Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    To readers of my book on the Philosophy of Osteopathy, I wish to say that I will not tire you with a book of compilations just to sell to the anxious reader.  As I have spent thirty years of my life reading and following rules and remedies used for curing, and learned in sorrow it was useless to listen to their claims, for instead of getting good, I obtained much harm therefrom, I asked for, and obtained a mental divorce from them, and I want it to be understood that drugs and I are as far apart as the East is from the West; now, and forever.  Henceforth I will follow the dictates of nature in all I say or write.


    I quote no authors but God and experience when I write, or lecture to the classes or the masses, because no book written by medical writers can be of much use to us, and it would be very foolish to look to them for advice and instruction on a science they know nothing of.  They are illy able to advise for themselves, they have never been asked to advise us, and I am free to say but few persons who have been pupils of my school have tried to get wisdom from medical writers and apply it as worthy to be taught as any part of Osteopathy, philosophy or practice.  Several books have been compiled, called "Principles of 0steopathy."  They may sell but will fail to give the knowledge the student desires.


    The student of any philosophy succeeds best by the more simple methods of reasoning.  We reason for needed knowledge only, and should try and start out with as many known facts as possible.  If we would reason on diseases of the organs of the head, neck, abdomen or pelvis, we must first know where these organs are, how and from what arteries the eye, ear, or tongue is fed.


    I believe you are taught anatomy in our school more thoroughly than any other school to date, because we want you to carry a living picture of all or any part of the body in your mind as a ready painter carries the picture of the face, scenery, beast or any thing he wishes to represent by his brush.  He would only be a waster of time and paint and make a daub that would disgust any one who would employ him.  We teach you anatomy in all its branches, that you may be able to have and keep a living picture before your mind all the time, so you can see all joints, ligaments, muscles, glands, arteries, veins, lymphatics, fascia superficial and deep, all organs, how they are fed, what they must do, and why they are expected to do a part, and what would .follow in case that part was not done well and on time.  I feel free to say to my students, keep your minds full of pictures of the normal body all the time, while treating the afflicted.


    In answer to the questions of how long have you been teaching this discovery, and what books are essential to the study?  I will say I began to give reasons for my faith in the laws of life as given to men, worlds and beings by the God of nature, June, 1874, when I began to talk and propound questions to men of learning.  I thought the sword, and cannons of nature were pointed and trainee upon our systems of drug doctoring.


    I asked Dr. J. M. Neal, of Edinburg, Scotland, for some information that I needed badly.  He was a medical doctor of five years training, a man of much mental ability, who would give his opinions freely and to the point.  I have been told by one or more Scotch M.D.'s that a Dr. John M. Neal, of Edinburg, was hung for murder.  He was not hung while with me.  The only thing made me doubt him being a Scotchman was he loved whiskey, and I had been told that the Scotch were a sensible people.  John M. Neal said that "drugs was the bait of fools"; it was no science, and the system of drugs was only a trade, followed by the doctor for the money that could be obtained by it from the ignorant sick.  He believed that nature was a law capable of vindicating its power all over the world.


    As this writing is for the information of the student I will continue the history by saying, that in the early days of Osteopathy I sought the opinions of the most learned, such as Dr. Schnebly, Professor of Language and History in the Baker University, Baldwin, Kanms; Dr. Dallas, a very learned M. D. of the Allopathic faith; Dr.  F. A.  Grove, well-known in Kirksville; J. B. Abbott, Indian agent, and many others of renown.  Then back to the tombs of the dead, to better acquaint myself with the systems of medicine and the foundations of truth upon which they stood, if any.  I will not worry your patience with a list of this names of authors that have written upon the subject of medicine, as remedial agents.  I will use the word that the theologian often uses when asked whom Christ died for, the answer universally is, ALL. All intelligent medical writers say by word or inference that drugs or drugging is a system of blind guess work, and if we should let our opinions be governed by the marble lambs and other emblems of dead babies found in the cemeteries of the world, we would say that John M. Neal was possibly hung for murder, not through design, but through traditional ignorance of the power of nature to cure both old and young, by skillfully adjusting the engines of life so as to bring forth pure and healthy blood, the greatest known germicide, to one capable to reason who has the skill to conduct the vitalizing and protecting fluids to throat, lungs and all parts of the system, and ward off diseases as nature's God has indicated.  With this faith and method of reasoning, I began to treat diseases by Osteopathy as an experimenter, and notwithstanding I obtained good results in all cases in diseases of climate and contagions, I hesitated for years to proclaim to the world that there was but little excuse or a master engineer to lose a child in cases of diphtheria, croup, measles, mumps, whooping cough, flux and other forms of summer diseases, peculiar to children.  Neither was it necessary for the adult to die with diseases of summer, fall and winter.  But at last I took my stand on this rock and my confidence in nature, where I have stood and fought the battles, and taken the enemy's flag in every engagement for the last twenty-five years.


    As you contemplate studying this science have asked to know the necessary studies, I wish to impress it upon your minds that you begin with anatomy, and you end with anatomy, a knowledge of anatomy is all you want or need, as it is all you ever will use in your practice, although you may live one hundred years.  You asked for my opinion as the founder of the science.  Yours is an honest question, and God being my judge will give you just as honest an answer.  As I have said, a knowledge of anatomy with its application covers every inch of ground that is necessary to qualify you to become a skillful and successful Osteopath, when you go forth into the world to combat diseases.


    I will now define what I mean by anatomy.  I speak by comparison and tell you what belongs to the study of anatomy.  I will take a chicken whose parts and habits all persons are familiar with to illustrate.  The chicken has a head, a neck, a breast, a tail, two legs, two wings, two eyes, two ears, two feet, one gizzard, one crop, one set of bowels, one liver, and one heart.  This chicken has a nervous system, a glandular system, a muscular system, a system of lungs and other parts and principles not necessary to speak of in detail.  But I want to emphasize, they belong to the chicken, and it would not be a chicken without every part or principle.  These must all be present and answer roll call or we do not have a complete chicken.  Now I will try and give you the parts of anatomy and the books that pertain to the same.  You want some standard author on descriptive anatomy in which you learn the form and places of all bones, the place and uses of ligaments, muscles and all that belong to the soft parts.  Then from the descriptive anatomy you are conducted into the dissecting room, in which you receive demonstrations, and are shown all parts through which blood and other fluids are conducted.  So far you see you are in anatomy.  From the demonstrator you are conducted to another room or branch of anatomy called physiology, a knowledge of which no Osteopath can do without and be a success.  In that room you are taught how the blood and other fluids of life are produced, and the channels through which this fluid is conducted to the heart and lungs for purity and other qualifying processes, previous to entering the heart for general circulation to nourish and sustain the whole human body.  I want to insist and impress it upon your minds that this is as much a part of anatomy as a wing is a part of a chicken.  From this room of anatomy you are conducted to the room of histology, in which the eye is aided by powerful microscopes and made acquainted with the smallest arteries of the human body, which in life are of the greatest known importance, remembering that in the room of histology you are still studying anatomy, and what that machinery can and does execute every day, hour, and minute of life.  From the histological room you are conducted to the room of elementary chemistry, in which you learn something of the laws of association of substances, that you can the better understand what has been told you in the physiological room, which is only a branch of anatomy, and intended to show you nature can and does successfully compound and combine elements for muscles, blood, teeth and bone.  From there you are taken to the room of the clinics, where you are first made acquainted with both the normal and abnormal human body, which is only continuation of the study of anatomy. From there you are taken to the engineer's room (or operator's room) in which you are taught how to observe and detect abnormalities and the effect or effects they may and do produce, and how they effect health and cause that condition known as disease.


    Principles to an Osteopath means a perfect plan and specification to build in form a house, an engine, a man, a world, or anything for an object or purpose.  To comprehend this engine of life or man which is so constructed with all conveniences for which it was made, it is necessary to constantly keep the plan and specification before the mind, and in the mind, to such a degree that there is no lack of knowledge of the bearings and uses of all parts.  After a complete knowledge of all parts with their forms, sizes and places of attachment which should be so thoroughly grounded in the memory that there would be no doubt of the intent of the builder for the use or purpose of the great and small parts, and why they have a part to perform in the workings of the engine.  When this part of the specification is thoroughly learned from anatomy or the engineer's guide book, he will then take up the chapter on the division of forces, by which this engine moves and performs the duties for which it was created.   In this chapter the mind will be referred to the brain to obtain a knowledge of that organ, where the force starts, how it is conducted to any belt, pully, journal, or division of the whole building.  After learning where the force is obtained, and how conveyed from throughout the whole body, he becomes interested and wisely instructed.  He sees the various parts of this great system of life when preparing fluids commonly known as blood, passing through a set of tubes both great and small -- some so vastly small, as to require the aid of powerful microscopes to see their infinitely small forms, through which the blood and other fluids are conducted by the heart and force of the brain, to construct organs, muscles, membranes and all the things necessary to life and motion, to the parts separately and combined.  By this minute Acquaintance with the normal body which has been learned in the specification as written in standard authors of anatomy and the dissecting rooms, he is well prepared to be invited into the inspection room to receive comparisons between the normal and abnormal engines, built according to nature's plan and specification, and absolutely perfect.  He is called into this room for the purpose of comparing engines that have been strained from being thrown off the track, or run against other bodies with such force as to bend journals, pipes, break or loosen bolts; or otherwise deranged, so as to render it useless until repaired.  To repair signifies to readjust from the abnormal condition in which the machinist finds it, to the condition of the normal engines which stand in the shop of repairs.  His inspection would commence by first lining up the wheels with straight journals; then be would naturally be conducted to the boiler, steam chest, shafts, and every part that belongs to a completed engine.  To know that they are straight and in place as shown upon the plan and described by the specification, he has done all that is required of a master mechanic.  Then it goes into the hands of the engineer, who waters, fires and conducts this artificial being on its journey.  You as Osteopathic machinists can go no farther than to adjust the abnormal condition, in which you find the afflicted.  Nature will do the rest.


    The Osteopath reasons if he reasons at all, that order and health are inseparable, and that when order in all parts is found, disease cannot prevail, and if order is complete and disease should be found, there is no use for order.  And if order and health are universally one in union, then the doctor cannot usefully, physiologically, or philosophically be guided by any scale of reason, otherwise.  Does a chemist get results desired by accident?  Are your accidents more likely to get good results than his?  Does order and success demand thought and cool headed reason?  If we wish to be governed by reason, we must take a position that is founded on truth and capable of presenting facts, to prove the validity of all truths we present.  A truth is only a hopeful supposition if it is not supported by results.   Thus all nature is kind enough to willingly exhibit specimens of its work as vindicating witnesses of its ability to prove its assertions by its work.  Without that tangible proof, nature ' would belong to the gods of chance.  The laws of mother, conception, growth and birth, from atoms to worlds would be a failure, a universe without a head to direct.  But as the beautiful works of nature stand today, and in all time past, fully able by the evidence it holds before the eye and mind of reason, that all beings great and small came by the law of cause and effect, are we not bound to work by the laws of cause, if we wish an effect?  If the heavens do move by cause when was its beings divorced from that great law?  Are we not bound to trust and work by the old and reliable self-evident laws, by the old and reliable self-evident laws until something later has proven its superior  ability to ward off disease and cure the sick.


    I know of no part of the body that equals fascia as a hunting ground.  I believe that more rich golden throught will appear to the mind's eye as the study of the fascia is pursued than any division of the body. Still one part is just as great and useful as any other in its place.  No part can be dispensed with.  But the fascia is the ground in which all causes of death do the destruction of life.  Every view we take, a wonder appears.  Here we find a place for the white corpuscles building anew and giving strength to throw impurities from the body by tubes that run from the skin to tanks of useful fluids, that would heap up and are no longer of use in the body.  No doubt nerves exist in the fascia that change the fluid to gas, and force it through the spongy and porous system as a delivery by the vital chain of wonders, that go on all the time to keep nerves wholly pure.


    I dislike to write, and only do so, when I think my productions will go into the hands of kind-hearted geniuses who read, not to find a book of quotations, but to go with the soul of the subject that is being explored for its merits, weigh all truths and help bring its uses front for the good of man.

    Osteopathy has not asked a place in written literature prior to this date, and does not hope to appear on written pages even to suit the author of this imperfectly written book.


    Columbus had to launch and navigate much and long, and meet many storms, because he had not the written experience of other travelers to guide him.  He had only a few bits of driftwood not common to his home growth, to cause him to move as he did.  But there was a fact, a bit of wood that did not grow on his home soil.

    He reasoned that it must be from some land amid the sea whose shores had not before been known to his race.  With these facts and his powerful mind of reason, he met all opposition, and moved alone; just as all men do who have no use for theories as their compass to guide them through the storms.  This opposition a mental explorer must meet.

    I felt that I must anchor my boat to living truths and follow them wheresoever they might drift.  Thus I launched my boat many years ago on the open seas, fearlessly, and have never found a wave of scorn nor abuse that truth could not eat, and do well on.


    We often speak of truth.  We say great truths, and use many other qualifying expressions.  But no one truth is greater than any other truth.  Each has a sphere of usefulness peculiar to itself.  Thus we should treat with respect and reverence all truths, great and small.  A truth is the complete work of nature, which can only be demonstrated by the vital principle belonging to that class of truths.  Each truth or division as we see it, can only be made known to us by the self evident fact, which this truth is able to demonstrate by its action.

    If we take man as our object to base the beginning of our reason, we find the association of many elements, which differ iii kind to suit the purpose for which they were designed.  To us they act, to us they are wisely formed and located for the purpose for which they were designed.  Through our five senses we deal with the material body.  It has action.  That we observe by vision which connects the mind to reason.  High above the five senses on the subject of cause or causes of this, is motion.  By the testimony of the witness the mind is connected in a manner by which it can reason on solidity and size.  By smell, taste and sound, we make other connections between the chambers of reason and the object we desire to reason upon; and thus our foundation on which all five witnesses are arrayed to the superior principle which is mind.

    After seeing a human being complete in form, self moving, with power to stop or go on at will, to us he seems to obey some commander.  He seems to go so far and stop; he lies down and gets up; he turns round and faces the objects that are traveling in the same direction he does.  Possibly he faces the object by his own action.  Then by about facing, he sees one coming with greater velocity, sees he can not escape by his own speed, so he steps aside and lets that body pass on, as though he moved in obedience to some order.  The bystander would ask the question, "How did he know such a dangerous body was approaching?" He finds on the most crucial examination, that the sense of hearing is wholly without reason.  The same is true with all the five senses pertaining to man, beast, or bird.  This being the condition of the five physical senses, we are forced by reason to conclude there is a superior being who conducts the material man, sustains, supports and guards against danger; and after all our explorations, we have to decide that man is triune when complete.


    First the material body, second the spiritual being, third a being of mind which is far superior to all vital motions and material forms, whose duty is to wisely manage this great engine of life.  This great principle known as mind, must depend for all evidences on the five senses, and on this testimony, all mental conclusions are bad, and all orders from this mental court are issued to move to any point or stop at any place.  Thus to obtain good results, we must blend ourselves with, and travel in harmony with nature's truths.  When this great machine man, ceases to move in all its parts, which we call death, the explorers knife discovers no mind, no motion.  He simply finds formulated matter with no motor to move it, with no mind to direct it.  He can trace the channels through which the fluids have circulated, he can find the relation of parts to other parts; in fact by the knife, he can expose to view the whole machinery that once was wisely active.  Suppose the explorer is able to add the one principle motion, at once we would see an action but it would be a confused action.  Still he is not the man desired to be produced. There is one addition that is indispensable to control this active body, or machine, and that is mind.  With that added the whole machinery then works as man. The three when united in full action are able to exhibit the thing desired -- complete.


    The Osteopath seeks first physiological perfection of form, by normally adjusting the osseous frame work, so that all arteries may deliver blood to nourish and construct all parts.  Also that the veins may carry away all impurities dependent upon them for renovation.  Also that the nerves of all classes may be free and unobstructed while applying the powers of life and motion to all divisions, and the whole system of nature's laboratory.

    A full and complete supply of arterial blood must be generated and delivered to all parts, organs and glands, by the channels called the arteries.  And when it has done its work, then without delay the veins must return all to heart and lungs for renewal.  We must know some delay of fluids has been established on which nature begins the work of renewal by increased action of electricity, even to the solvent action of fever heat, by which watery substances evaporate and relieve the lymphatic system of stagnant, watery secretions.  Thus fever is a natural and powerful remedy.


    To find health should be the object of the doctor.  Anyone can find disease.  He should make the grand round among the sentinels and ascertain if they are asleep, dead or have deserted their posts, and have allowed the enemy to get into camps.  He should visit all posts.  Before he goes out to make the rounds, he should know where all posts are, and the value of the supply he has charge of, whether it be shot, shell, grub, clothing, arms or anything of value to the Company or Division.