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.”

Chiropractic Clear Light Books

It has been an amazing year thus far! Nine new books reissued, republished, or coming soon! I have decided to call the volumes, The Chiropractic Clear Light Books. I wasn’t going to continue with the “volumes” theme but then something happened! The books just took on a life of their own.

At first I was planning to dedicate this blog post solely to the historic republishing of the 1965 text Segmental Neuropathy: The First Evidence of Developing Pathology (announced to my email list in February). The book is just amazing, especially when we consider that it was published 49 years ago. As incredible as it is however, it was part of a much larger project and inspiration.

Inspired by Drain, Valdivia Tor, & Ratledge

As many of you know, in 2013, I republished J.R. Drain’s 1927 text, Chiropractic Thoughts. I was inspired by Drain’s book. I decided to republish it as the first of the new chiropractic classics series. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet – you will love it. It is philosophically on par with The Green Books and much easier to read!

I was also inspired by Joaquin Valdivia Tor, DC. Joaquin not only translated D.D. Palmer’s 1914 text into Spanish, but also wrote an index to that book in Spanish and English. His new book will be released next month. It includes the translation as well as an early history of chiropractic in Spanish!

With these two projects underway, I decided to re-release three of my four books and also publish the first of the Ratledge books. Ratledge was one of the last students of D.D. Palmer, a chiropractic educator for fifty years, and one of the true leaders of non-therapeutic chiropractic. Ratledge Philosophy: Volume 1 was written by his student, Paul Smallie.

It is very important for all chiropractors to study Ratledge’s work. Please consider this sentence the official announcement that Ratledge Philosophy: Volume 1 is now available for the first time since 1979.

Chiropractic Classics

Segmental Neuropathy, Chiropractic Thoughts, Ratledge Philosophy, and Valdivia Tor’s translation of D.D. are part of the Chiropractic Classics series. We should also include the new edition of D.D. Palmer’s Traveling Library. This book is the second half of my book, Chiropractic Foundations (Volume 3). It is an abridgment of the books D.D. Palmer was studying about magnetic healing, Spiritualism, and the philosophy of disease prior to his discovery of chiropractic.

There are other major texts written by 1st and 2nd generation chiropractors. Most of these books are virtually unknown to the profession today. I have already made a few of these classics available as free downloads, such as Carver’s 1936 book, History of Chiropractic (retyped by Keating), Forster’s 1921 book, The White Mark (scanned by the National archives), and Stephenson’s other 1927 book, The Art of Chiropractic. The republished classics will be growing each month.

The Breakthrough

While doing the layout and design for these books, I got inspired to redo my first three books. This has been on my wish list for years. I wanted to make them bigger, more professional, improve the quality, edit some text, and convert the books into the print on demand format like my fourth book. I did.

The big breakthrough came after a visit with Ken Wilber, while I was in Boulder studying with Donny Epstein in January. I asked Wilber if I could use some of the diagrams from his books to enhance my book Chiropractic Foundations. He gave me permission. I expanded chapter three from that book with 30 new diagrams.

This addition of the AQAL diagrams so transformed Chiropractic Foundations that the book is no longer in production. I decided to split it up into two shorter books.

The first book is based on my lectures at the Academy of Chiropractic Philosophers in 2007. The topic was the history of philosophy from Socrates to D.D. Palmer from an Integral perspective. It is being totally rewritten and republished as Towards An Integral Philosophy: A History of Universal and Innate Intelligences. The second book is D.D. Palmer’s Traveling Library: The Essential Inspirations (mentioned above). It includes several of the original chapters (from Chiropractic Foundations) establishing an historical and philosophical context as well as 300 pages of D.D.’s favorite authors.

Even though I decided in 2010 (with the reorganization of B.J.’s Epigrams) to stop referring to my books as volumes, with the publication of these nine books, I realized it was time to embrace the inevitable. A new chiropractic canon has emerged.

Reggie, Thom, and the Greenbooks

When I published my first book with a white cover and a subtitle of Volume 1, I did so with intention. There is an amazing tradition in chiropractic to publish books according to volume in a series with a colored cover.

This tradition was started by B.J. Palmer with his 39 volumes of green books with gold writing. Many have copied this style and a few have even created their own colored volumes (Cleveland’s Red books, Strauss’ Blue books, and Barge’s volumes are the most well-known attempts). I remember my own philosophy teachers, Val Pennacchio and David Koch used to jest about the colors of their own future series (purple for Val I recall – David’s book is green with gold writing!).

While president of Sherman College, Koch issued two small volumes in hardcover, Reggie Gold’s Triune of Life, and Thom Gelardi’s Inspirations. Thus, I continued, with Volume 2, The Secret History of Chiropractic: D.D. Palmer’s Spiritual Writings and Volume 3, Chiropractic Foundations: D.D. Palmer’s Traveling Library.

The Clear Light Books

I decided to refer to the volumes as The Clear Light Books. One of the main reasons for this comes from Wilber’s model of consciousness, referred to in his books as Altitude. An Altitude of Consciousness (think climbing higher on a mountain) is the space into which consciousness emerges. Each new level leads to new views of reality for the individual. Wilber refers to this as ladder (levels/structures), climber (individual), view (the perspective the individual views the world through at the new level). The philosophy of chiropractic emerged from a view of reality gravitating at a highly complex level of consciousness. Books on the philosophy should reflect this.

As you can see from Wilber’s diagram, the color spectrum is used as a way to unify several lines of development. “Clear Light” is the highest of the levels in the diagram. So the books, especially mine, point toward ever higher levels of growth and development. (This is also why my publishing company is called Integral Altitude.)

Clear Light has many other meanings as well. This is important, especially for my friends in the Sandbox (if you have read this far). One meaning relates to Gebser, one of the great cultural historians of the last century. He explained that as each new level of consciousness emerges, a greater transparency becomes evident. He called this diaphaneity. I have written about Gebser’s work in this context elsewhere.

We should be able to use the philosophy to see through the stuff that has kept the profession from developing, the shadow stuff, the un-integrated stuff, the junk that no one ever seems to talk about. Clear Light dispels shadows.

Agreement and Disagreement

The idea behind these books is not agreement although we will probably find much in common throughout The Clear Light Books. By bringing together lost classics, as one series, we capture our history and bring it forth into the future. It is time we learn from the men and women that led the first and second generations. Unfortunately their ideas have been lost to the current generation. For example, there should be a national board question that asks the aspiring chiropractor to distinguish philosophical differences between D.D. Palmer, B.J. Palmer, T.F. Ratledge, and J.R. Drain. Chiropractors should not just understand the basic facts of history. They should be taught to integrate the development of the ideas and the underlying principles of the chiropractic paradigm into daily practice.

I have already been “warned” that some groups in chiropractic might not recommend me because of the content in Segmental Neuropathy (it may go against their views on vertebral subluxation). I only posted it two weeks ago and have already gotten flack! (Please be sure to get on the email list as there are some big announcements coming up – just click the drop-down arrow above)! Why should a 1960s text critiquing a 1930s view of the nervous system stir controversy in 2014?

Controversy may also get stirred up by some of the content from Ratledge, Drain, and certainly from some of the future books. As my friends in Mexico say, “history is history.” Do we learn from the greats? From those who spent decades pondering all things chiropractic? Or do we continue to blindly fight our way into the future? I think we can widen our foundation just a bit. Don’t you?

The First Ten Volumes of Chiropractic Clear Light Books

Volume 1: The Spiritual Writings of B.J. Palmer: Anniversary Edition

The tenth anniversary edition is filled with over three dozen high resolution pictures as well as some excellent edits and additional content. This book has taken on a life of its own. Many chiropractors have told me it sits on their desk for daily inspiration. That was my hope. The new edition rocks!

Volume 2: The Secret History of Chiropractic: Second Edition

This expanded edition of Secret History has some important editorial changes. As new historical facts come to light, we need to change the way we understand what happened. The core of the text is the same although it too has expanded and has much nicer pictures. Many of the changes are focused on Solon Langworthy as his contributions to the profession, while important, were not as profound as I once thought. Other important changes relate to the landmark Morikubo trial. The book is a great introduction to the early history without losing the depth of the philosophy developed by D.D. Palmer. 

Volume 3: Chiropractic Foundations (retired)

As noted above, this book is no longer in print. 

Volume 4: Success, Health, and Happiness: The Epigrams of B.J. Palmer

 Interestingly, I wrote the title of this book without realizing that James Parker used that phrase as B.J.’s writings on success, chiropractic, health, medicine, women, and food. Other topics are organized by chapter with excerpts of his later writings as context. The book is a real treasure. 

Volume 5: Chiropractic Thoughts by J.R. Drain

 Drain’s book was written in 1927 after over a decade of practice and about seven years of teaching. He was one of the leaders of chiropractic education in the first of the twentieth century. His philosophical insights around everything from the normal complete cycle to retracing are invaluable to the modern chiropractor. To read my preface to the 2013 edition, please click here: Chiropractic Thoughts Preface

Volume 6: Los Origenes de la Quiropractica by Joaquin Valdivia Tor

 It is a great honor to help bring this translation of D.D. Palmer’s 1914 book into the world. Please share it with students and chiropractors. 

Volume 7: Ratledge Philosophy 1 by Paul Smallie

What if I told you there were some excellent short writings about the philosophy of one of D.D. Palmer’s final students? And, what if you also knew that the student owned and operated his own school for fifty years, pioneered objective straight chiropractic, kept spiritual terminology out of his teachings, made very clear distinctions between chiropractic and medicine, and wrote down most of his thoughts after 70 years as a chiropractor? What if I also told you that you may have never heard of him and probably have not read anything about him? Would you be curious?

Ratledge taught us that symptoms are manifestations of bodily adaptations to internal or external stimulations (mechanical, chemical, or thermal) and not the result of magical disease entities. Ratledge wrote down much of these ideas after selling his school in 1955 to Carl Cleveland, dealing with science boards for thirty years, legal battles, and then in the 1960s, the AMA’s newest offenses.

For 70 years, Ratledge emphasized the law-like approach to health that chiropractic utilizes. His MCT (mechanical, chemical, thermal) principles are consistent with D.D. Palmer’s teachings. Ratledge considers them to be the three primary attributes of matter. He writes, “The human body and the environment each have these qualities and are, therefore, similarly responsive to their influence, singularly and/or in combination.” His work is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the philosophy of chiropractic and the chiropractic paradigm.

Volume 8: Segmental Neuropathy: Online Edition

 Only 2000 copies of this book were printed in 1965. Instead of dissecting the text for you in a wordy and eloquent blog post (I’ll save the lecture for another format), I spent my time laying it out as a hyper-linked pdf and as a webpage. I know you will enjoy it. The book was coauthored by several leading chiropractors of its day. Himes (PSC ’31), Peterson (PSC ’47), and Watkins (Lincoln ’42), were the guiding lights. (The profession owes gratitude to Steve Walton, DC, FICC, for inspiring this release, doing all of the initial layout, writing a preface, and adding EIGHT appendices!).

Volume 9: D.D. Palmer’s Traveling Library: The Essential Inspirations

 When I completed the layout of the new edition of Chiropractic Foundations, I realized it was now way too long and it truly was two distinct books. If you are curious about the roots of D.D. Palmer’s philosophy, this is the book for you to study. 

Volume 10: Towards an Integral Philosophy: A History of Universal & Innate Intelligences by Simon Senzon

 This book is a real joy to complete. I was able to expand on the Integral chapters and also add dozens of paintings and photos to the history of philosophy sections. I am currently writing three new chapters so that the book is relevant to many of the philosophical discussions and confusions in the profession today. Stay tuned and get on the email list for announcements. 

© 2018 The Institute Chiropractic - Senzon Learning, Inc.