I just got back from a speaking gig at a chiropractic college. I had the privilege of spending two hours with students who are about to complete their college studies and, with the end in sight, have a heightened interest in the implications of actually applying what they’re learning.
Many are confused.
And no wonder. Not just because my presentation usually interrupts their left-brain dominated existence, but also because much of their education has a decidedly medical fragrance. The philosophy of chiropractic and its metaphysical foundations have been suppressed in favor of a more limited, mechanical perspective. Is subluxation real? What do patients want? What if chiropractic doesn’t work? Should I wear a lab coat? What will the insurance companies pay for?
Ah. Follow the money!
The path of least resistance has been to transmute chiropractic into that which is reimbursable. And of course, this is the slippery slope chiropractic ventured on to when the cry was for “insurance equality.” The insurance industry is based on an allopathic model, so chiropractors quickly learned to jettison their subluxation for “sprains and strains.” And rather than advance the whole body effects of subluxation correction, chiropractic was reduced to a spinal therapy quantified by the regions given attention.
Why was the philosophical foundation of chiropractic so easily relinquished? I’m sure there are other reasons, but I can’t help but think it has something to do with the dimension that chiropractic shares with medicine.
I believe that patient interventions delivered by doctors, therapists, chiropractors or any other type of healer can be divided into two categories. Interventions that ameliorate pain, suppress or reduce unwanted symptoms, remove unwanted body parts and artificially stimulate or depress bodily functions can be rightfully called Sick Care because they are only rendered when patients are obviously sick. Other interventions serve to advance one’s health and well-being, enhance our ability to adapt, improve longevity and remove barriers that prevent us from our complete expression. Regardless of whether this is self-administered or delivered by a licensed practitioner, call this Life Care. Sick Care when you’re sick. Life Care when you want to optimize your life. Chiropractors, unlike medical practitioners, have the choice of offering Sick Care and Life Care and even Sick Care or Life Care.
This is probably one of the sources of the “Tastes great!” “Less filling!” argument that dogs chiropractic and part of the confusion I sensed in my student audience this morning.
There’s no shame in being a Sick Care chiropractor. And there isn’t any superiority granted chiropractors who aspire to offer Life Care. Each delivers tremendous value and serves their constituencies based on their beliefs, intentions and skill sets. But it seems to be producing an identity crisis hobbling our newest chiropractors.