Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.


  • Introduction to Lectures
  • Honest Criticism Invited
  • Not a Writer of Books
  • Old Remedies and Death
  • To Study Osteopathy
  • Thorough Knowledge of Anatomy Essential
  • Woes of a Bald-Headed Doctor
  • The World on Trial
  • Judge of the Living and the Dead
  • The Trial Proceeds
  • For Twenty Thousand Years
  • Struggles of Nations
  • Soldier Under the New Flag
    IN approaching a discussion of this method of healing diseases, which, for distinction, I have named "Osteopathy," I will not ask the public to be mild in their criticisms of this, my first effort as an author.  I only ask of the reader to read what I have written.  Go where I send you; think where I ask you to think; mark the faulty and hold to the good.  This is written for future generations, not merely the present.  The men and women unborn will be the jurors.  The verdict to be given by the wisdom of time has much to do with my consenting, at this date of life, to take up the role of author.  I hope all who may read after my pen will see that I am fully convinced that God, or the mind of nature, has proven His ability to plan (if plans be necessary) and to make or furnish laws of self, without patterns, for the myriads of forms of animated beings; and to thoroughly equip them for the duties of life, with their engines and batteries of motor force all in action.  Each part is fully armed for duty, empowered to select and appropriate to itself from the great laboratory of nature such forces as are needed to enable it to discharge the duties peculiar to its office in the economy of life.  In short, that the all-knowing Architect has cut and numbered each part to fit its place and discharge its duties in all buildings on animal forms while the suns, stars. moons, and comets all obey the one eternal law of life and motion.  With these truths in mind I will begin my discussions and lectures.  I do not think I was born and sent to your planet a "book writer," but it is perhaps better that I leave small legacy than none at all.

    Ever since time found place for the human race, the love of life, of self and kind has caused that grand being containing Mind, Matter, and Motion, and given in form, "and endowed with the attributes of God," which wants to live on and on forever.  It has been the labor of all minds, of all nations, tongues, and races, to successfully solve the problem of ease-getting and life-lengthening.  For this purpose explorers have fathomed the oceans, dissolved the mountains, used the living and dead of the animal, mineral, and vegetable kingdoms to find that substance which would hold life in friendly relation with visible matters, that we might live to love our loved ones; and that their forms might never fade to eternal distances beyond the power of all Vision,
and dwell forever in the too-far-away.

    Until the birth of Osteopathy, in all combats between the known remedies and disease, death has never lost a single victory when met by the wisest generals of drugs.  Not a known victory for drugs stands upon record today, without doubt or debate.  The generals of medicine have fought valiantly, but all stack arms to the black flag, that uses man's ignorance as its best ammunition.  Our M.D.'s are good men.  They have fought like brave soldiers, worthy of the best steel, and should be upon the pension-rolls, with a large allowance from the congress of love for the great wounds of body and mind which they have received in endeavoring to defend the merits of their claims.  None but the least grateful would object to all M.D.'s having a pension for wounds received in defending their dead generals who lay gashed all over by the vultures of destruction.  In my opinion, they are totally disabled from doing any kind of manual labor, and should receive full $72 per month. Just listen to them tell of the plucky fights they have sustained against such great odds.  They say: "We are not whipped, but overpowered, and will fight the same enemy again at every turn with the same old war-clubs."

    The reader may think our introduction to these essays or talks rather long, but it has been many thousand years coming and naturally must be lengthy.

    At first thought a treatise on disease by a "crank" does not come to the stranger with much solemnity, but as persecuted truth catches the eye of reason, a smile appears upon the face of the cool-minded thinker, who wisely asks:

    "May I have a chance to investigate?" All philosophers are pleased to have such persons come, for they so seldom appear that they never become burdensome to the thinker, but are angels' food to the mind, and found where it was least expected.

    I am only able to give you an experience of less than a half-century in this science.  I have explored by reading and inquiry all that has been written on kindred subjects, hoping to get something on this great law written by the ancient philosophers, but came back as empty as I started.  Quite a number of years have passed since I began to test the laws of nature's God as a system of true hearing principles that would give nature a chance to recapture the ports of health.  Success followed my efforts in such quick succession that I was surprised to find God at His post at all times and places.  His pellets of life are always full and never fail, giving more health in less time than the most exalted ideal of the most sanguine lover of nature and nature's ability to repair any and all parts of the machinery of life could hope for.  Having proven to my mind that God goes into the minutiae of all His works, I felt it a privilege if not a duty to at least make an effort to bring this science to the front as much as I can in my day, and as I understand it at the present time.

    Age after age has passed, and if this science was ever known, the historians have failed to record any part of it for the use of their successors.  I feel it is a debt I owe to the nineteenth century to at least begin to fill that blank by the truths of Osteopathy which have been before all centuries of the past, asking:

    "And shall I travel the lonely road of another eternity, and not be noticed by man?"

    As we get our knowledge by littles, we should be willing to impart by the same measure.  As the reader enters the perusal of this introduction, he must not think for a moment that he will be a skillful Osteopath when he has finished reading its pages, or that be will learn anything about the inner workings of Osteopathy.  I am not writing for that purpose, but offer this as an historical wedge.

    To be qualified for a profession you must have a complete training by persons who understand the science thoroughly, and know how to teach it. Like the qualified diplomats of any trade or profession, an Osteopath is not made in a day or a single year.  Simply standing by and seeing work done by a competent operator will not qualify you to take the responsibilities of life in your bands.  You must be thoroughly acquainted with all that is meant by anatomy -- not merely familiar with the names of a few bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and arteries, but you must know them all as found in the latest standard authors.  You should be familiar with at least ninety per cent of all the human body before you enter our clinics. There you are taught the use of all of the parts and principles you have recited while in the tiresome yet entertaining books of anatomy, dissection, and physiology, during the anxious months of the schoolroom.  Now you are found worthy to enter the training rooms as an apprentice.  Once in the operating rooms, you are in a place where printed books are known no more forever.  Your own native ability, with nature's book, are all that command respect in this field of labor.  Here you lay aside the long words, and use your mind in deep and silent earnestess; drink deep from the eternal fountain of reason, penetrate the forests of that law whose beauties are life and death.  To know all of a bone in its entirety would close both ends of an eternity.

    Solemnity takes possession of the Mind, a smile of love runs over the face, the ebbs and tides of the great ocean of reason, whose depths have never been fathomed, swell to your surging brain.  You eat and drink; and as you stand in silent amazement, suns appear where you never saw a star, brilliant with the rays of God's wisdom, as displayed in man, and the laws of life, eternal in days, and as true as the mind of God Himself.

    Our theologians are usually much better to God than to themselves.  The trees of the forest of God stand loaded, branches bending with ripe fruit, and fat squirrels of reason in all their limbs, and the tables of nature all set for the philosopher or fool to eat.  But they heed not the barking of the dogs that look up the trees and bark with eyes, ears, mouth, and tail, to attract the attention of their masters.  If a man would be better to himself and get more anatomy, be would enjoy more useful knowledge, and God would be as well off and more reverenced.

    If this torments you, then you will be in torment, because Osteopathy has come to stay without limit of time.  It has spoken to me of the human mind as it found it.  The report reads:

    We have to report, most excellent master, that we have found very much dyspepsia of the head.  It has found the great masses in a very bad condition; their mental stomachs are eaten full of holes; livers beaten black and blue with the rawhides of habit, the most astounding ignorance, and the unpardonable stupidity of all ages.  Osteopathy gave a trial on six heads, whose digestion was in very bad condition.  After a few Osteopathic treatments all appeared to do well, until we turned out a few drops of reason of one-thousandth dilution.  We carefully noted the effect.  One was a bald-headed M.D., and in a week his hair was three inches long and still growing.  When we gave him a hand-glass to look at himself, he went into convulsions.  After they had partially subsided he began to talk like a maniac.

    "My God! my God! why forsakest Thou me?  Just see what them fellers have done to my head.  Got my hair three inches long, and my wife itching to pull it all out again.  Lord!  Lord!  I want to keep as far away from Osteopathy as I can, for they make hair grow, and I will have it pulled.  And they stop fevers of all kinds, bowel troubles, deliver babies, cure fits, lungs, heart, and all nervous diseases without a pain or drug.  How do they do all this work without drugs?" asked the new-haired M.D. in a suppressed rage.

    And we gave him another small teaspoonful of the one ten-thousandth dilution of reason, and waited to see its action.  In five minutes he was cold all over, and raising his hand to his head, said:

    "Write my will quick, I cannot stand that last teaspoonful!  My poor head will burst!"

    He would not wait for his wife to pull out his hair as in the past, but pulled it out by his own hands, drove a tack in the parietal foramen, and stopped the hair again forever.  He is well now, and has no more sense than his school had five hundred years ago.

    The words, "no more sense than his school had five hundred years ago," ran through my brain until it seemed I was asleep in body, and action all stopped for a long period.  I began to think the day of judgment had come.  Men came and formed into lines, single file by legions, some of this and all other centuries, representing a period of twenty thousand years.  All had come to be judged, the living and the dead, and the recording secretary opened his great book of many centuries, and said:

    "I am instructed to examine this best of men, who have been the champions of all combats that have for twenty thousand years raged between disease and health.  Every victory of both sides must be recorded, and a crown will be awarded to each and every man who has under his arm the captured flag of the opposing enemy."

    At this time the adjutant called aloud that an inspection was ordered, and all arms and ammunitions would be inspected.  All guns that shot backward as hard as forward would be rejected, and the general who used them would be court-martialled, and, if found guilty, would have his shoulder-straps and buttons cut off, and be sent to the asylum for mental repairs.

    At this time a great burly, red-faced doctor stood at the bead of the antediluvian division and was called first.  The Judge Advocate said:

    "State if you know how you treated bilious fever before the Flood?"

    "Well, Judge, I gave copious sweats, drastic purgatives of jollipum, aloes, and tooth-powders!"

    "Stop, sir," said the Judge.  "What do you mean by tooth-powders?"

    "Your Honor, I mean calomel, which loosens the teeth nicely.  We gave that, sir, so they could not eat for a few days, sir.  We believed that fever was caused by an engorgement of the stomach, so we gave them such sore mouths that they could not eat, sir."

    "What school do you belong to?" asked the Judge.                     I

    "The Regulars, sir!" answered the doctor with great pride and emphasis; and the Judge, who could restrain himself no longer, said:

    "Regular fools! that is what you are.  Don't you know the effects of mercury are to destroy the power of the system to produce bone and teeth, and with both diseased you can never have a healthy constitution?  In short, you are advocating a system that is unnatural and destructive to life, and the world would be better off without

    And the Judge opened the doctor's packages, jars, and bottles, and found they contained the deadly poisons of all ages, which the doctor said had an honorable place among the Regulars.  He asked the doctor by what authority be gave the most deadly poisons as a remedy for disease.  The doctor said:

    "Your Honor, tradition is the day-star of our profession."

    The Judge smiled and said: "Bugler, blow the call for the major-general of the next century."

    At the call a very fine steed and coach with baggage-wagon and servants formed into line for inspection.  The general of drugs gave the salute of his day to the Judge, and said:

    "Most excellent Inspector, according to your instruction, I am proud to form my men in line for your inspection."

    The Judge then turned to the inspector.  "Examine his arms and ammunition, and see if he has made any improvement on the preceding centuries in subduing diseases."

    The inspector saluted and stepped forward.

    "What school do you represent, doctor?" be asked.

    "Your Honor, the 'Regulars,' the sons of legalized tradition."

    "How do you treat bilious fever?"

    "Well, sir, we give emetics and purgatives."

    "What medicines do you depend on in the first stage?"

    "After puking, we use our tooth-powders."

    "What do you mean by tooth-powders?"

    "Your Honor, that is calomel."

    "What is the cause of bilious fever, doctor."

    "Well, tradition has taught us it is the engorgement of the stomach."

    "Why does your school use calomel?"

    "Because by making the teeth and mouth very sore, the patient cannot overload the stomach."

    "Adjutant, compare these two centuries, and note the progress, if any," says the Judge.  Adjutant salutes, and reports to the Judge:
    "No progress whatever, Judge; the first and second centuries are just the same."

    By this time the Judge grows indignant, and tells his bugler to call the eighteenth century.

    With all their legalized pomp they lined up for inspection, and the Judge said in a short, quick, and commanding voice: "Doctor, what school do you represent?"

    "Well, Judge, I am an allopath of the Regular school.  I graduated in the Eclectic, Thompsonian, and Homoeopathic schools, also in Orificial Surgery."

    "What is the cause and cure of bilious fevers?"

    "Well, by tradition we are educated to believe the cause of bilious fever is engorgement of the stomach.  However, we believe the vermi-form appendix has much to do with the metastasis in the diathesis, which often forms fibroid tumors."

    "Stop that stuff!" said the Judge, "or I will have you put on bread and water for ninety days for contempt at court.  Who wants to bear that lingo of words?  I want you to tell me how many victories can you show on the side of 'Remedies versus Disease.' You will be held strictly to victories; not suppose-so's and perhaps's, but such cases as you have known and cured by any method.  You may give ten cases drugged, and ten not drugged; all about the same age, sex, and all having the same kind of disease, of the same seasons of the year, with the same care.  This court demands truth and will have it.  The penalty for false statement is twenty-one years, buck-saw, and whip each seven P.M. that you have not sawed one cord of wood twice in two."

    At this period the doctor said: "Will your Honor please give me until the May term of court to put in my answer?"

    The Judge asked the M.D. of many diplomas why he wanted more time, and the doctor said:

    "Because he was intending to take a full course of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Mo.," and the Judge smiled and said:

    "Go on, old man, but I will be more rigid on you in May than now."

    "Why so?" asked the doctor.

    "Because Osteopathy is a true science and will solve many problems of which an M.D. has no conception."

    "Well, Judge, " said the doctor in a very plaintive voice, "won't you be so good as not to call me in May, and allow me to be tried two years hence?"

    "Yes," replied the Judge, "but you had better get your bucksaw, for if you fail you cannot bury that with your other failures."

    The Judge dismissed the M.D. for two years with heavy bonds to appear.  And the doctor was so thankful he got into his fine chariot, servants and all, and pulled for a School of Osteopathy.

    The judge ordered the adjutant to have the bugler call three Osteopaths before him.  At the first sound of the bugle three were present.

    The Judge said: "Gents and lady, be sworn."

    First doctor was called to the stand.

    "Your age?"

    "Thirty years."

    "What school are you from?"

    "The American School of Osteopathy."

    "What is the cause and cure of bilious fever?"

    "We find the cause of bilious fever to be, that arterial action has been increased by heat to such velocity that veins cannot return blood.  Contract veins, and stop the equality of exchange between veins and arteries."

    "What is fever, doctor?"

    "It is that temperature above normal, caused by an increased action of electricity -- the heart being the engine, and the brain the dynamo, and the nerves the dispensers of electricity.  The cure for all fevers is natural.  Subdue the motor in motion and the sensory in sensation, then hands off until nature makes its ample rounds, and construction takes the place of destructions and health is the result."

    I awoke at this period, took a drink of water, a breath of fresh air, and all things were natural again.  I began to feel cool, and that is all I know about it until I was in the dreamy state a second time, and I beard the words:

    "Attention, worlds!  Into line, ye diplomats of Osteopathy!  A great and serious battle has been raging for twenty thousand years between disease and health, fought valiantly with all implements they could bring to bear upon the enemy -- sickness and death.  They never went into an engagement and come out victorious, but universally lost their men and all their flags.  Their crippled and badly wounded are now in the ambulances and sent to the rear, and you are ordered front, and into line immediately.  Attack the enemy right, left, and center.  His implements of war are Gatlings, as we would term them now all loaded with flux, fevers, climatic, lung, and brain diseases; and in fact about ten thousand kinds of compositions are in their cartridges of death." To the commanding generals he said:

    "Your order is to charge all batteries, forts, gunboats, magazines, and every thing and method that this undaunted enemy has brought to bear upon the human race for its destruction.  You are ordered to heed not fire, water, nor the rumors of death, but to charge into the very center, with drawn sabres, fixed bayonets, and rout the old enemy with the bright steel of reason, forged by the Infinite Himself, and placed in your hands for the defense of you and yours."

    The bugle sounded -- the charge and the fight began.  It raged hot and heavy; blood was spilt from the enemy and ran like rivers.  General after general made his charge through the enemy, hot and cold, pained or painless; and disease and death raged, and in a thunderous voice cried:

    "We are conquered, and will be conquered by the science which is the outgrowth of the mind of the God of all victories.  We must study the tactics of Osteopathy or we will lose from now on battle after battle, for this new enemy uses no antediluvian tactics."

    And I saw battle after battle, and the enemy was forced to the wall, yielded his flag; and said:

    "They are the champions of natural law, and we must surrender.  They have said babies must live to die when worn out by old age, and they will make their words good, is we have no ammunition by which to meet them." And I awoke and saw the diplomats of Osteopathy coming home with the scalps of Fits, Measles, Whooping-cough, and many hundreds of other scalps, from all parts of the globe, as trophies to the ammunition and generalship of those who are satisfied to trust the divine weapons at all times and in all engagements between sickness and health.

    The lectures and essays of which this is the introduction were framed many thousand years ago.  I found a leaf forty years ago in Kansas, and tried to read it, but could not.  The hand-writing was very plain and the language good, but I was suffering with the mumps of ignorance -- fever was very high, and throat badly swelled on both sides.  I could not swallow even a morsel from the great table that set in the center of the University of Deity, covered all over with fruits, each one equal to the finest gem could not enjoy them, for I was unable to swallow a solution of the greatest dilution.  I was not trained to reason beyond the ropes of stale custom -- the greatest hindrance of all ages.  But our nation made a move to cut the chains from its slaves, which gave a greater range to thought and speech.  Previous to that time it was not a man's privilege to write and speak his opinion upon all subjects as it has been since our war closed.  Thirty years of liberty have shown its benefits to the whole world.  All professions have advanced more or less.  Our schools have unfurled their flag at the head of the column of progress.  Our theologians are broader and more tolerant.  Inventive genius has revolutionized our industrial and commercial systems.  Our navigation of the seas and land by steam and electricity are far beyond the dream of a Clay, Morse, Fulton, Howe, or even Lincoln, when be laid down the pen that wrote the words, "Forever free, without regard to race or color." Since the hour freedom was proclaimed, man has moved at the rate of the swiftest comets, and all nature seems more in harmony with his advancement and comfort.

    A treatise generally aims to teach the reader the rules by which an experienced operator can obtain certain results in the skillful application of a scientific principle.  Osteopathy cannot be imparted by books.  Neither can it be taught to a person intelligently who does not fully understand anatomy from books and dissection.

    One who does not know this preparatory branch is completely lost in our operating-rooms.  He does not act from reason, because be does not know enough of anatomy to reason from.  Therefore a treatise attempting to tell people how to treat diseases by our methods would be worse than useless to every person who has not been carefully drilled in our clinics.  It is the philosophy of Osteopathy that the operator needs; therefore it is indispensable that you know all, or you will fail badly and get no further than the quackery of "hit and miss."

    We have a college for teaching and training in all the branches of Osteopathy.

    The science of Osteopathy, as it stands before the world today, is twenty-one years old.  These lectures will have much to say of its eventful life and journey to the place it now stands-defiant, offensive, and defensive, for Osteopathy has had to take both positions.  It could not come to the place due it and offend no one.  Old and established theories and professions claim the right to say who shall live or die, and have claimed this prerogative so long that they feel offended at the birth of any new child of progress that comes upon the stage to ask a hearing without their permission.  Then to defend would be inseparable from the growth of science, as merit is above all tribunals except God Himself.

    Is a woman bound by any law to never get a new dress for fear of offending the old?  If the dress has to wade through blood, I would say, Have it come, and let the old one growl.  I say let the now one come, and if the old one has no merit above the new, just let it be quiet.  It is not always that the old chickens are best to eat.

    Suppose Mr. Gatling had gone to General Washington and asked his permission to go to the front with his batteries, and had received for an answer, "No." Then suppose Mr. Gatling had turned loose upon the General and his musty council and wiped the earth with them, saying, "If brain has no right to be respected, what do you think of bullets by the swarm?"

    We are not enrolled under the banner of a theologian.  We are traveling over the plains and mountains as an explorer, and will report only the truth, and never that until we find the fact standing right behind the truth as its indorser.

    As an explorer we are now ready to report that much of richest bottom-land which is capable of the highest cultivation now stands open, while vast extended plains lie spread out before us, without even the tent of the squatter sovereign to be seen.

    This vast country has not yet been surveyed.  No corner-stones are set, the range-lines have not been ruin, and there is no land office opened; but upon this boundless plain we raise and throw to the breezes the banner of Osteopathy.

    In close range, and directly in view of the most ordinary field-glass, stands the mountain of Reason, from which is rolling down in our presence the greatest nuggets of gold that the human mind ever saw coming down as from the very bosom of God Himself.  All this fertility we believe is intended for the human race and benefit of man.  With the power of production found in this soil, with the beauteous scenery and the mountain heights, in every stone you will find the exactness with which the Divine mind constructs.

    I see nations climbing up and falling, and rising up and climbing again, to attain that height which would enable them to have a glimpse or an intimate acquaintance with that superstructure that stands upon the highest pinnacle which has been explored to a limited extent only.  That superstructure is the master-work of God Himself, and its name is Man.  Ten thousand rooms of this temple have never been explored by any human intelligence; neither can it be without a perfect knowledge of anatomy and an acquaintance of the machinery of life.

    Under this banner we have enlisted.  Under it we expect to march, and go into a fight that will cover more territory than was covered by Alexander, Napoleon, Grant, Lee, and Blucher; and to conquer by facts a greater enemy than has been heretofore conquered by the world's greatest generals; waging a contest of greater moment to the human race than any effort ever put forth for the establishment of a political, religious, or scientific principle.

    Not like children do we expect to pay attention to the howitzers of vulgarity that are loaded to the very muzzle with the nightmare of habit, legalized ignorance, and stupidity.  We will heed not the belching forth of the many guns trained on our flag, unless they are the best of steel rifles, Gatlings, mortsirs, ironclads, or torpedoes, all loaded or charged with the dynamite of uncompromising truth.  We have no eternity to spend in the useless effort of trying to bring men to the fountain of reason, and force them to drink that which is absolutely unpalatable to them.

    While a man is bound with his habits, and is satisfied with fishing forever without getting a nibble of truth, he can, like Bunyan, bring the four corners of his old sheet together, take up his load, and toddle along.  We will not debate with him if he is satisfied he is not the man we are looking for.

    A word to the soldiers.  This war has been raging hot and heavy for twenty-two years, and not a single soldier from privates to generals has received a wound from the enemy that has drawn one drop of blood or sent a rigor of fear up or down the back or legs.  Their ammunition and greatest guns when fired in our midst have never moved a muscle nor made a widow.  We laugh by note, which is our music, and we desire Congress to give us the full benefits of free trade, as we have more scalps for sale now than any one market is able to purchase.

    Our secretary of war has reported to us that every soldier's wife, and the soldier himself, has more to eat and drink than ever before, even in the physical world, saying nothing of the fountain of love and intelligence that keeps his canteen forever running over.

    In our great army of recruits we want no man or woman whose mind is so small and mental vision so dim that he or she cannot see victory perched on our banner.  Peace and good-will now and forevermore.