Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    As old phrases that have long been in use as names for the various diseases have almost grown to the degree of disgust, I laid them aside and have been trying and have succeeded in unfolding natural laws to a better understanding, which do and should be our guide and action in treating all diseases that mar the peace and happiness of the human race by misery and death.  By such old systems with their foolish and unreliable suggestions, of how to guide the doctor in treating diseases which have proven unworthy of respect, if merit is to be our rule of the weights and measures of intelligence.  I have become so disgusted with such verbiage with the sense that follows the pens that have written treatise on disease, that I have concluded to do like Adam of old, give names that may appear novel to the reader when I wish to draw the attention of the student who is trying to obtain a knowledge of the mysteries hitherto unsolved and unexplained.  We have panned and washed by their suggestions and have obtained no gold.  There are two very large and powerful rivers passing their fluids in opposite directions over a territory that I will call the Klondike of life.  This territory is bounded on the east by a great wall, which according to the old books has been called the diaphragm, through which comes forth a great river of life that spreads all over the plains of the anterior lumbar region.  On that plain we find a great system of perfect irrigation of cities, villages, and fertile soils of life.


    This region of country covers one of the greatest and most fertile fields of life producing elements, and places them on the thoroughfares, and sends them back over the great central railroad, the thoracic duct, from lymphatics of the whole abdomen, to the heart and lungs to be converted into a higher order of living matter.  When finished it is called blood, to sustain its own machinery, and all other machines of the body, giving rise to the mental question: "What would be the effect produced to life and health, if we should cut off, dam up or suspend the flowing of the aorta as it descends close by the vena cava and thoracic duct as they return with contents through the diaphragm on their journey to the heart and lungs for manufacture and finish.  And after having supplied the plain, what would be the effect if the vena cava and its system of drainage, and the thoracic duct should be dammed up so that chyle and blood could not be carried to the heart and lungs for renewal, purification, and finish.  How much thought would be required to see that by stopping the arterial flow or that of the vena cava an irritating and famishing condition would ensue, with congested veins, lymphatics and all organs of the abdomen, to that condition called fermentation, congestion and inflammation, which in time is thrown off by sloughing away the substances of the lymphatics of the whole abdominal system of glands that belong to a liver, a kidney, the uterus and the bowels, to the condition that has long since been a mystery, and called typhoid fever, dysentery, bilious fever, periodical spasms, and on through the whole list of general and special diseases of winter and summer.  I would advise the practicing Osteopath to do some very careful panning up and down the rivers of this Klondike, for if you fail to find gold, and much of it, you had better spend the remainder of your life where reason dwelleth not.  Ever remembering that ignorance of the geography and customs of this country is the wet powder of success.


    We often see a woman or man afflicted with fits or falling sickness which the doctor has failed to cure.  What is a fit?  For want of a better knowledge we have an established theory that "hysteria" is purely her imagination and as we must respect old theories, we will call it a fit of meanness.  This is what we have had for breakfast, dinner and supper and we are asked to respect such trash because of the "established theories."

    We are instructed by the universal "all" of the graduates of various medical schools to call her a criminal and proceed to punish her with a wet towel, well twisted, and administered freely -- more comprehensively expressed by the term "spanker" and "spank her" very much -- late from Scotland with all Europe, and schools in America, except the American School of Osteopathy, which recommends to "wallop" and "wallop" very freely the empty headed schools and theories that have no more sense than to torture a sick person and do so to disguise their ignorance of the cause of her disease, which is shown by the spasmodic effect that has been named by a little book of guess work, generally called and universally known as symptomatology.


    Not a single author has hinted or in any way intimated that the cause of her disease is a failure of the passing of the blood, chyle and other substances to and from the abdomen to nourish and renovate the abdominal viscera caused by a prolapsed diaphragm, which would cause resistance to the passing of the aorta, through which passes the arterial blood through the crura, and the vena cava that returns the venous blood, and through which crura the chyle is conducted from the receptaculum chyli before decomposition by fermentation setsup.


    The afflicted is intoxicated.  Here is where she gets a poisonous alcohol and will never be relieved permanently until the "wet towel" of reason has slapped on both sides of the attending physician's head, so he can hear the squeezing and rattling of regurgitation, and straining and creaking of the fluids in their effort to pass through that great and strong towel called the diaphragm.  Until he learns this I would apply the wet towel of reason to the doctor, for fear he becomes lukewarm in his studies and gives his patient a hypodermic injection of morphine, which is the advice as given at the last council of medical men who practice "old established" theories rather than be honest enough to say: "The woman is sick and I know it, but I do not know the cause of her trouble."


    What is a fit?  If God's judgment is to be respected a fit is the life-saving step and move, perfectly natural, perfectly reasonable, and should be so respected and received as divinely wise, because on that natural action which is produced on the constrictor nerves first, then the muscles, nerves, veins and arteries with all their centers.  It appears at this time that the vital fluids have all been used up, or consumed, by the sensory system, and in order to be temporarily replenished, this convulsion shows its natural use by squeezing vital fluids from all parts of the body to nourish and sustain the sensory, which has been emptied by mental and vital action, until death is inevitable without this convulsing element to supply the sensory system, though it may be but a short time.


    The oftener the fits come, the oftener the nutrient system of the sensory cries aloud in its own, though unmistakable language, that it must have nourishment, that it may run the machinery of life, or it must give up the ghost and die.  In this dire extremity and struggle for life, it has asked the motor system to suspend its action, use its power and squeeze out of any part of the whole body though it be the brain itself, a few drops of cerebro-spinal fluid, or anything higher or lower, so it may live.

    Those of you acquainted with the fertile fields of the Klondike referred to, will be enabled to furnish the sensory system with such nutriment, as will not make it necessary to appeal to you through the language used by the unconscious convulsions with all their horrible contortions.


    Thus you surely see with the microscope of reason that the sensory nerves must be constantly nourished, and that all nutriment for the nerves must be obtained from the abdomen, though its propelling force should come directly from the brain.


    The nerve courses from the brain must be unobstructed from the cerebrum, cerebellum, the medulla oblongata, and on through the whole spinal cord; with a normal neck, a normal back, and normal ribs, which to an Osteopath means careful work, with power to know, and mind to reason that the work is done wisely to a finish.  I hope that with these suggestions you will go on with the investigation to a satisfactory degree of success.


    I wish to insert a short paragraph on a few effects following a down, front, and outer dislocation of the four upper ribs of either side.  We have been familiar with asthma, goitre, pen-paralysis, shaking palsy, spasms, and heart diseases of various kinds.  We have been as familiar with the existence of those abnormal variations as we are of the rising and the setting of the sun.  Our best philosophers on diseases and causes have elaborately written and published their conclusions, and the world has carefully perused with deep interest, what they have said of all the diseases above named, also diseases of the lung, and today we are by them left in total darkness as to the cause of the above named diseases, also fits, insanity, loss of voice, brachial agitans, and many other diseases of the chest, neck and head.  As the field is open and clear for any philosopher to establish his point of observation, note and report what he observes, I will avail myself of this opportunity, and say in a very few words, I have found no one of the diseases above indicated to have an existence without some variation of the first few of the upper ribs of the chest.  With this I will leave farther exploration in the hands of other persons; and await the report of their observations pro and con.