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


  • The Great Vision
  • A Wonderful Procession
  • An Assembly to Benefit the Human Race
  • War
  • Defeat
  • Surrender
  • The Doctors in Council
  • Forceps and Laceration
  • The Spy on Osteopathy
  • A Disturbed Artery and the Result
  • Nature's System of Midwifery
  • Osteopathy Defined
  • Whips of Quinine to Drive out Fever
  • The corpus Callosum
  • Corpuscles
  • The Equipments as Fremont's Surgeon
  • How God Manifests Himself
    FROM early youth I have been visited by the visions of the night, one of which I will proceed to describe as best I can.  My descriptive powers may be too short, my ability to explain by words too limited to communicate to your understanding graphically what I have seen night after night.  It is the most attractive vision that has disturbed my dreams from birth till now.  The house in which this panorama seemed to dwell is as wide as thought, as long as all the ages of the past.  Its seats in numbers were as the sands of the sea.  Its roads were paved to the uttermost parts of the earth, all centering to the one place.  I seemed to be only a silent spectator.  I saw legions of the finest carriages, coaches, cabs, bicycles, horsemen, footmen, and rolling-chairs with their waiters.  And all those vehicles or methods of travel were loaded to fulness with men of all ages of the remembered and great forgotten past.  With glistening knives of all forms, tweezers, tenaculums, blow-pipes, and microscopes of the greatest known powers, they all alighted from their different modes of travel.  They rested, feasted, and slept through the refreshing hours of the night, awoke early the following morning, ate their breakfasts, took their morning exercise, and at the sound of the bugle they all assembled together.

    The chairman, a very dignified, elderly gentleman, arose and stated the object of the meeting.

    We have tried to formulate a scientific method that should live with coming ages, by which we could successfully antagonize the diseases of the earth which prey upon and destroy too great a percent of the human race prematurely.  And I have to say from a conclusion, based upon sworn statements of all ages of all medical schools, that their foundation is wholly unscientific and unsatisfactory from the conclusions based upon the results, as found in all engagements between disease and health.

    "All victories belong to that champion who has no knowledge of defeat, whose name is the Czar of death.  We have brought into requisition brigades, divisions, and nations, and met the enemy in open fields, only to lose our flags and mourn over the loss of our beloved dead." A new idea came over the congregated legions that the victories lost should be attributed to the abortive use of drugs as prescribed and used by all schools.  A resolve passed over the whole congregation that we meet the enemy with "the knives of standard surgery." The battle raged and the wailing over the dead increased.  Lamentations seemed to prevail and hearts sunk.  An armistice was called.  Another general arose with the appearance of greatness, armed himself to the fullness of all he could desire with instruments made for the purpose, and said: "I believe I can meet and conquer disease."

    And the chairman rapped his gavel aloud and said:

    "We must have truth, and demand that truth itself must have facts for its voucher, or it can have no place in the finale of the reports of this assembly, who have the tactics of all generals of renown.  We are sore and tired of the words war, defeat, surrender, and lamentations!  The record to this date has found no victory to chronicle for drugs, and a very limited supply for surgery, and much of that was done more for remuneration than vindication of known truths.  If this body of thinkers wishes to be kind and liberal to all, with but little hope of abating the relentless band of disease, the chair will say, Proceed, doctor, and give us the facts you now think you possess.  Remember, no more experimenting at the probable cost of life will be received by this committee of the world.  They say in the rules adopted to govern this meeting that all theories must and shall be proven to be true or false by the propounder being forced to submit to and be treated by the tenets of his system, which be has, and claims to be truth, before he can be placed on the special roll of this council.  And I give you all notice that this council never will adjourn until a system of cures be adopted, that stand based on the law that is without beginning and eternally the same.

    "All speakers who represent any brotherhood of cures will be patiently listened to by this meeting.  Giving them all the time that is necessary to give history, by notes and observations as to diseased persons they have met, and known to be cured, killed, or permanently injured by their methods. All doctors will be sworn before examination.  Penalty for perjury is one drop of "red capsicum" in one eye at a time, for every lie be tells about the wonderful cure he falsely reports, or the deaths be has caused by his knife or drugs.

    "Proceed, doctor, you have the floor.  Now we want the good and bad of systems and their truths.  We want and will have it, or pepper your eyes till you find and tell the whole truth.  Tell bow your remedies affect the body, bones, teeth, and minds, or we will pepper your eyes to stimulate your brain.  We are told by one of a later date who champions the system of 'Orificial Surgery' that the brain can be acted upon by stimulating the nerve terminals, and his theory must be vindicated or fall, after being fully tested, as given by rule first of the by-laws of this assembly, which puts all assertions to the most crucial tests, known as the fruit-of-the-tree test."

    The judge said: " This meeting will now adjourn for rest and refreshments.  Before you leave I will say I want to have the committee on allopathy to rest four days, and on the fifth assemble.  Each man must arm himself with a fine mental sieve that nothing can penetrate but known facts.  I am sworn by the people who sent me to this council of inquiry to bring, on my return, truths, and not assertions, and know by careful analysis that the truth as rendered to them on our return be chemically pure, and in exact conformity to the known laws of nature, which can only come from the mind of the infinite.  Nothing less will be received.  On our report depends the length of our days, for we are dealing with a jealous and enraged people.  We must be able to report to them in such manner that there will be no doubt left in their minds as to the methods of relief.  I have just read a letter from our home committee, stating eighty births in Chicago, in which the forceps were used in all, and lacerations occurred in forty-three from one to more inches, all of which will have to go under chloroform for surgical operations.  No one knows who or how many will die from the knife and poisonous gas.

    "I tell you the cup of forbearance is about drained, and a furious explosion is bound to come, but this council can do much to ward it off.  We must wake up and act or suffer.

    "A report from our home secretary says he writes for information about a new theory, called 'Osteopathy,' which has delivered near five hundred mothers without a single laceration, forceps, or a drug.  And not a death, no case of labor lasting more than four hours.  I tell you, men and brethren, I have had a spy in camp and on the track of Osteopathy for five years.  It is most wonderfully true, and its successes are now known more or less all over the reading world; and that fact known, augments the danger we are in.

    "At this time it has been legalized in many States, and is a formidable and dangerous system to meet with the weapons of tradition.

    "You and I know we cannot face the truths as we are now armed, and must change, or fall or hang by the neck until we are dead and buried by the side of our condemned system that kills more than it cures."

    In the year 1874 I proclaimed that a disturbed artery marked the beginning to an hour and a minute when disease began to sow its seeds of destruction in the human body.  That in no case could it be done without a broken or suspended current of arterial blood, which by nature was intended to supply and nourish all nerves, ligaments, muscles, skin, bones, and the artery itself.  He who wished to successfully solve the problem of disease or deformities of any kinds in all cases without exception would find one or more obstruction in some artery, or some of its branches.  At an early day this philosophy solved to me the problem of malignant growths and their removal by reproduction of the normal flow of the arterial fluids, which when done transfers the blood to the venous circulation for return and renewal after the process of renovation is completed by the lungs, excretories, and porous system.  Fevers, flux, headaches, heart and lung troubles, measles, mumps, and whooping-cough, and all diseases met and treated since that time, have proven to my mind that there is no exception to this law.  The rule of the artery must be absolute, universal, and unobstructed, or disease will be the result.  I proclaimed then and there that all nerves depended wholly on the arterial system for their qualities, such as sensation, nutrition, and motion, even though by the law of reciprocity they furnished force, nutrition, and sensation to the artery itself, and further proclaimed that the brain of man was God's drug-store and had in it all liquids, drugs, lubricating oils, opiates, acids, and anti-acids, and every quality of drugs that the wisdom of God thought necessary for human happiness and health.

    On this foundation and by its teachings I have unfolded nature's system of midwifery, which would blush and be ashamed of its ignorance for a diplomat of this science to ever be guilty of acknowledging so much stupidity and ignorance of the laws of parturition as to take into the sick chamber of a normally formed woman the brutal forceps of death to the child, torture and laceration to the mother.  When I see all over the land those pitiable objects called mothers ruined for life, I often wonder if that man who has inflicted such torture and left her in a condition to go under the surgeon's knife and deadly "ether" -- a far more dangerous operation with but little hope of benefit -- has the heart of a brute or the intelligence of a human.

    Such are the teachings of the prevailing systems of midwifery all over the civilized world.  Osteopathy says if this be civilization and skill, what would be brutality and ignorance?  I smile when a young Osteopath says: "I have taken up Osteopathy at the point that I found it had stopped in the 'old doctor's hands,' and have made many new discoveries."  I am proud to know that the Rip Van Winkle in him had gotten his sleep out, and found that his old gun had been by his side for twenty years.  He did not learn in school what was for him, which he could have learned bad he not gone off in search of the shining dollar, before he had absorbed the juice of reason that always comes after twelve months' close drill in the philosophy of the arteries.  No discovery is newer than twenty-four years of this science, as shown by any one to date.  Its applications may be more thoroughly understood, but the philosophy is eternally the name.

    It matters little at what point I commence, for the subject of life has no beginning and is equally interesting at all points.  The reader is anxious to learn something of this science which bears a new and unfamiliar name.  He wishes to know if its discoverer is possessed of intelligence and if the science itself has merit.

    You wonder what Osteopathy is; you look in the medical dictionary and find as its definition "bone disease."
That is a grave mistake.  It is compounded of two words, osteon, meaning bone, pathos, pathine, to suffer.  Greek lexicographers say it is a proper name for a science founded on a knowledge of bones.  So instead of "bone disease" it really means "usage."

    The human body is a machine run by the unseen force called life, and that it may be run harmoniously it is necessary that there be liberty of blood, nerves, and arteries from the generating-point to destination.

    Suppose in far-distant California there is a colony of people depending upon your coming in person with a load of produce to keep them from starving.  You load your car with everything necessary to sustain life and start off in the right direction.  So far so good. ]But in case you are side-tracked somewhere, and so long in reaching the desired point, your stock of provisions is spoiled; if complete starvation is not the result, at least your friends will be but poorly nourished.

    So if the supply channels of the body be obstructed, and the life-giving currents do not reach their destination full freighted, then disease sets in.

    What does a doctor do in such a case?  As a darkey would force a disabled mule to carry him by applying the whip, so a doctor of medicine attempts to use the whips of quinine and other stimulants to drive the blood through the body.  By too severe an application of the morphine whip sometimes life is driven into death.

    Under like circumstances an Osteopath would remove the obstruction by application of the unerring laws of his science, and ability for doing the necessary work would follow.  As a horse needs strength instead of the spur to enable him to carry a heavy load, so a man needs the freedom of all parts of the machinery power that comes from the perfection of his body in order to accomplish the highest work of which it is capable.  After the heart receives the blood, it sends it on to the brain, possibly to take on knowledge.

    When you look at a skull you think, " What a large cavity; what a quantity of brains I have!" They say Webster had "almost a half-bushel."

    Of the contents of the skull, one ounce is used for thought, the remainder generates power for nerves.

    God would not be forgetful enough to send the blood to the brain for wisdom and fail to have a supply there.  His intelligence is immeasurable, and there is much evidence that mind is imparted to the corpuscles of the blood before it does its work.

    Every corpuscle goes like a man in the army, with full instructions where to go, and with unerring precision it does its work -- whether it be in the formation of a hair or the throwing of a spot of delicate tinting at certain distances on a peacock's back.

    God does not find it necessary to make one of these spots of beauty at a time; He simply endows the corpuscles with mind, and in obedience to His law each one of these soldiers of life goes like a man in the army with full instructions as to the duty he is to perform.  It travels its beaten line without interfering with the work of others.  Now you say I am going to get God into trouble by making a statement, claiming that each one of the five million corpuscles contained in a single drop of blood knows just what is expected of it.  Is this blasphemy?  No. As the troops of General Cook obey his commands unfalteringly, so God's infantry, imbued by Him with mentality, go forth to fulfill their appointed mission in unswerving obedience.

    You dare not assert that the Deity is inferior in power to a man of His own creation.

    While speaking of the army, let me say that I served as a surgeon under Fremont, and I know what I am talking about when I say that a surgeon's outfit was complete when it contained calomel, quinine, whisky, opium, rags, and knife.  If a patient had one foot in the grave and a half pint of whisky in a bottle, the doctor would work as hard to get the whisky out of the bottle as to keep the foot from the grave.

    Medical men administer old bourbon innocently for the sake of stimulating the stomach, and as a result in the course of time many a man finds himself a drunkard in the ditch.  It is the system that is wrong.  As the child follows the advice of its mother, so the medical student heeds the teaching of his Alma Mater.  From her walls he goes out instructed to give so many drops of a certain liquid to excite the nerves, and so many drops of another liquid to quiet them, and so oil all the way through his path is laid out.

    If after diagnosing, prognosing, and prescribing, the patient goes down, then the wine and whisky are administered to aid in rallying the weakened life forces.

    If a council in the same school is called, his course is commended.  In just this manner the love of strong drink is instilled in many a man, and I tell you if our national curse of drunkenness continues for a period of five hundred years, God will have to send people in a balloon to repopulate the earth, which will have degenerated under the influence of whisky from a world of beauty to a bald knob.

    My father was a progressive farmer, and was always ready to lay aside an old plow if be could replace it with one better constructed for its work.  All through life I have ever been ready to buy a better plow.  So when I found a way out of the big drunk of ignorance and superstition into which we were born, the belief that God was a poor mechanic and needed the help of medicine, then I was ready to walk in the more enlightened path.  I fully realize how tough the old ways were, when I remember how they used to hold my nose and spank me to get down a dose of castor oil.  Then they would ask God to bless the means used for my recovery, and I suppose this petition included both dose and blister.

    Osteopathy does not look on a man as a criminal before God to be puked, purged, and made sick and crazy.  It is a science that analyzes man and finds that be partakes of Divine intelligence.  It acquaints itself with all his attributes; and if the student of it does his work well, and goes out with his brain full of its teachings, instead of his pockets full of cardamom-seed, he will find by results that its principle is unerring.

    God manifests Himself in matter, motion, and mind.  Study well His manifestations.