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


  • A Demand for a Revolution
  • A Plea for an Advance in Osteopathy
  • Object of Osteopathy
  • How to Irrigate
  • Death Defined
  • How Pain is Created
  • The Building of the Thigh-Bone
  • The Solvent Powers of Life
  • The Destruction of Pain
  • The Object of Moving Bones and Muscles
    AN absolute demand for revolution is before us at this day and time, for there is a demand for a progressive step in the line of treating disease.  We have been satisfied by the results obtained, and became strictly dominated by form each day, repeating what we have done.  Our hands are far ahead of the position that should be regulated by thought.

    For a number of days I have been haunted by the feeling that we are in danger of getting in a rut unworthy of higher consideration than should fall to mere imitation.  Let us not be governed today by what we did yesterday, nor tomorrow by what we do today, for day by day we must show progress.  In early days we made hundreds of moves of muscles and parts of the system.  Some we cured and some we did not. Which did the good and which the harm, we could not tell; still we allowed ourselves to be proud of the great percent of cures that we obtained under this system of hit-and-miss.

    At the head of our column we carry a flag of progress, and should honor it with greater results by better applications of the principles of Osteopathy.  We must avoid the dust of habit.  We must so adjust our telescopes that we may set our compass to run to stars of greater magnitude, that shine from the breast of the exacting Infinite.  He Himself cannot succeed without a close observance of the laws of success, which are uncompromising and absolute.  If so, we should never move a bone, muscle, ligament, or nerve with a view of hearing the afflicted, but move at such time and place as uncompromising demands order and enforce.  To make the sick well is no duty of the operator, but to adjust a part or whole of the system that the rivers of life may flow in and irrigate the famishing fields.  We should stop and consider at the point of irrigation how often the mains should be opened to supply the ditches, how long the sun of life should shine upon that crop, to do its duties of nourishing and vitalizing them according to individual demands.  I have said to heal the sick is a duty that belongs to another division of Operators, and not to hewers of timber, nor muscles of force, but to the rivers of life only.  To irrigate too much is as detrimental as too little or not at all.  How much? is the all-important question to solve.  The kind and quantity must be supplied at the right time and place only.  If this fluid be in the brain, open the rivers and they will expel all driftwood and unkindly substances, and proceed at once to the duties of their division, which is life with all its harmony.  That division is law and life itself.

    Cause and effect are perpetual.  Cause may not be as large in the beginning in some cases as others, but time adds to the effect until the effect overbalances cause, and the end is death.  Death is the completed work of development of the sum total of effect to a finished work of nature.

    I only ask of the reader to carefully note the different and continued change in effect as additional elements enter the contest and give effect the ascendancy.

    Two or more elements added may cause pain.  One may be acid; add fibrin and you may get adhesion; add sugar, and you may have gall and ease in place of pain, simply by the vital or gall principles found at the origin of the gall-producing nerves in the brain.  Therefore when we are suffering from the effect of delays in cardiac nerves to forward blood in sufficient quantities to supply cervix, we have as cause of such pain simply too feeble motion to start blood to an action of its latent vitality. Thus you have quantity and quality minus motion to the degree of heat by which magnetism can begin the work of vital repairs, or association of the principles of the crude elements of nature, and construct a suitable superstructure in which life can only dwell.

    When perfect harmony is not found in forms and function, then we lack speed in the magnetic motion, and get by such inaction an electric action which only enters to conduct the actions of compounding the elements of active destruction by electricity as generated by the motor nerves of death.  In this you have death by electricity with all its active powers, self armed from the laboratory of nature, which is both the action of life by magnetism and death by the eternal motor power of all worlds and atoms.

    As we are not willing to attribute to Deity anything but perfection, and would be highly offended at any one who would even hint at such ideas, we must see that our acts are in line with our words.  Not only in a general phraseology that His works prove His perfection, but we must see and know that His work of animal is partly a failure before we are justified in our conclusion to assist His man to subdue even a fever by the use of a drug of any kind.

    We should be very careful not to allow our actions to place us on the disk of the brilliant sun of indisputable contradiction.  Contradictions in man are bad enough, and occasionally we prove some cross lines in his stories by his acts and deeds.  Who could, even if be should try, prove a trace of failure or neglect in the completeness of the work of God, in any part of that masterpiece of architecture, man, when finished by His band in His own likeness and image, and by Himself pronounced very good?  Is He a judge?  What is His opinion worth?  Would He call an incomplete job even good, or be so deceptive as to say very good, and know it was not truth?  Does not a man of reason see be must find failure in the machinery of man before be is justified to give suggestions of amendments to the works to the Architect who designed the machine and set it in running order?

    I have something to tell you of the wonderful process of building which mentally I have seen going on.  Now, do not credit me with too much excitement or weakness of mind, 0 ye philosophers, astronomers, divines, teachers, and law-makers! but follow me for a few minutes while I draw your minds out to such extent that you can both see and hear the remarkable work I am to report.

    The commander of my store of wisdom has for once called a halt, as I view one of the most mysterious and beautiful sights of my life -- the working of the Grand Architect and His subordinates on a bone -- human in kind, a femur by name.

    Draw your mental microscope, raise it to its greatest power as you read the specifications for this unique building.  Now the order is given by the Commanding General to His subordinates.

    "Attention! officers, infantry, and cavalry!" Fall into line, ye workmen, and proceed to execute with mathematical precision every block and every stringer, uniting with minute exactness.  Let your work be correct, faultless, for the specifications require a construction so carefully done that though the Infinite Mind became for a time a sub-committeeman to examine your work, it would be found that you have fulfilled the requirements of the specification demanding the building of a thigh-bone, perfect in all its material and mental parts.

    Ever remember that the word "perfect" means no more and no less than the fiat of God that His work has been concluded with absolute exactness.

    Behold with me the division commanders, each in place, bearing the insignia of his rank; the Commanding General speaks positively to the ordnance department: "Fill and keep the magazine of force and motion supplied with that which is chemically
pure and needful to the building up of this wonderful structure, which is only part of the superstructure commonly called man."

    All orders are given in silence and obeyed without a murmur.

    Every subordinate comes with that which is necessary for construction, and the masons (corpuscles) of this work go forth with pleasure to execute the design of their superior, knowing their work will be carefully examined and their lives will pay the forfeit in case of failure to fulfill all requirements.

    The Commanding General says to each subordinate: "Carry your burden and deposit it in workman-like style."  The well-trained army proceeds with the atoms as selected by the Divine inspector, and no more care is expended in the selection than is expected to be shown in depositing them in and on the wall according to the place by previous instruction.

    The order has gone forth, each workman obeys the command; thousands upon thousands, millions and millions bear and obey this fiat:

    "Go and labor day and night, night and day, until this part is completed, inspected, and received."

    A part of the constructing force is engaged in repairing all waste and losses that occur during the years of mortal life.  Nor do they forget the command of cleanliness, which is the reverse of construction to carry away all worn-out fragments of this wonderful part of the machine.  While they are adjusting it to its natural place in the bone, other divisions and commands are fulfilling the order of a like femur to be its help-mate.

    Being now held in place to the body and accepted as finished, they wait with anxiety another higher order.  Arise, move, and forever house and care for the great indweller, the spirit of man, the essence and secret of God and the unsolved problem of eternity.

[graphic 250: "BUST OF A. T. STILL."]

    The solvent powers of life dissolve all fluids and solids from blood to bone.  The powers of lymph are not known.  A quantity of blood may be thrown from a ruptured vein or artery and form a large tumefaction of the parts, causing a temporary suspension of the vital forces there-unto belonging.  Without a previous provision to remove this accumulation, nature will be forced to come to a halt and behold the ruins.  By reason we arrive at the conclusion that the duties of nature are perpetual labor through the vast cycles of eternity, conducted by the skillful plans of that principle of mind commonly known as God, which has the power to transpose and transform all substances, uniting them in such proportions and endowing them with such qualities and additions as will make perfect work.

    To dissolve bones by the sole penetrating force or action of an acid, with equally compounded forces commonly known as alkalies, proceed to the duties of dissolving albuminous and fibrinous substances.

    On this foundation we are warranted to conclude that nature at will can and does produce their solvents which may be necessary to melt down deposits of fiber, bone, or any fluid or solid found in the human body.  If we grant this law we must acknowledge an infinite and perfect power to plan and execute its designs, compounding and creating any and all kinds of chemical substances to dissolve to the lowest order of fluids, which approach very closely the gaseous conditions of solids, previous to applying the renovating forces which must come in due time and carry away all dead, useless, and obstructing deposits, previous to inviting the corpuscles of construction to take possession.

    Direct and reconstruct blood-vessels, nerves, muscles, membranes, ligaments, skin, and bone with all their forms, that life may have peaceful and harmonious possession, and enter anew the field of action and proceed to execute its work without the interference of the inharmonies just disposed of.  Anxious nature stands fully armed and equipped, and more than willing to execute all duties devolving upon her, knowing at the same time that obedience to those exacting laws is all that is known or accredited to them as success.

    The least rebellious or unwilling servant may be the beginning of the downfall of the whole army.

    Let your eyes be a microscope of the greatest known power.  Let your mind penetrate to the remotest period of thought by the telescope of reason.  See the busy mind of God rejoicing at the beautiful work of his machinery, cutting and designing forms for fowls of the air and fish of the sea.  Thus we are admonished to allow no opportunity to pass by of remembering the great injuction, "Despise not the day of small things." I am -- I was without beginning of days or end of time -- eternally the same law.  My greatest stones from foundation to dome are atoms in all superstructures wherein life prevails.  Animals, fish, and fowls, angels and worlds, are atoms of which you are composed.  They are the associated millions which complete worlds of the greatest magnitude, without which the eye that beholdeth the same could not behold their beauties.  Therefore be kind in thought to the atoms of life, or in death you will be borne to the grave by the beasts of burden who carry nothing to the tombs but the bodies of heedless stupidity, the mourners being the asses who cry and bray over the loss of their dear brother.

    What is the object of moving bones, muscles, and ligaments, which are suspending the powers of the nerves and so on?  A very common answer is, to loosen up all spaces through which nerves, veins, and arteries convey elements of life and motion. If that be your answer, then you have fallen far short of an answer that is based on a knowledge of the basic principles of life in beings, its methods of preparing to repair some part, organ, limb, or the whole system.  If an over-accumulation should appear and obstruct the process of life to annoy the normal harmony to such measure as to produce unrest or disease, would you or I be satisfied to know we bad simply given the sufferer a good shaking up, had pulled the arms and legs, feet, hands, back, thumbs, and fingers, taken a cob or a rougb hand and kneaded the chest, limbs, and abdomen, as we have done and do so many times a day or week?  No, we would renovate first by lymph, giving it time to do its work of atomizing all crudities first.  Then we can expect to see the effect of growing processes as a natural result.  Let us reason with a faith that nature does know how to get blood away from the blackened eyes of the pugilist.  The blood is spilt from broken veins in spaces around.  It is out of veins and arteries both.  Now, if you notice, nature throws in lymph and other fluids; you soon see blood change from a black clot to a fluid condition, and grow thinner each day until all has disappeared, and the face and skin go back to their normal condition and appearance.  If you can and do reason, you must know that nature has a solvent of all pluses that appear as lumps or thickened places on muscles, skin, or glands.  The same law in stiff joints and the deposits around muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Then we change a position of a bone muscle or ligament to give freedom of fluids with the purpose, first, to dissolve and carry away all detained matter and hindering substances, that nature can build anew the depleted surroundings.  Beginning with lymph and finishing with fibrin and albumin, nature prepares and bridges each step, and never fails to show success at the end of each effort.  We must know, if we would succeed as healers, that normal does not simply mean to place bones in a normal position, that muscles and ligaments may play in their allotted places and can act with freedom at all times.  But beyond all this lies a still greater question to solve, which is how and when to apply the chemicals of life as nature designs they shall be.  If life be aided in the process of renovating all hindrances to health, just what power to apply to call forth lymph, fibrin, albumin, uric acid, muriatic, or any fluid from the great chemical laboratory of man's machinery, that has within itself all qualities, and never fails to have some in the grand show-up, when wisely called on to do so from the outer skin to the center of the great all of man and life in all nature.