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Patients Without Bodies

Get patients back into their body!As the spirit of fear continues to be promoted by the mainstream media, more and more patients are making choices that reveal that attending to their health isn’t among their higher priorities. This is serving to empty some practices who have had the habit of attracting patients who consulted a chiropractor only if the bill was assumed by a third party.

Today, with $1000 deductibles or higher, many patients are deciding that attending to their neuromuscular-skeletal complaint can wait. Or should clear up in considerably fewer visits than when their insurance company picked up the tab.

This puts many veteran chiropractors in a situation they’ve never experienced before. Besides discovering how significant the influence of insurance companies has been in determining a patient’s decision to begin and continue care, they are discovering how powerless they are to enforce their usual treatment plans. The rote, almost mindless “three times a week for the first four weeks, followed by two times a week for the next four weeks, blah, blah, blah" is increasingly ignored by patients.

A solution is contained within an observation that many chiropractors may have overlooked.

I’m told that the technical term is “disembodiment.” It refers to a person who has disassociated him or herself from their own body. Their body is merely a mechanism to move their mind from place to place. It explains why so many patients often wait until their symptoms are severe before seeking chiropractic care. Their body has to practically shout to be noticed and scream to cause their owner to make a change.

But some chiropractors are actually accomplices. All too many are quick to rush in and accept responsibility for ameliorating the patient’s symptom! This conversation doesn’t actually happen, but its effect does:

Patient: “Hey doc, I have these headaches and they’re killing me. Will you take away my headaches so I can feel better?”

Chiropractor: “No problem, I’ve helped many patients with headaches. Leave it to me. Simply follow my recommendations and I can help you.”

This is medical model, where the symptom is the bogyman and the chiropractor gets to be the heroic savior. It’s played out in all too many chiropractic offices. Instead of reducing nerve interference so the patient’s body can better invoke the healing response, the chiropractor has succumbed to treating headaches. That’s the practice of medicine. Fall for this and you’ll take chiropractic back 50-70 years and find yourself in jail for practicing medicine without a license.

Instead, you could help a patient understand that their headache (back pain, asthma, cancer; you name it) is the perfect and innately inspired response to their body’s attempt at accommodating stress. Just imagine how busy your practice would be today if, for the last 10 years you hadn’t been treating [insert symptom of choice], but invoking their body’s response to physical, chemical or emotional stress—and the patient understood the distinction.

I know. That doesn’t help solve your current problem. But here’s something that could.

Identify various groups of people who are more likely to be living in their body. People who are more likely to care about their body, its health and performance because they fully occupy theirs. People such as yoga practitioners, bicycle club members, health food store patrons, joggers, massage therapy patients, dancers, musicians, athletes, bricklayers; you get the idea. There are probably dozens of identifiable niches that are populated by people more likely to be in touch with their bodies than the general public. Your mission? Find ways to present the truth about chiropractic to them.

Put your energy here instead of stewing about the economy and worrying about your bills. There are many for whom money is no object. Hope and results are. Instead of holed up in your office, playing the victim, waiting for circumstances to change, take action. Practice chiropractic instead of medicine. And make sure patients know the difference.

Comments (3)

Fire destroys, it also purifies. We may be at the dawn of a new age of chiropractic!

Tony Russo:

Bill,
you have a very, very sensitive finger on the pulse of Chiropractic. You do realize though, that this is how 97% of all Chiropractic offices function. Under their breath, they say that if it wasn't for -----shield or -----cross, they'd be out of business. Some say that if it wasn't for orthotics, if it wasn't for braces, if it wasn't for's...they'd be out of business. You're right. I'm worried.

Krystal G.:

Empowering words. As a survivor of sexual and physical abuse, I have seen my own tendency to live "without a body." Wouldn't it be difficult to accept something as your own if "it's making you" feel and experience things you don't want to feel or experience? When do I notice my mind most alert, balanced, and aware? When do I feel mentally at my worst? The answers to those questions bring me back to the truth that our physical bodies and minds are intricately connected, and cannot be separated.

Thank you for the thoughts, Bill.

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From November 17, 2009 5:54 PM

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