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.

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 Honesty

I was recently made aware of a blog post written by Stephen Perle,[1] a well-known voice in the chiropractic profession and a professor at a chiropractic college. Interestingly, the subtitle of Perle’s blog is, “A forum for intellectual honesty.” In my view, intellectual honesty requires that we include as many perspectives as possible, not only one, because it is bound to be limited, narrow in focus, and prone to errors.

It is obvious that Dr. Perle thinks his approach is historically accurate. Unfortunately, such assumptions are at the core of chiropractic’s internal conflicts. When we don’t consider our own perspectives and how they shade our point of view, we are prone to think that we must be correct. Add to that a hand full of references that come from the same perspective and a self-perpetuating false authority gets established. In my first blog post I compared this to the telephone game.[2]

More than anything, I seek to build bridges in the chiropractic profession. Doing so makes it vitally important to point out faulty arguments and bad scholarship so that we may all move forward together. There is hardly anything more important in a profession than good scientific research, accurate historical accounting, and solid philosophical reasoning. When these three methodological approaches are utilized from the widest possible perspectives, we are likely to find large areas of agreement.

Since the post in question was written in 2009, I would have ignored it at this point if not for the fact that it was recently sent to all of the members of a state association. And, it does represent some of the most basic mistakes being made in historical interpretations of the philosophy of chiropractic, so here we go…

Perle begins the article by pointing out the important research of the late Joe Keating. One of Keating’s main contributions to the history and philosophy of chiropractic was establishing how D.D. Palmer’s ideas evolved during his final decade of life.[3]

Palmer’s use of the term vertebral subluxation was only written down after the 1907 Morikubo trial, and after it was widely used in Smith, Langworthy, and Paxson’s textbook.[4]  There is no written evidence of Palmer’s use of the term subluxation before. The term is generally attributed to Langworthy and made important to the profession based on the Morikubo case.

So, I don’t really take issue with the fact, that Perle would equate all of D.D.’s previous theories with his final theory. That is common pluralistic thinking in academia. But to suggest that D.D.’s final writings on chiropractic DID NOT set the tone for decades of the profession’s core focus on vertebral subluxation is bizarre.

In fact, Perle goes so far as to suggest that embracing the vertebral subluxation as chiropractic’s core identity is an “attempt to revise the history of chiropractic.” Does this seem Orwellian to you? Just look at the facts.

The vertebral subluxation as a clinical entity is considered by several researchers and scholars in the profession as its reason for being.[5-7] Furthermore, our understanding of the biological mechanisms of vertebral subluxation is constantly evolving, and not rooted in one model.

Historically, it wasn’t just B.J. Palmer and his school that took up the mantle of vertebral subluxation although the Palmer School certainly carried the torch. Many schools and associations have focused on vertebral subluxation going all the way back to the earliest days. Even the leaders of National College of Chiropractic embraced the scientific research of vertebral subluxation since its earliest days; Howard incorporated it into his encyclopedic system, Forster wrote about it extensively, and Janse developed his own theories about vertebral subluxation.[8-12] Not to mention the fact that vertebral subluxation terminology is codified in state law, federal law, Medicare, as well as chiropractic’s main trade organizations. And, 88% of chiropractors want to retain the term.[13]

I will be the first to agree that the traditional use of the term was embedded in other philosophical concepts that made it difficult to consider it solely in terms of objective physiology, but that is another discussion.

The historical and scientific veracity of vertebral subluxation is hardly the main issue at hand. The issue is really philosophical honesty while understanding the importance of perspectives. I will discuss this issue based on three other historical inaccuracies and omissions from the Perle blog post. All three can be viewed in terms of the philosophical perspectives that the Palmer’s attempted to imbue into the profession and a lack of understanding of the role perspectives play in human thinking.

The next problem comes from Perle’s referencing of Gaucher-Peslherbe’s research.[14, 15] He points out the important fact that D.D. Palmer was indeed better read in anatomy, physiology, and surgery than most medical doctors of his day (Perle doesn’t go that far, but Gaucher-Peslherbe does). Perle then uses this fact along with D.D.’s revisions of his ideas to suggest that chiropractors today should be able to rethink chiropractic.

If that were it, I would say, sure whatever, that seems to be what has been happening anyway if you read the literature on vertebral subluxation research, and keep up with technique development in the profession. The problem is that Perle completely omits Gaucher’s main conclusions about D.D. Palmer’s theories and the important role they played in the history of physiology.

Gaucher-Peslherbe was a medical historian who completed his Ph.D. at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (French for School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences). His dissertation was published by National (at the urging of Louis Sportelli) as a book entitled, Chiropractic: Early Concepts in Their Historical Settings. D.D. Palmer’s theories are explored in the context of a history of such theories in the medical literature. Gaucher concluded that Palmer was way ahead of his time and contributed to the physiological literature in a significant way. Gaucher Peslherbe writes,

“D.D. Palmer was undoubtedly a visionary…It was because of this vision that he was able to formulate a scientific definition of the concept of subluxation that was in many ways far superior to anything that medicine and chiropractic were able to produce subsequently.” [15](p.166)

He even went so far as to compare Palmer’s wider philosophical approach in terms of subluxation and “what causes disharmony in man,” to philosophers from the last century such as Bergson, Freud, Merleau Ponty, and Heidegger.

A few other glaring mistakes in the Perle “history” should be pointed out:

Perle offers up a picture of the Rehabilitation Laboratory that was part of the B.J. Palmer Research Clinic in the 1940s. Perle points out that B.J. Palmer’s signature (what we might call a logo today) was on the rugs, thus Perle writes, “What this shows is that even BJ Palmer wasn’t so pure and straight as he “mixed” using rehab.” The logic itself is appalling but to so misrepresent B.J. Palmer’s approach and philosophy is a mistake. Perhaps the mistake is because the Lab was called Rehabilitation Lab? I’m not sure but it certainly shows a lack of knowledge.*

The intent of the Rehab Lab was congruent with Palmer’s Innate philosophy. The premise of the lab was  that the internal self-organizing functions of the organism should be allowed to assimilate the energetic changes set in motion by the adjustment through self-guided movements. Thus the whole concept of rehabilitation was turned on its head. I would add, this was because it originated from a perspective that focused on the inherent autopoietic aspects of the organism. It was an inside-out approach to assist the organism to more fully integrate and express the innate intelligence.

The photo itself is from a magazine from 1945 about the Palmer research clinic. In the magazine it clearly states, “At no time, in no way, do we use any therapeutic apparatus on any case.” The Rehab Lab was really for research purposes and also for a place for patients to “digest” the energy now freely moving to paralyzed parts after the adjustment. Patients were not directed to use the equipment and there were no electrical devices besides a riding horse, “which was seldom used.”

Yet another mistake in the blog post is the erroneous claim that the term “innate intelligence” was coined in the book Modernized Chiropractic and used by Palmer after the Morikubo case like subluxation. Not true. Palmer’s first documented use of Innate comes from an article in 1906.[16, 17] In addition, Modernized Chiropractic does not even mention Innate Intelligence!

Finally, Perle refers to the philosophy of chiropractic as a pseudo-religion. I have dealt with this elsewhere and this blog post is way too long.[18]**

As I see it, the core issue (besides mistakes) is a misunderstanding of the role of perspectives in chiropractic. This is a common problem in chiropractic and in most professions.

As adults develop, the research shows that they can increase in the complexity of their thinking and be able to take on more and more perspectives. The level of thinking that most adults are assured to reach is the objective, rational, third-person point of view. Research shows, somewhere around 40% of our culture are at this level.[19, 20] It used to be thought that this was the height of human development, the rational scientific thinker. This is the person who can comfortably deal in 3rd person perspectives. That is, he or she can take the role of another and even view themselves as an “it” or an “object.” Children have not developed this ability yet, and teens are new to this perspective.

Here is the problem, not only may people develop to even more complex ways of viewing the world, such as 4th person perspectives, 5th person perspectives, etc…, but those of us who spend our days relying on 3rd person perspectives might miss that! We don’t even know those other perspectives exist. And, we may generally confuse all other perspectives as less objective than ours, because anything that is not 3rd person perspective tends to look the same to us; probably 2nd person, or at least dogmatic or fundamentalist.

This becomes a real problem in a profession like chiropractic because evidence shows that D.D. Palmer was one of the first post-conventional thinkers of our era and may have attempted to establish the first 4th person perspectival profession.[21] And get this, his son may have even developed to 5th person perspectives or higher in his later years.[22]

Let’s just all take a step back and acknowledge that we might not have the entire truth even though it sure feels like we do. In fact, we might each have partial truths that could in some way blend together and make for a much stronger profession.

Instead of dismissing “everyone” you disagree with as dogmatists, which has become a very tired and philosophically shallow approach in the profession,[23, 24] let’s see if we can determine what else might be going on that other scientific researchers, perhaps in the social sciences, might shed light upon that we are just missing. Honesty comes from facing things you did not even know were there and accepting them.

References

1. Perle, S. 2009. Foundation for Anachronistic Chiropractic Pseudo-Religion, in Perles of Wisdom: A forum for intellectual honesty.

2. Senzon, S. 2012. Chiropractic games & distortions of truth, in Chiropraction.

3. Keating, J. 1992. The evolution of Palmer’s metaphors and hypotheses. Philosophical Constructs for the Chiropractic Profession, 2(1): p. 9-19.

4. Smith, Oakley G., Solon. M. Langworthy, and Minora C. Paxson. 1906. Modernized chiropractic. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: S.M. Langworthy.

5. Haavik-Taylor, H., K. Holt, and B. Murphy. 2010. Exploring the Neuromodulatory effects of vertebral subluxation. Chiropr J Aust. 40: p. 37-44.

6. Gatterman, M. 2005. Foundations of Chiropractic Subluxation: 2nd Ed. St. Louis: Mosby. [Description @ googlebooks]

7. Boone, W. and G. Dobson. 1997. A proposed vertebral subluxation model reflecting traditional concepts and recent advances in health and science: Part I. 1(1). [Abstract]

8. Beideman, R. 1996. The role of the encyclopedic Howard System in the professionalization of Chiropractic National College, 1906-1981. Chiropr Hist. 16(2): p. 29-41.

9. Phillips, R. 2006. Joseph Janse: The apostle of chiropractic education. Los Angeles: R. Phillips.

10. Janse, J. 1975. History of the development of chiropractic concepts: Chiropractic terminology, in The research status of spinal manipulative therapy: A workshop held at the National Institutes of Health, February 2-4, 1975. M. Goldstein, Editor. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare: Bethesda. p. 25-42.

11. Forster, A. The White Mark: An editorial history of chiropractic. 1921. Chicago: National Publishing Association.

12. Forster, A. 1923. Principles and practice of chiropractic. Chicago: The National Publishing Association.

13. McDonald, W., K. Durkin, and M. Pfefer, How chiropractors think and practice: The survey of North American Chiropractors. Seminars in Integrative Medicine, 2004. 2(3): p. 92-98. [ABSTRACT]

14. Gaucher-Peslherbe, P. G. Wiese, and J. Donahue. 1995. Daniel David Palmer’s Medical Library: The Founder was “Into the Literature.”. Chiropr Hist. 15(2): p. 63-69.

15. Gaucher, P. 1993. Chiropractic: Early concepts in their historical setting. Chicago: National College of Chiropractic.

16. Zarbuck, M. 1988. Innate Intelligence (Part 1). Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic, 1987. 8(4): p. 12-13.

17. Zarbuck, M. 1988. Innate Intelligence (Part 2). Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic, 1988. 9(1): p. 11,16.

18. Senzon, S. 2011. Constructing a philosophy of chiropractic: When worldviews evolve and Premodern roots. J Chiropr Humanit, 18(1);10-23.

19. Cook-Greuter S. 2007. Ego development: Nine levels of increasing embrace. Wayland, MA: Cook-Greuter & Associates.

20. Kegan, R. and L. Lahey, The immunity to change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization2009, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press. [Preview @ Google Books]

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

22. Senzon, S., B.J. Palmer: An integral biography. Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 2010. 5(3): p. 118-136.

23. Keating, J., et al. 2005. Subluxation: dogma or science. Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 13(17).

24. Simpson, J. 2011. The five eras of chiropractic & the future of chiropractic as seen through the eyes of a participant observer. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. 20(1).

*Please click here to explore photos and quotes about the BJPCC Rehabilitation Lab.

**These themes are explored in greater detail in my online courses.

 

 

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