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First Do No Harm

do-no-harm.jpgThe ancient Greek Hippocrates handed down his classic admonition in the 4th century B.C., contained within the Hippocratic Corpus.

What you may not know is that these four words are absent in today’s version of the Hippocratic Oath medical schools administer to their graduates. And as a result, all types of medical mischief abound, from abortion, infanticide and doctor-assisted suicide to becoming the lapdogs for pharmaceutical companies peddling concoctions that routinely kill hundreds, probably thousands, worldwide every day.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised that chiropractic isn’t immune to the same pressures of cultural relativism, political correctness and the Cult of Scientism. This is borne out by the growing number of chiropractic influencers (I don’t know what else to call them. They’re not leaders.) who are embarrassed by the principles laid down a century ago establishing chiropractic as a separate, distinct and nonduplicative healing art, separate from the practice of medicine.

I assume these misguided individuals who are ashamed of terms such as innate intelligence and subluxation mean well. It must be frustrating to be so enlightened, yet surrounded by a vast majority within the chiropractic profession content to salute their quaint hundred-year old philosophy.

And help people.

Lots of people.

People willing to reach into their pocket or purse and pay cash for a service their insurance carriers refuse to reimburse for. Do these patients have extra cash lying around? Could they be merely experience junkies with extra time on their hands to traipse to their chiropractor for a feel-good adjustment? Or maybe it’s just the placebo effect and a hypnotizing look (or touch) from their chiropractor?

I don’t think so. Something’s going on in hundreds of chiropractic practices with thousands of delighted chiropractic patients that refute the left-brain arguments advanced by a handful of chiropractors drinking the Kool-Aid of atomism and reductionism.

I know. I had to look it up too.

Atomism: A view of the world that sees it composed of individual particles. This is how medicine is set up, separating the body into identifiable parts with specialists who devote themselves to knowing more and more about less and less.

Reductionism: The belief that all complex systems can be completely understood by simply understanding their smaller, component parts.

Besides our metaphysical and spiritual qualities, what’s missing from both of these tenets of Scientism is the concept of holism, which, among chiropractors who “get” chiropractic, is the underlying foundation of practice. Instead of being misled by the patient’s presenting symptoms—named or unnamed, they focus on the whole person who happens to have the named or unnamed condition. Huge distinction.

Lacking this holism lens, oncologists (for example) regularly go to war against tumors, virtually ignoring the psycho-social-environmental aspects that create the circumstances in which the cancer can establish and take over the body. (Read more about my personal experience with this.)

Now, do I think subluxation is the cause of all disease? Nope. (Subluxation is a symptom; a short-term survival strategy that helps the body accommodate physical, chemical and emotional stress.) Do I think subluxation is present when someone is lacking the ability to fully adapt and relate to his or her environment? Highly likely.

How do I know? By keen observation. Is that too anecdotal for the evidence-based crowd? Probably. Or maybe it’s the word “subluxation” and how chiropractors define it differently than medicine. True, the medical definition is considerably more gross than the subtle nuances of subluxation observed by chiropractors. But the meanings of words commonly differ among separate disciplines.

Enamel has two very different qualities depending upon whether you’re a dentist or a painter.

Pitch has two very different meanings depending upon whether you’re a musician or an aviator.

Balloon has two very different meanings depending upon whether you’re in real estate or heart surgery.

Need I go on? Words are merely symbols that stand for ideas. Placeholders, actually. They help us make meaning of the world and reveal our point of view. That’s true for subluxation, innate intelligence or any other term used in chiropractic. Their meanings are different because chiropractic is different!

Innate intelligence: The characteristic of living things to regulate and orchestrate bodily functions, adapt to its environment and self-heal, mediated over the nervous system.

Subluxation: An interference or distortion of neurological integrity, usually along the spinal column, in which brain-to-body or body-to-brain communications are compromised, producing dysfunction or disregulation of the body.

So, you tell me. What sounds more scientific? Expensive, sometimes harmful symptom treating that ignores the underlying cause by fooling the body with numbing agents, or locating and reducing subluxations by using chiropractic adjustments to revive a patient’s innate intelligence to self heal?

Comments (11)

Large portions of Europe have already succeeded in removing GM foods from their food supply, forcing food manufacturers to use real ingredients in their European product lines. But here in the United States we’re still stuck with it to a very large degree.

It all starts with you and the choices you make when buying your food. So please spread the word. If more of us begin to refuse GM foods, food manufacturers will have no choice but to listen.

Thomas Smith DC:

A great article, Bill. I see medicine in the America's as a "disease", a pathology. And so too are the Pharmas, and companies like Monsanto creating GMO foods. Yes , sharing chiropractic wellness with the people we serve is necessary and yet the media also have extreme influence in the minds of people.
What won't be done by corporations to make a buck!

I can't believe MDs have completely taken out "do no harm." You make good points Bill. Thanks for challenging the profession. Your passion is contagious.

Michael Shreeve, D.C.:

Multuple definitions for words do create difficulty for some people.
DD Palmer was clear that we are providing a treatment to restore the person to better function and that we are to address not only the physical but the other factors that influence the performance of any system in the body. DD is also clear that we are to address the person NOT the pathology so that the person could be whole thus allowing the restoration of normal function.
We are in the people business!
Lexicon is important but regardless of what we call a subluxation it is detrimental to the body and needs to be gone, whether above or below the atlas.
This approach removes the probability of doing harm...much safer and provides a chance for long lasting change


I believe that Chiropractic is special because it looks to help the nervous system not the structure. At the end of the day there is no perfect alignment in a spine only a body who can control its functions. An MD and DC should both be asking themselves "First Do No Harm".

So great article Bill this is my first post here after reading your Monday Morning emails.

Great stuff Bill. This just inspires us again this morning to go out and tell more of the truth, more often, to more people, irregardless of the kind of response we get.

Ellen Thompson:

Wow, they don't even pretend any more. They've been harming for hundreds of years but taking an oath not to. Now, they don't have that pesky part of the oath to bother with any more.

Kresimir Jug:

The subluxation is a response to a stressful environment. It is only meant to be a short term solution to the environmental stressor. Just like the "flight or flight" response. It is life saving in the short term, but deadly in the long term.

I think the idea is if we are only adjusting subluxations and not trying to teach the individual how to better cope with stress we are practicing medicine. No better then the M.D who removes a cancer only to turn that patient back into the environment with the same toxic habits that caused his cancer in the first place. We can't make practice members choose, but we can at least give them the info.

Interesting and scary definition by Dorland. I think that medicine has pulled a fast one on us.

Remeber the body is intelligent all of the time. If we accept this statement as true we have to view "symptoms" as the best response the body could make with what it was given at the time. Not as a mistake. Which is how the allopaths view symptoms

Bill, you make some great points here that need to be heard by so many!

I am confused about one thing.

You view the subluxation as a symptom. A symptom, according to Dorland’s is defined as "any indication of disease as perceived by the patient.” (I can't find any definitions that equate symptoms to a survival strategy.) So assuming this definition is acceptable, we are implying that the patient necessarily "perceives" the subluxation, and this is an indication of "disease.” (not diss ease) A scary thought.

So if we adjust the subluxation are we now addressing a symptom? Must a person have a "perception" of subluxation for it to be present? It still sounds to me that a subluxation is a form of disease (or disc ease), or dysfunction if you will, that results from a person's inability to respond and adapt.

WDE: Cold extremities would be a survival strategy. But that’s not the point. It’s generally agreed that subluxations are caused by physical, emotional or chemical stress. Because we subluxate, we are able to accommodate greater levels of stress (without dying) than organisms that lack the ability to subluxate.

My heart felt wish is that the 50,000+ chiropractors would stop to read this entry and make a comment about how this makes them feel inside. We as a group need an infusion of the self esteem elixer that would allow us to be bold enough to become the chiropractors we know we should be. I am sincerely appreciative of your effort Bill. It is truely amazing that it takes a non DC to have his hand on the rudder of this thing called chiropractic.

P Levesque:

Thank-you for the great philosophy that really needs to guide our lives and practice. I am edified by how you have acknowledge the life affirming versus pro-death attitudes of chiropractic and medicine especially with the removal of that tiny statement call the hippocratic oath. There are a lot of -isms in the world confusing people from the truth and I can tell that you have very good "observational" skills.

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From March 17, 2010 7:56 AM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 17, 2010 7:56 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Monday Morning Motivation.

The next post in this blog is The Conversation #15.

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