Green Books

Palmer Chiropractic Green Books: The Definitive Guide by Timothy Faulkner, Joseph Foley, and Simon Senzon, is now available in color paperback and premium color hardcover editions.

We decided that it was time for the chiropractic profession to have a definitive guide to the chiropractic Green Books. There are far too many myths about chiropractic’s original paradigm, the Palmers, and the Green Books. This book was designed to update the chiropractic profession about the foundation of chiropractic research, theory, and practice. The Green Books represent chiropractic’s most fundamental application. Reading The Definitive Guide is the place to start.

Writing this book was a labor of love. Please order your copy today (and then order five more to gift to students).

Please read the Introduction to the book below:

The Green Books embody the chiropractic profession’s fundamental elements. The first of the books were written by D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, and his son B.J. Palmer, often referred to as the developer of chiropractic. The entire series includes more than 40 books published between 1906 and 1966. Most of the books were written by B.J. and over a dozen were written by faculty of the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC) as teaching texts. The books themselves cover the original chiropractic paradigm, various topics viewed from the chiropractic perspective, the development of theory and ideas from the first chiropractic school, as well as a unique historical account of chiropractic events, scientific research, and the evolution of clinical methodologies over the profession’s first 60 years.

Few material items in the chiropractic profession stir up more passion and emotion than the Palmer Green Books. Some consider the books as the “alpha and omega” of the profession, with the very essence of chiropractic written within their pages. Others in the profession would like to see the Green Books burned and the Palmer ideas abandoned.

For the chiropractor who chooses to practice chiropractic as it was originally developed, the Green Books are akin to sacred texts. The Green Books are original source material containing the words of the founder and the developer. For many in the profession the Green Books define what chiropractic is and what chiropractic is not. Answers to countless questions may be found within the more than 20,000 written pages. For those looking to learn about the science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic, there is but one source, the Palmer Green Books.

The Definitive Guide was written as a comprehensive introduction to the Green Books. We hope it will appeal to anyone interested in the history, philosophy, science, or art of chiropractic. It could be read by chiropractic patients and practice members to better understand the foundations of chiropractic theory. It might also be read by historians, scholars, and health care providers interested in chiropractic. Specifically, we wrote Palmer Chiropractic Green Books: The Definitive Guide for practicing chiropractors, Green Book collectors, and the chiropractors of the future.

The Overview

Few chiropractors have read any Green Books. Of those few, an even smaller number have read more than two or three of the books. The most commonly read Green Books are probably D.D. Palmer’s two books, B.J. Palmer’s Subluxation Specific Adjustment Specific and his Bigness of the Fellow Within, and Ralph Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook. Of the D.D. Palmer books it seems common for most readers to skim or selectively read passages, especially of his 1910 book, which takes a commitment to read from cover to cover. For these reasons we decided to create not only an introduction to every Green Book for beginners and collectors alike but an overview of the books. By discussing how the books developed, why they were written, and the central theories in each book, it is our hope that The Definitive Guide will become a resource for generations of chiropractors.

The first fifteen chapters are about the content of the books. Most chapters cover at least two books. Some chapters include up to eight books. Chapter One was written as a collaboration by all three authors: Faulkner, Foley, and Senzon. It provides a historical context for the books, how the chiropractic paradigm emerged, what the first teaching methods were like, and also some early conflicts in the profession, including the clash between D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer. The chapter also covers the legal pressures on the young profession and the emergence of the Chiropractic Book Series.

Chapters Two through Thirteen were written by Senzon, with historical and editorial insights from Faulkner and Foley. These chapters were developed to provide the modern reader with an accurate understanding of what is in Volumes 1-39 with an emphasis on the philosophical and theoretical developments. The goal was to provide an overview not a critique. So, we’ve glossed over things like typographical or other perceived errors. Our plan was to share what the books are about. Future works might take a more critical stance and examine the many theories against current insights from philosophy and science. However, some of the chapters do offer limited critiques, contexts, and philosophical perspectives. This was necessary in order to demonstrate the relevance of the texts for today’s chiropractor.

Since the focus of the book is the Green Books themselves, we chose to highlight any mention of the Green Books in advertisements, and reference within the books to the other volumes. We also highlighted quotes about the writing process and the development of the series.

Overall, the use of quotes is designed to assist the reader to understand the writing styles and learn important concepts from the authors themselves. We included many extended quotes so that the reader might develop a feel for the writings and to make sure the quotes are viewed in context. In that regard, in Vol. 38, B.J. Palmer writes:

“It is unfair and unjust to any author for any reader to take any section or sentence out of pretext, text, or context, and misinterpret the author’s overall premises of his book, in the light of what ONE SENTENCE might imply. Any book must be studied in its ENTIRETY and OVER-ALL elucidation of problems it solves.”

In a few instances, we abridged quotes with “…” to jump from one statement to another. This was done purely for aesthetics. Keeping such full quotes would have required unnecessary explanations in order to add the proper context. Readers may go to the original in such instances and read the complete text.

Unfortunately, the improper use of quotes is common in the chiropractic literature, often leading to misunderstandings about the history of ideas in chiropractic. This is another reason why a thorough study of the Green Books is essential so that the development of ideas in chiropractic might be more fully understood.

Also, please note that some of the language and writing style in the Green Books is unique. For example, D.D. and B.J. Palmer used shortened words, like “thot” replacing “thought.” This was a linguistic style from the early twentieth century. Additionally, both D.D. and B.J. Palmer had their own way with words. By providing extended quotes, we hope the reader might come to understand the complexity of the ideas and also develop an appreciation for the texts in a new way. Becoming acquainted with the unorthodox writing styles of the Palmers will better prepare readers for a more thorough reading of the Green Books.

In addition to the emphasis on theory and the books themselves, we highlighted writings about the history and research. This focus of The Definitive Guide is important because it offers a counterbalance to trends in the current chiropractic literature that is often divorced from historical fact. For example, several of the Green Books demonstrate a robust attempt to research and document the vertebral subluxation, written from first-person accounts. Some peer-reviewed literature today takes the stance that either the subluxation was never researched or that any research from earlier eras should be dismissed. We hope that by providing a more in-depth perspective on these topics the reader might judge the value of chiropractic science based on historical fact.

We have opted not to cite references throughout the text. A list of references is included at the end of the book. This was an aesthetic choice designed for the general readers and chiropractic students. We feel this way of learning about the Green Books, without being distracted by an overabundance of numbered endnotes or author’s names in parenthesis, will assist the new student of the books to focus on the ideas themselves. In that regard, we have also opted to leave out page numbers alongside each quote. All quotations are associated with each volume’s section or chapter. We expect that scholars and historians will study the references, especially if they have a question about any assertions made in the book.

The overall emphasis of the first part of the book is the chronological development of ideas throughout the Green Books. In this regard, an effort was made to limit repetition. This could be misleading for the reader who hopes to get a complete overview of each book. Many of the Green Books include the same basic definitions of terms like vertebral subluxation and Innate Intelligence. Some books even repeat chapters and passages from previous books. However, each book is unique in its overall focus and development of ideas. Please assume that the core ideas are congruent throughout the books unless we refer to a distinct change from one book to another, such as the shift to an upper cervical model of vertebral subluxation or years later to a full spine analysis. So, even if one of the central concepts from the chiropractic paradigm is not mentioned in regards to a particular volume, that does not mean the book skips the topic. By emphasizing the unique contribution from each book, rather than repeating identical definitions, The Definitive Guide explores the evolution of the ideas while offering an overview of the books. In order to acquire a complete understanding of any Green Book, it is essential to go to the source and read it.

The Writings

Chapter Two is about D.D. Palmer’s first writings on chiropractic, with an emphasis on his writings between 1902 and 1906. D.D. Palmer’s writings from this period laid the foundation of the chiropractic paradigm and also comprised the core chapters of Vol. 1 of the Green Book Series. Chapter Two also includes some of the historical background of his early writings, a few references to his pre-1900 writings, as well as discussions of his earliest thoughts on disease, structure and function, mixing chiropractic, vertebral subluxation, Innate Intelligence, Educated Intelligence, and Universal Intelligence. Some of these early articles were also included in D.D. Palmer’s 1910 book.

Chapter Three includes an overview of 1906-1910. This includes an historical account of how Vol. 1 ultimately got published without D.D. Palmer’s final approval, even though he was listed as the primary author.

The chapter explores his 1906 theories about displaced articular surfaces and disease. The chapter also includes a chronological look at his Portland writings between 1908 and 1910, which were all included in his 1910 book. The examination of those writings emphasizes his critiques of other chiropractors, his theory of impingement, as well as his new thoughts on Innate. For example, in September 1909 he critiqued his own essay on Innate Intelligence originally written in 1903 and updated his theory. The chapter also includes a brief discussion of his 1910 book. This section emphasizes his theories that had not been significantly written about prior to 1910 such as tone and neuroskeleton.

Chapter Four is about D.D. Palmer’s final book, The Chiropractor, published posthumously in 1914. Since the book was a compilation of his final lectures from 1912 and 1913, the chapter explores the lectures as one body of thought. Thus, rather than viewing the book as a cohesive text, the ideas are broken down and explained in a logical order. For example, the initial sections include his ideas about tone, biological principles, health and disease, life and death, vital force and energy, impulse, neuroskeleton as a nerve-tension frame, vertebral subluxation, pinching versus impinging, etiology, inflammation, nerve tracing, and palpation. The second part of the chapter explores his theory of neurological habit grooves, the relationship between organism and environment, consciousness, Innate, and inspiration. The final sections of the chapter examine his proposed religious legal strategy, his views on subjective and objective religion, as well as chiropractic as a moral and religious duty, his “doctrine,” and also his thoughts about chiropractic’s impact on society and culture, along with his view of individual greatness and what he referred to as “the great advancement.”

Chapters Five and Six include overviews of Vols. 2-13. These books formed the canon of the textbooks that were used to teach the first generation of chiropractic students at the PSC. Chapter Five covers B.J. Palmer’s first six books. In those books, B.J. introduced new theories and practices, some of which became the foundation of the profession for decades. His new clinical applications and philosophical contributions were developed from the paradigm initiated by his father. For example, D.D. Palmer’s practice of nerve tracing was developed into the meric system, and his theory of dis-ease and abnormal function were developed into B.J.’s models of momentum, retracing, and nine primary functions. B.J. Palmer’s models were also developed in the context of his expanding clinical empiricism. He officially took over the school from his father in 1906 even though he had been running it since 1902. By 1909, the student clinic at PSC in Davenport was seeing more than 100 patients per day. Textbooks were needed for the growing student body, not only for philosophy and technique but for every core subject. Chapter Six explores the first textbooks written by PSC faculty between 1914-1920 on topics like Symptomatology, Physiology, Anatomy, Spinography, Chemistry, and Gynecology.

These first books in the PSC faculty series, which came to be known as the Green Books, demonstrate a pioneering philosophical approach to biology for the early twentieth century. The books shared a common viewpoint, the view from Innate. That is, not only did they consider the organism in terms of neurologically mediated self-organizing and self-healing processes but they tried to convey each physiological and clinical topic based on what Innate was attempting to do at any moment. This was in regard to normal function, interacting with the environment, and dealing with the consequences of vertebral subluxation. B.J. referred to this as “the chiropractic standpoint.” The early Green Books represent the first comprehensive attempt by a school of thought to publish a series of textbooks from an Innate perspective. These chiropractic texts foreshadowed late twentieth century theoretical biology with its theories of autopoiesis, complex systems, dissipative structures, and self-organization. Future chiropractic research and theory might build upon this foundation by understanding the ways these early chiropractors integrated the chiropractic paradigm into each discipline.

Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine include the books published in the 1920s. Chapter Seven is about what we refer to as the Humanities Green Books: The Spirit of the PSC, Chiropractic Advertising, and Chiropractic Malpractice. The first book, The Spirit of the PSC was written as a novel by Leroy Nixon, a student, to capture the atmosphere of the school at its peak in the early 1920s. Chiropractic Advertising was written by Harry Vedder, a faculty member. It includes an overview of marketing practices in common use and also advice on communication and professionalism. Chiropractic Malpractice was written by Arthur Holmes, one of the chief lawyers who defended chiropractors in court. It includes legal advice, communication strategies, and a legalistic perspective on chiropractic from that era. Chapter Eight covers the legacy of John H. Craven, DC. He wrote two Green Books: Chiropractic Orthopedy and A Textbook on Hygiene and Pediatrics from a Chiropractic Standpoint, and, he also collaborated with B.J. Palmer on new editions of Vols. 1, 2, and 5. Those were B.J.’s main books of philosophy. As head of the Department of Philosophy, Craven was the teacher of Ralph W. Stephenson, DC.

Chapter Nine covers the life and work of R.W. Stephenson.Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook has had more impact on the profession than any of the books. His 1927 book was used for decades as the main philosophy text at the PSC. It is still used today to teach the core principles of chiropractic at several colleges around the world. The chapter provides a look at Stephenson’s life, his writings prior to and after 1927, and also an exploration of his second book, The Art of Chiropractic. Many of the main ideas published in his textbook were already described in his articles and his thesis, written in 1924. The chapter provides a context for the book and emphasizes his contributions to chiropractic theory.

Like the earlier Green Books, Stephenson’s integration of the chiropractic paradigm might be viewed as a precursor to late twentieth century theoretical biology, systems views on clinical practice, and body/mind approaches to health and healing. Additionally, his text could be viewed as contemporary for the time.

It was written at a time in Western culture when biology was a relatively new discipline and biologists were seeking to establish definitions of life based on the holistic organizing relations of parts rather than on the parts themselves. Here is one example of the holistic perspective inherent to Stephenson’s text. He writes:

“If a number of interdependent parts are to have a cooperative relation with each other, they must be grouped about a central idea, a common need or governing principle. This governing principle is Innate Intelligence.”

What theoretical biologists refer to today as “self-organization,” the biologist of the 1920s referred to as “organization.” The Green Books used the term “organization” more than eighty times to refer to the body’s innate ability to self-organize. Stephenson refers to Innate Intelligence as the scientific “law of organization.” Understanding how the chiropractic paradigm and its development in the Green Books was a part of wider trends in biological thinking within the culture may help today’s chiropractor to find new relevance in the texts and also provide new avenues of exploration for the chiropractic researcher.

Even though Stephenson and other chiropractic theorists of that era published ideas that were congruent with early twentieth-century theoretical biologists, chiropractic texts were not integrated with main-stream health or science literature. The Green Books were mostly self-published by the PSC. This was a common practice of chiropractic colleges, many of which published two or three texts.

Chapters Ten and Eleven are about the research pamphlets and the research textbooks from the 1920s and the 1930s. Chapter Ten includes an overview of the many pamphlets B.J. Palmer published between 1924 and 1933. These were his yearly reports delivered at Lyceum about the various research studies undertaken, starting with the first thermography research and ending with the upper cervical model of the torqued subluxation. Most of these pamphlets were integrated into future Green Books.

Chapter Eleven covers the research textbooks published between 1934 and 1938. The first book, Vol. 18, introduced B.J. Palmer’s approach to the upper cervical subluxation specific adjustment. In 1936, Vol. 19, B.J. gave his first report on the new B.J. Palmer Chiropractic Research Clinic. In 1938, Vol. 20, B.J. Palmer published a text on x-ray analysis using comparative graphs and Percy Remier, DC, published Chiropractic Spinography as Vol. 21, which included the latest advances in x-ray technology and analysis.

Chapter Twelve explores B.J. Palmer’s tomes. Between 1949 and 1953, he published Vols. 22-29. Each book was more than 700 pages in length. The chapter includes the main philosophical and theoretical contributions of the books along with several important details. These texts lay the foundation for B.J. Palmer’s final refinements and evolution of the Innate philosophy, including his emphasis on Innate Thot Flashes and the integration of his 14 years of clinical research using thermography, x-ray analysis, and other innovations like shielded grounded booths, and the invention of the electroencephalneuromentimpograph. The chapter also describes much of what is in the books including letters, research studies, older philosophy essays, as well as historical and autobiographical accounts. Additionally, until this chapter was written, there was no account in the literature of the way older pamphlets were used in later Green Books. One of the reasons why B.J. Palmer was able to publish so many thousands of pages in such a short time was because dozens of chapters are comprised of pamphlets, some of which were written as early as 1911. He did not include the dates for most of the original writings and so it is probable that many chiropractors have viewed these chapters as if they were written in the 1950s.

Chapters Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen cover B.J. Palmer’s final writings; Vols. 32-39. B.J. published these final eight books between 1955 and 1961. The books focused on philosophy, research, technique, theory, and reflect on his life in the context of the development of chiropractic. He started publishing one book per year and delivered the talks at Lyceum. His nephew, William H. Quigley wrote about B.J.’s dedication to teaching during those last years of his life. Quigley writes:

“During the summers of 1955 through 1960 B. J. wanted to keep in touch with the students and planned on addressing each of the school’s 12 classes. He would lecture from eight until ten, taking time to answer questions from the student body. He would rarely have time during the year to meet this schedule, because of travel and other commitments, yet each year he would try again. He did make certain that he had at least one opportunity to talk with each class before their graduation.”

In spite of B.J. Palmer’s debilitating health challenges during the 1950s, he continued to write, to meet with his team running the PSC and Palmer Broadcasting, and he started planning for the inevitable. Quigley writes:

“As B.J. pondered his mortality he did what many other men did before him, he sought means of perpetuating his name and work…
During the last years he clearly seemed compelled to publish what he considered proof of chiropractic in general and his philosophic beliefs in particular.”

The last of the Green Books convey an evolution of B.J. himself. This evolution is most notable in his more spiritual writings as well as his attitude towards critics and detractors. He became more accepting and seemed to acquire a new type of insight about human nature. He recog-nized that his audience was targeted. He wrote for them.

Chapter Thirteen covers Vols. 32-34, Chapter Fourteen covers Vols. 35 and 36, and Chapter Fifteen covers Vols. 37-39. Each book represents a distinct body of knowledge. The chapter sections dedicated to each volume are categorized with topical subheadings so as to better introduce the reader to the complexity and range of ideas. The books build upon new avenues of Innate philosophy, many of which were first described in Vol. 22 published in 1949. In these, his last writings, it is possible to track new developments of ideas, an evolution of theories, and a historical perspective that brings context to chiropractic as a profession.

B.J. Palmer’s final eight books are an ideal place to begin any study of his life and work. The books themselves are relatively short, especially in comparison to the tomes. Any study of the Green Books could begin with Vol. 32 and, over the course of several months, systematically continue through Vol. 39. In this way, B.J. Palmer’s final writings offer any student of chiropractic an excellent place to get started. These books provide a glimpse into a life of continual growth and discovery, as well as the development of theory in relation to all aspects of chiropractic.

For Green Book Collectors

Chapters Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen, were written by Faulkner and Foley, with editorial and historical insight from Senzon. These chapters were the inspiration for The Definitive Guide, which was originally intended to be a resource for Green Book collectors and gradually evolved into the current form. The detail in these chapters include the definition of a Green Book, ways to determine authenticity, rarity, and value of a book, an exploration of the history of Green Book publications, and a novel category system to distinguish between every edition of every Green Book.

Generations of chiropractors have been collecting Green Books. Many chiropractors have claimed to own a complete “set” of Green Books. Usually this means they have all the books that were issued while they or their relative was a student at Palmer. It was common for Palmer graduates to keep their Green Books even after they had retired and stopped practicing. Many kept their books until they died, their Green Books meant that much to them. Since the Green Books were produced over a nearly sixty-year span, it is doubtful that any chiropractor was ever able to purchase each book as it was initially issued. Even B.J. Palmer could not have owned a complete set of published books because the last two Green Books were published posthumously.

After B.J. Palmer died in 1961, the profession entered a “dark age” of chiropractic philosophy. The philosophy of chiropractic was not stressed as strongly in chiropractic schools. Most of the early Green Books were long out of print. New chiropractic books discussing philosophy were rare. Young chiropractors began to search for Green Books. The authors have found small want-ads from the early 1970s, when chiropractors were seeking Green Books. One chiropractor told us that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he advertised in the classified “wanted” section of chiropractic magazines. Generally speaking, he paid $100 for a Palmer-authored Green Book and $50 for non-Palmer books. He did not know what books existed and was always excited to find a book he did not have. Oftentimes the buyer would have to purchase all the books in a lot. He would be contacted in response to his ad by a retired doctor or the family of a deceased chiropractor. They would say they have a specific number of books and a price would be negotiated. This method led to duplicates in collections, which were often traded with other chiropractors also seeking Green Books.

Some of the initial volumes from the 1920s and earlier are on their third or even fourth owners. Books from the late 1950s are just coming available because their original owners are now elderly and parting with their prized possessions.

Our intent is to disseminate the most detailed knowledge available of the physical books themselves. This is the first significant update to the literature about the Green Books since Glenda Wiese and Michelle Lykens published A Bibliography of the Palmer Green Books in Print, in 1986. We hope that the collector may better understand the subtle nuances of the various books and make informed collecting decisions. This book provides knowledge for the Green Book collector about the individual Green Books to be sought and offers an idea of the rarity and value. Collecting Green Books is an extension of passion for the chiropractic profession.

The Wiese and Lykens bibliography introduced the profession to facts about how many Green Books were actually produced over the years. Prior to their bibliography, the only accurate lists of the books were old PSC catalogs, which listed books that were available but not books that were out of print, reissued volume numbers, or those not yet written. For example, doctors tried to collect every volume number but did not know that some numbers were used twice. Wiese and Lykens demonstrated that several volume numbers had been used on completely different books and that two volume numbers were missing from the series: Vols. 30 and 31. Their bibliography became a “shopping list” for the modern Green Book collector. It is only since their Green Book bibliography that collectors have been able to truly collect a complete set of Green Books.

Chapter Sixteen covers special considerations about the Green Books such as reissued volume numbers, missing volume numbers, unnumbered Green Books, other Palmer books, covers, leather bound special editions, private collections, author mock-ups, signed and inscribed editions, numbered editions, non-traditional sized Green Books, the difference between editions and printings, supplements to editions, and modern reprints.

Chapter Eighteen covers the rarity and value of a Green Book. Since collectors traditionally did not know what books even existed, pricing was arbitrary. We will attempt to take some of the guesswork out of collecting. The chapter includes a rarity and desirability scale (also used in the Green Book Master List); how to value Green Books; the art of trading, buying, and selling Green Books, as well as how to assess book condition and guidelines for repairing damaged books.

Before the Internet, finding Green Books was limited to advertising in chiropractic journals, from estate sales of deceased chiropractors, and contacting used bookstores in person. The Internet opened the inventory of every bookstore in the world to online buyers. In an instant, the inventory of thousands of used bookstores could be searched, and Green Books bought for the listed price. And yet, booksellers had no idea how to price these books. Some would be listed for only a dollar or two, others would be listed for exceptionally high prices.

Green Book pricing, rarity, value, and desirability became more established with online auctions such as eBay and other auctions listing Green Books for sale. This system of buying and selling began to set a true market-price for Green Books. In an online auction, as buyers bid against each other, prices began to be established. The rarer books had serious bidding wars resulting in high prices. The more common books would sell for as low as $20 and were readily available. If there were no interested buyers, the Green Book would not sell at all. Over the past fifteen years prices have fluctuated based on supply and demand. During a period of oversupply and less demand, prices dropped. The rarer Green Books continue to command a high value.

When B.J. officially took over the PSC in 1906, there were not many students. In those early years, B.J. did not need many books printed. However, he did print more books than he needed for the current students. Some books were sold to former students as well as potential students studying at home. Of course the future PSC student would need books. By 1919, the PSC had several thousand students. At that point many thousands of books were printed and sold by the PSC to its students. This simple detail is a big factor in the rarity of Green Book editions. Many of the early books were printed in such limited amounts that they are very rare today. Green Books for the 1920s were printed by the thousands, and as such, many have more supply than demand.

This Book

The Definitive Guide was also written to act as an anchor to the chiropractic paradigm. The rhetoric in the chiropractic profession today needs such an anchor. There are articles published in the peer-reviewed literature attacking the chiropractic paradigm without adequate historical references. Some of these articles suggest that philosophy and vertebral subluxation should be dropped in the trash bin of history because they are no longer needed and perhaps never were. This type of ahistorical rhetoric, usually backed up by a plethora of circular and faulty references, is taking root in the profession and influencing board decisions, institutional policies, and threatening the ability of good chiropractors to practice. On the other end of the spectrum, philosophy is sometimes used in chiropractic to support unfounded claims, historical facts are too often mistaken, and narrowly focused beliefs limit the profession’s ability to develop. It is our fervent hope that this book will guide the next generation of chiropractors like a candle lit in the darkness.

Stephenson Facts

Almost every year I learn more Stephenson facts. R.W. Stephenson was the author of one of the most well-known books from chiropractic’s history of ideas. And yet, most of the references to his work in the literature point to his 33 principles of chiropractic and ignore many of the other contributions in the text. I thought it might be useful to point out some of the other areas I have taken note of in his life and work.

Learning new Stephenson facts adds to our understanding of the discipline of chiropractic.

Since 1996, I have read his book every few years. That year is when I began my studies under David Koch, Val Pennachio, and Bill Decken. Each reading of the book offers new insights.

The Biological Principles

In 1999, I published an article, edited by Ralph Boone, which was based on an integration of Stephenson’s text with 20th-century theoretical biology. The article was in part, a response to a challenge from Boone to study the primary texts of leading biological thinkers. It was also the result of bi-weekly conferences with Koch.

In the article, I pointed out the four essential principles that dealt with the biological organization of living systems (21, 23, 26, & 28). The viewpoint in those principles was congruent with organismic biologists from the 1920s and subsequent systems theorists.

Mental Impulse and Signs of Life

In 2001, I included Stephenson’s contribution to the history of the mental impulse. He concluded that a current within the efferent nerve carried the “thought” to the tissue cell. Mental impulse was viewed as a thought in motion. The tissue, which also enacts intelligence, receives the mental impulse to express action.

In 2003, I noted that Stephenson’s use of Webster’s dictionary to define the five signs of life was antiquated. Newer definitions have emerged from systems science, complexity theory, and autopoietic theory. All of those definitions are congruent with the chiropractic paradigm and the comprehensive view of living systems put forth in the text.

Unique Contributions

Starting in 2007, I delivered ten hours of lectures at Sherman’s ACP. Topics included the history of philosophy for chiropractors, chiropractic and systems science, and chiropractic and energy medicine. These talks laid the foundation for many of my writings and courses

In 2008, I included several of Stephenson’s contributions to the literature. These included his triune of matter, force, and intelligence, and also his phrase “universal forces.” These ideas were developed from B.J. Palmer’s models but were unique contributions.

An Integral View

In 2011, I presented my new series of papers on constructing a philosophy of chiropractic. Those talks are available for CE credit and also exclusively for TIC Members. In the talks, I used Stephenson ideas to explore some important distinctions of Innate Theory in chiropractic.

Innate was described as the inherent self-organizing deep structure of the organism. The term was also used by B.J. Palmer and D.D. Palmer to describe Spirit, soul, and various states of consciousness. An Integral approach allows us to sort through these seemingly contradictory definitions of the same term. For example, differentiating the biological organization as the interior of the organism is one aspect of the broader definition used by the Palmers.

Increasing Levels of Complexity

In 2012, I taught a two-hour lecture in Mexico City on Stephenson’s text. I deliberately left out his 33 principles in order to highlight other aspects of the text. For example, he captured an early systems perspective. His view of living systems and specifically the human nervous system was described in terms of increasing levels of complexity. He correlated the complexity of the human nervous system with our increasing ability to adapt to the environment, become more and more sensitive, and develop higher levels of consciousness. 

He also wrote of the transformation process in the brain cell in terms of a magnetic field, whereby intelligence gets a “grip on matter.” (I have since recorded lectures on all of these Stephenson facts, which are available for TIC Members.)

Stephenson’s Life

In 2014, I was pleased to publish Rolf Peters’ book An Early History of Chiropractic.** The book includes several new biographical facts about Stephenson that I was unaware of. For example, after he left Palmer in 1929, he moved to Boulder, Colorado. Then he returned to PSC in 1935 to study HIO and revise his book. In 1936, he was tragically hit by a bus and died two weeks later on April 5, at the age of 56.

I also learned about his other book, The Art of Chiropractic, which he also published in 1927. The book was written for his students in the Technique Department. He headed that department from 1926 to 1929. 

Subluxation Theories

In 2015, I taught about the history of subluxation theory and the relationship between chiropractic and systems science. In both talks, I included Stephenson’s vertemere cycle and his contribution to Cord Pressure Theory. (TIC Member access.)

I recently learned that the Vertemere Cycle could be traced to Craven’s Chiropractic Orthopedy. Craven must have taught Stephenson his theories, which were precursors to proprioceptive and degenerative models of subluxation.

The Forun and Creation

In 2016, I lectured at MileHigh about Stephenson’s and Craven’s incorrect use of the term “forun.” This was based on my reading of B.J. Palmer’s first edition of Vol. 5 or The Philosophy of Chiropractic. In Vol 5, B.J. introduced the term. It was defined quite differently in 1909. (TIC Member’s access: HERE.)

Recently, I tracked the two places where B.J. Palmer actually referenced Stephenson. In one of those, he seems to concur with the new usage of “forun.” I will revisit my critique one day soon.

Stephenson Facts

In 2017, my understanding of Stephenson’s life and writings took a quantum leap. I taught several hours about Stephenson facts and theories. In my preparation for those talks, I learned several new facts about his life such as his love of violin making, the many technique courses he taught, and that students and faculty referred to him as “Daddy” Stephenson. He was a beloved instructor in the 1920s and also during his brief return in the 1930s.

I was also able to understand the development of his ideas leading up to his 1927 book. Stephenson published several articles in the journal The Chiropractor, published by PSC in the early 1920s. The articles give us a more nuanced understanding of his early thoughts and how they became the core elements of his text.

Also in 2017, I had the honor to publish a chapter in Dave Serio’s 33

The Stephenson Poster

The most incredible Stephenson facts I discovered in 2017, was that he illustrated his books, Craven’s book, and also The Chiropractic Chart. I found this poster as a tiny advertisement in a 1926 issue of The Chiropractor. I recognized its value for today’s chiropractors and hired a graphic artist to redraw it exactly. This Stephenson Poster now hangs in chiropractic offices all over the world. It is finally getting used the way Daddy Stephenson hoped that it would.

The Chiropractic Chart demonstrates the chiropractic principle in a simple way.  The nervous system is essential to all body functions. Interference in the nervous system is detrimental. The spine structurally protects the spinal cord and the nervous system. These simple facts can be understood by everyone.

The Newest Stephenson Facts

In 2018, I have already learned a few new Stephenson facts!

I just completed the Stephenson chapter for the upcoming book with Faulkner and Foley Palmer Chiropractic Green Books. The chapter goes through his articles, his books, and also his PhC thesis. That document is filled with gems.

We were able to track down where he taught school before matriculating at Palmer. It was likely a one-room schoolhouse. This would mean that he taught several grades at once, including Geometry. In the PhC thesis, he noted that teachers were upgrading the way they were teaching Euclid’s geometry. This is interesting because it helps us understand why he chose to write his book as a geometric proof or what he called a “deductive geometry.” The book will be ready soon.

Finally, I just learned that my history of the chiropractic subluxation was accepted for publication. The articles include lengthy sections on Stephenson’s contributions to subluxation theory. It adds some essential Stephenson facts into the literature. 

**Also that year, I republished Drain’s Chiropractic Thoughts, which might be viewed as the “sister book” to Stephenson’s text. It contains many of the same ideas but written in “street language.”

Kent Gentempo and Senzon on BJ Palmer

This On Purpose Interview with Kent, Gentempo, and Senzon explores some new ideas about B.J. Palmer’s early theory. Between 1907 and 1909, B.J. Palmer developed the basics of his philosophy and subluxation theories. Several of his ideas were translated into articles and books by his students John Craven and Ralph Stephenson. Some of their interpretations were incorrect.

Diving into B.J. Palmer’s original theory opens up the philosophy of chiropractic in new and interesting ways. The depth of how B.J. Palmer viewed the organism in the context of the environment shines through. The energy and information are transformed in the organism. The transformation is the process through which mind and matter are enacted.

BIG IDEAS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • B.J. Palmer’s theory of the “forun” was developed based on his readings on Electricity from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • B.J. Palmer’s most distinct theories were written down as Vol. 2, Vol. 3, and Vol. 5.
  • John Craven collaborated with B.J. on the second edition of Vol. 5 and the third edition of Vol. 2.
  • Some of the mistakes Craven made were so subtle that they obviously got missed by B.J. and other.
  • Craven’s student R.W. Stephenson used Vol. 5 as one of his main sources for his Chiropractic Textbook.
  • Stephenson made some of the same errors as Craven and thus the original theories have been passed down to us as incorrect.

Resources for this Episode:

  • Please join On Purpose and get the monthly Audio Magazine from Kent and Gentempo.
  • Please join The Institute Chiropractic today to access over 50 hours of content and special member pricing for online Continuing Ed.

Chiropractic Philosophy and Art

One of the topics that really piques my interest is the art of adjusting as the embodiment of the philosophy. This is one of the things that makes chiropractic’s philosophy so unique! It was an embodied philosophy from the start. This fact becomes obvious when you study the first generation of chiropractors.

Early Integration of Chiropractic Philosophy and Art

I love finding writings about this topic by first generation leaders, not only the Palmers. For example, around 1908, Joy Loban, was named by B.J. Palmer as the first head of philosophy at the early Palmer School of Chiropractic. He would eventually break with B.J. and start the Universal Chiropractic College. In 1908, Loban wrote, “The art of adjustment is simply putting into action the Philosophy which we have studied.”[1](p.36) This sentiment was pretty common to the early chiropractors.

Some of the earliest chiropractors linked the philosophy to the art in refined ways. The first actual textbook on chiropractic was written by three of D.D. Palmer’s students, Langworthy, Smith, and Paxson. The book, Modernized Chiropractic,[2] introduced the concepts of dynamic thrust and spontaneity, or Innate’s response to the thrust. According to the authors, chiropractic’s real uniqueness was in the alert moment of the thrust.

The Impact of Jui Jitsu on Early Chiropractic Philosophy and Art

Lately I have been wondering whether Shegatoro Morikubo may have influenced the art of chiropractic with Jui Jitsu. Morikubo was one of the most influential first generation chiropractors. His 1907 court case established the landmark ruling that chiropractic had a distinct science, art, and philosophy, and thus it was its own profession.[3]

Morikubo was raised in Japan in a Buddhist monastery. He completed a degree in philosophy, moved to the United States, and eventually became a chiropractor. In his 1906 letter to D.D. Palmer he wrote,

“About six years ago I was injured while practicing Jiu Jitsu, or what is known as Japanese Kuatsu, the practice of self-defense. One of the cervical vertebra was slightly dislocated.”[4]

After this letter, Morikubo completed his degree, wrote a defense of D.D. Palmer’s human rights during Palmer’s 23-day incarceration in 1906,[5] and may have lectured on philosophy during B.J. Palmer’s travels. Then, in 1907, Morikubo moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to confront the osteopath who brought charges against two chiropractors in 1905. Morikubo’s courage to confront the legal question in Wisconsin acted as a catalyst to the philosophy of chiropractic, which soon became a well-developed aspect of the profession.[3] Did he also influence the art?

Years later, Jiu Jitsu is mentioned in four Greenbooks. In 1927, it was mentioned by Ralph Stephenson in his classic Chiropractic Textbook. Stephenson was describing the very important concept of Innate’s resistive forces. When the environmental forces are unbalanced or ill-timed, Innate resists. When the Universal forces are too great, it may lead to vertebral subluxation. Stephenson referred to this as, “destructive jui jitsu.”[6](Vol. 14, p. 79) Stephenson explained it like this,

“The question has often arisen: why is the spine always the part affected by these unbalanced forces? The answer to this is: the spine is not always the part to suffer, but is the most common place to suffer from unbalanced resistive forces, because it is the foundation of the body. It is important to note that unbalanced resistive forces produce sprains, dislocations, torn tissues, prolapses, or fractures, in most any active part of the body. This is the fundamental principle of jujitsu.” [6](Senior Text, p. 324)[Original bold face.]

 

We know B.J. once studied Jui Jitsu to further his art. Perhaps Mabel did as well. Mabel Palmer’s textbook, Chiropractic Anatomy, Volume 9, demonstrates a bit of her knowledge of Jui Jitsu. She notes that “Petit’s triangle,” an area where the latissmus dorsi may not meet the external oblique, above the center of the iliac crest, “is a weak point, easily located in jujitsu.”[7] Did she and BJ study Jui Jitsu with Morikubo?

 

B.J. Palmer even wrote about Jui Jitsu in 1950, as part of his cathartic and voluminous writing period after Mabel’s death in 1948. He mostly described Jui Jitsu in terms of the art of adjusting. He said, in ancient China, in the “THE WILDER provinces,” the practice had an application related to “cracking the bones of the back,” with a hugging motion.[8](p.688) But his largest quote on the topic went like this,  

 

We learned the geometric law of speed and penetration value as against slow no-penetration value of a push. During World War I, a rifle was developed which would shoot a soft-nosed lead bullet 2,000 yards and penetrate thru 18 inches of Bessemer steel. Why? Speed. Speed lowers resistance and increases cleavage.


We learned how to use arms into a toggle mechanical action— toggle meaning a double-acting joint, where little does much. We took toggle double-acting motion, speeded it up with a recoil mechanical motion, where that toggle did much.

With this knowledge, we studied jujitsu, with purpose of learning how to turn resistance of cases against themselves; to make resistance passive, that invasion could be high to overcome resistance.


Jujitsu takes advantage and makes it into a disadvantage; takes contraction and forces it to a relaxation, so invasion can be less to accomplish more.


In the RECOIL period, INNATE IN PATIENT made the minute and final refined correction of replacement.


That any man can PUSH and/or PUSH AND PULL bones into arbitrary places HE thinks they should go, has long been believed. That some ways of PUSHING and/or PUSHING AND PULLING bones are easier than others, is obvious.


We studied to find easy ways, when we were studying that kind of work.”
[9] (Vol 23, p. 742-3)

 

This quote of B.J.’s is important because it links the art of adjustment to the philosophy and relates it directly to Stephenson’s description of Resistive Forces. According to the philosophy, the exterior forces might be either resisted by Innate or accepted by Innate. The adjustment happens when Innate accepts the force and then uses the energy of that force for correction of the vertebral subluxation. Mastering the art is the key to the philosophy.

 

DD Palmer and the Fourth Generation

 

Perhaps you may begin to understand why I love hunting through old books for gems of insight. One of my favorite treasure hunts was studying D.D. Palmer’s writings alongside the books he was reading![10-12] Every chiropractic student should take the time to read D.D. Palmer’s tome. It is not easy to do so, but with the proper context such as Todd Waters’ new book, Chasing DD, it is easier than ever. Waters’ book came out on October 20th, 2013, exactly one hundred years since D.D. Palmer’s death.

 

Very little has been written about the transmission of knowledge through touch in the chiropractic professional lineage.[13] Some of the early students of D.D. Palmer founded their own schools. Unfortunately, many early schools offered correspondence courses and some were even diploma mills. There may have even been instances in the earliest days, where fake schools were organized by anti-chiropractic agitators to hurt the young profession. Was there a transmission of sorts through touch shared through some sections of the early profession and not by others? This is certainly a hypothesis worth exploring.

 

We just entered the fourth generation of chiropractic’s history since D.D.’s death.[14] One intellectual generation is 33 years according to sociologist Randall Collins.[15] It is a good time in our history to reflect on the origins of the ideas and practices so that we may build a greater chiropractic for the future.

 

1.            Loban, J., The completeness of chiropractic philosophy. The Chiropractor, 1908. 4(7 &8): p. 30-35.

2.            Paxson, M., O. Smith, and S. Langworthy, A textbook of modernized chiropractic. 1906, Cedar Rapids (IA): American School of Chiropractic.

3.            Keating, J. and S. Troyanovich, Wisconsin versus chiropractic: the trials at LaCrosse and the bilth of a chiropractic champion. Chiropractic History, 2005. 25(1): p. 37-45.*

4.            Morikubo, S., Clinical Reports: Vertebral Adjustment. The Chiropractor, 1906. 2(4): p. 6.

5.            Morikubo, S., Are American people free? The Democrat, 1906.

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

7.            Heath Palmer, M., Chiropractic Anatomy. 1923, Davenport: Palmer College of Chiropractic.

8.            Palmer, B., Fight to climb; vol. 24. 1950, Davenport, IA: Palmer College.

9.            Palmer, B., Up from below the bottom; vol. 23. 1950, Davenport, IA: Palmer College.

10.          Senzon, S., The secret history of chiropractic. 2006, Asheville, NC: Self Published.

11.          Senzon, S., Chiropractic foundations: D.D. Palmer’s traveling library. 2007, Asheville, NC: Self published.

12.          Senzon, S., Chiropractic and energy medicine: A shared history. J Chiropr Humanit, 2008. 15: p. 27-54.

13.          Senzon, S., Constructing a philosophy of chiropractic: When worldviews evolve and postmodern core. J Chiropr Humanit, 2011. 18(1): p. 39-63.

14.          Senzon, S., Chiropractic’s Fourth Generation, in Chiropraction: The philosophy of chiropractic in action. 2013.

15.          Collins, R., The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. 1998: Harvard University Press.

 *Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.

 This article was originally published in Lifelines – the student publication of Life Chiropractic College West.

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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