When I wrote last week’s post (Why We Can’t Get Along) exploring the language barrier that exists in chiropractic, I had no idea that a low-pressure system was simultaneously blowing in one more attempt at unity between the ACA and the ICA.
My guess is that the ICA rejection of the overture initiated by Congress of Chiropractic State Associations (COCSA) wasn’t merely obstructionism or the inability to understand the savings that could come by eliminating redundant staffing, office space, lobbyists or the continuing confusion among lawmakers. It’s something much deeper.
So what’s the problem? Here’s my take.
While much lip service is paid to the notion that what the two factions share in common is far greater than what divides them, I’m not convinced. Yes, each party would like to see chiropractic thrive and each party spells and pronounces the word “chiropractic” pretty much the same and applies the same variety of adjusting techniques and probably produce similarly high levels of patient satisfaction.
But today, those with a more “philosophical” bent are in the minority, so there is a legitimate concern that their voice would be lost in the machinery of a larger, “unified” chiropractic trade group. Instead, they would be asked to support a colder, more pragmatic view of chiropractic that appears to advocate being...
Assimilated. To be seen as an adjunct to the mainstream medical-industrial complex rather than standing up as a separate and distinct healing art.
Limited. To the relief of neuromuscular-skeletal complaints rather than seeing chiropractic as primarily a neurologically-focused intervention with whole-body implications.
Minimized. To sanction the use of language like “manipulate” and “treat” while ignoring their implications, thus minimizing the intent of a chiropractic adjustment.
Some see these as superficial nuances. And that’s the problem! If you characterize these distinctions and the time-tested principles behind them as merely semantically or self-indulgent hair-splitting, you have identified the very reason why efforts to unify the chiropractic profession have been consistently rebuffed. And will continue to be, regardless of the demands of COCSA or the threats of the Ohio State Chiropractic Association to urge members to withhold their financial support of the ACA and ICA until the merger is complete.
“You’re willing to sabotage the entire profession over something as unimportant as this?”
“Absolutely. Chiropractic is worth protecting. Otherwise all those chiropractors who surrendered their practices to go to jail did so in vain and the Herculean effort to go state by state to secure licensure was a waste of time.”
“Sure, but in the mean time, our ability to influence lawmakers and get insurance companies to toe the line is hamstrung. You’re willing to make a fuss about some philosophical issue when the very future of the profession is at stake?!?”
First, if the future of chiropractic is that tenuous, then it doesn’t need to “survive.” In fact, if it weren’t for being able to see what happened when osteopathy sold out and assimilated into the "borg," this might be a valid argument. If compromising the principles of chiropractic is required to “save” chiropractic, then let’s not save it.
Second, if the future of chiropractic is based totally on the generosity of insurance companies, then not only is the profession doomed, but by all rights it shouldn’t even have survived its first 80 years!
Don’t get me wrong. I want a unified chiropractic profession. But if you’re really interested in this noble goal, begin by defining your terms! Besides the 18 pairs of words from my previous post, agree to the meanings of these additional words as well: principled chiropractic, ease, dis-ease, innate intelligence, and while you’re at it: unity. Only until all the constituencies can agree of a common vernacular, the perennial call for unity (however it’s defined) will remain unattainable.
If I've got this wrong, let me know.