatic and visceral pathophsyiology. That shift was described by Masarsky in his book Somatovisercal Aspects of Chiropractic.

It is time we reintegrate Speranskian Subluxation Theory into the chiropractic discourse. Every student and every chiropractor might learn a great deal from studying Palmer, Verner, Weiant, Watkins, Homewood, Harper, and the many others who described similar ideas.

Speranskian Subluxation Theory is not a new subluxation theory but a class of theories. It brings together all of the approaches throughout chiropractic’s history from EVERY SCHOOL. They viewed the subluxation as a disruptive process in the nervous system. It was viewed as a patho-genic process that led to adverse neurological consequences. The chiropractic adjustment was viewed as one way to disrupt this pathophysiological cascade and restore the neurological integrity.

This type of common ground is one way for the profession to join together and forge ahead.

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.


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.

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