Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
AT the present time more than at any other period since
the birth of Christ, the medical and surgical world have centralized their
minds for the purpose of relieving locally inside, below the kidney of
the male or female, excruciating pain, which appears in both sexes in the
region above described.
The Vermiform Appendix
Operating for Appendicitis
Expelling Power of the Vermiform Appendix
Care Exercised in Making Assertions
The Human Machinery
Which Best, God's Machine or Man's?
The Astronomer and New Worlds
The Knife of Wisdom
The Law of Affinity
The Heart of Man and the Trunk of a Tree
The Heart is King of All
From some cause possibly justifiable, it has been
decided to open the human body and explore the region just below the right
kidney in search of the cause of this trouble. Such explorations
have been made upon the dead first. Small seeds and other substances
have been found in the, vermiform appendix, which is a hollow tube over
an inch in length. These discoveries, as found in the dead subject,
have led to explorations in the same location in the living. In some
of the cases, though very few, seeds and other substances have been found
in the vermi-form appendix, supposed to be the cause of local or general
inflammation of the appendix. Some have been successfully removed,
and permanent relief followed the operation. These explorations and
successes in finding substances in the vermiform appendix, their removal,
and successful recovery in some cases, have led to what may properly be
termed a hasty system of diagnosis, and it has become very prevalent, and
resorted to by the physicians of many schools, under the impression that
the vermiform appendix is of no known use, and that the human being is
just as well off without it.
Therefore it is resolved, that, as nothing positive
is known of the trouble in the location above described, it is guessed
that it is a disease of the vermiform appendix. Therefore they etherize
and dissect down for the purpose of exploring, to ascertain if the guess
is right or wrong. In the diagnosis this is a well-defined case of
appendicitis; the surgeon's knife is driven through the quivering flesh
with great eagerness in search of the vermiform appendix. The bowels
are rolled over and around in search of the appendix. Sometimes some
substances are found in it; but often, to the chagrin of the exploring
physician, it is found to be in a perfectly healthy and natural condition,
and so seldom is it found impact with seeds or any substance whatever that
as a general rule it is a useless and dangerous experiment. The percent
of deaths caused by the knife and etber, and the permanently crippled,
will justify the assertion that it would be far better for the human race
if they lived and died in ignorance of appendicitis. A few general
cases might die from that cause; but if the knife were the only known remedy,
it were better that one should occasionally die than to continue this system,
at least until the world recognizes a relief which is absolutely safe,
without the loss of a drop of blood, that has for its foundation and philosophy
a fact based upon the longitudinal contractile ability of the appendix
itself, which is able to eject by its natural forces any substances that
may by an unnatural move be forced into the appendix. To a philosopher
such questions as this must arise: Has the appendix at its entrance a sphincter
muscle similar in action to that of the rectum? Has it the power
to contract and dilate? -- contract and shorten in its length and eject
all substances when the nerves are in a normal condition? And where
is the nerve that failed to execute the expulsion of any substance that
may enter the cavity of the appendix? Has God been so forgetful as
to leave the appendix in such condition as to receive foreign bodies without
preparing it by contraction or otherwise to throw out such substances?
If He has, He surely forgot part of His work. So reason has concluded
for me, and on that line I have proceeded to operate without pain or misery
to the patient, and given permanent relief in seventy-five percent of all
cases who have come to me. With the former diagnosis of doctors and
surgeons that appendicitis was the malady, and the choice of relief was
the knife or death, or possibly both, many such cases have come for Osteopathic
treatment, and examination has revealed that in every case there has been
previous injury to some set of spinal nerves caused by jars, strains, or
falls. Every case of appendicitis, gall or renal stones can be traced
to some such cause.
We should use much caution in our assertions that
nature had made its work so complete in animal forms and furnished them
with such wisely prepared principles that they could produce and administer
remedies to suit, and not leave the body to find them. Should we
so conclude and find by experiments that man is so arranged, and wisely
furnished by Deity as to ferret out disease, purify and keep the temple
of life in ease and health, we must use great care when we assert such
to be undeniably true up to the present. The opposite opinion has
bad full sway for twenty centuries at least, and man has by habit, long
usage, and ignorance so adjusted his mind to submit to customs of the great
past that be will try to reason and bring his mind to such altitude of
thought of the greatness and wisdom of the Infinite, that he may become
insane or fall back in a stupor, and exist only as a living mental blank
in the great ocean of life, where beings dwell without minds to govern
their actions. It would be a great calamity to have all the untrained
minds shocked so seriously as to cause them to lose the mite of reason
they now have, and be sent back once more to dwell in Darwin's protoplasm.
I tell you there is danger, and we must be careful and show the people
small stars, and but one at a time, till they can begin to reason and realize
that God has done all that the wisest can attribute to Him.
If we acknowledge the intelligence of a God, we have
placed ourselves in a position that we are called upon by all that is great,
good, and intelligent to investigate all the facts in the works to ascertain
if they are worthy the belief in an Omnipotent. Make no, assertion
previous to investigation. If it be the machinery of life, justice
would say a careful and thorough investigation is unavoidable, because
we have now on trial the mechanical works of the mind of the Infinite,
and we are oath-bound to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth.
To become qualified jurors in this case we must remember the apprenticeship,
the days of which have been that of a constant worker, through all eternity
to date. And if time and experience have any-thing toward perfection
in knowledge and operative skill, God has had it all.
Could we afford to say, I think for a moment that
the God and mind of all skill did not know and do His work to the full
measure of perfection? First, do you not think His foundation is
not only good, but very good? Beneath the whole superstructure, man, can
you suggest a change in locality for the head, neck, spine, limbs?
Could you add or subtract a single bone, nerve, vein, or artery that you
know would be any improvement on the original? If not, can you add
and get beneficial results? Could you put machinery in there that
would make better blood, or any other fluid necessary to life? Can
you improve on the general covering (or skin) or any other part of the
body. With all your wisdom can you improve on His hair-making machine?
Any improvement on the secretions? lymphatics? any organ, gland, or muscle?
Do you not see at once you have not the mental ability to conceive the
laws of construction, much less the mental power to conceive and construct
a complete machine and endow it with the principles of mind and motion;
of the voluntary, involuntary, motor, sensory, nutrient, and sympathetic
nerve system. Have you ever found under the most crucial examination
a single flaw as shown by the most powerful microscope? Has chemistry
ever detected a failure in the normal process in preparing the fluids of
life? Has it ever found imperfection in the fluid itself or any part
or principle of the whole economy of life? If those fluids are different
in quality and kind, who is warranted to come forward and destroy the harmonious
process of life by the addition of any noxious or innocent drug?
With the beginning of civilization the minds of skilled
mechanics have never ceased for a day to think how to formulate and beautify
His gems. The diamond has been cut in all known forms for the purpose
of receiving light in such manner that by transposing and multiplying the
rays the stone will exhibit brilliantly all seven of the known colors,
with their modulations to give beauty, and attract attention from the philosopher
to those who live to admire the beautiful only. The astronomer's
soul is made to leap with joy when he sees all the beauties of heaven which
he has sought and found in unmeasured space. He sees the revolving
satellites, playing around their mother planets, with all their brilliancy
and activity, each one carrying the lighted candle of the marriage feast.
And with the least move of this gem, like his telescope, his eye comes
in contact with new worlds dead and alive; with the comets dancing to the
heavenly music, gracefully bowing, and bidding adieu for a longer or shorter
period, at which time they will return and partake of the festivities of
The bones and teeth of animals have all kindly received
His skill to give them beauty. We should ever reverence and respect
those whose minds and hands are active no more for their great success
in exhibiting the works of nature.
At this time I wish to call your attention to another
class of thinkers who antedate Abraham. They, too, have formulated
from crude nature a greater gem than all diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and
gems of all stones. This gem, like all great philosophers of either
sex, prefers seclusion to publicity, never coming on the stage of action
save in answer to demand. It combines beauty, innocence, and death.
When in one position it exhibits nothing to your mind but death and destruction.
But like a kind reasoner, it is lovable in form and beautiful to behold.
It has the power to control its passions, and never comes upon the field
of death and destruction until the last moment of forbearance is consumed.
Then it comes forth and executes its deadly mission. That it may
be a gem of great purity and usefulness, the mineralogist and chemist have
exhausted their store of knowledge, and passed over to the skilled mechanic
this once crude metal, known as steel, to formulate the blades of a knife,
with its useful jaws to clamp the blade, with spring to hold in position
when shut, is the emblem of innocence. To hold them open is the token
of death or usefulness. When its labor is done, and a person sees
it in its folded innocence, he says, My friend. No gem stands higher
than this one legacy given to us by our forefathers, unless it be the brains
of the Osteopath, whose mind is the knife to sever the cords of ignorance
which bind the public to drugs.
When we assert we are prepared to discuss the ability
of nature through the arteries and nerve system to construct the various
parts of the machinery used in constructing the animal body of any kind,
we assert a truth. We have said that we have made ourselves acquainted
with all the parts or principles necessary to receive the living forces,
with ample room to carry on the works under the fiat of Divine perfection,
as united or separate laboratories in whose departments all chemicals are
prepared and proportioned, as coming off from the balance-scales of the
Infinite. Previous to their association a higher law, commonly called
affinity, begins to accomplish its unerring work of preparing the fluids
and assigning their delivery to the charge of each distributing officer,
whose wisdom comes from the university of Deity Itself with that charge,
"Let not your right band know what your left band doetb," but obey and
follow the figures and laws as laid out upon the trestle-board of the grand
Architect of all forms and buildings wherein life dwells. We should
ever bear in mind that as the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, when
properly placed, can be so associated as to represent all languages and
tongues, thoughts and conclusions of all the people, of all the eternities
of the past, and all to come, and that in the human book of life there
are possibly twenty-six thousand letters to be comprehended with all their
associations of words or letters, which represent a principle as definitely
as associations of any two or more letters of the English alphabet can
represent a sound or name. Each of them represents a chemical or
soul quality of a distinct division of the great laboratory of nature.
For instance, take four characters, and call together four substances,
and unite them by the law of blending individualized principles together,
by the law of affinity, and form another principle in compounds commonly
known as acid. The addition of one more chemical and you have sugar.
You have by the addition of the life principle formed another substance
from a life chamber; you have separated, dequalified, and returned each
one to the place from whence it came, with all the qualities and the same.
quantity it contained when it left the individual cell, for the purpose
of making by association the one being of which it formed a part, which
has been just separated and each part returned to its place without loss
of weight or change of principles.
Let us compare the heart of a man to the trunk of
a tree. By custom, we say the root of a tree, which conveys to the
mind the part that is in the ground. When we speak of the heart of
a tree we generally aim to express the center. When we open the tree
we find a dark spot which runs all through the trunk of the tree, surrounded
by many rings of wooden growth, one of which appears each year. As
we descend into the earth, keeping this common center, we are led to a
place from whence all roots diverge, and the tree with its trunk and all
its limbs ascends from this common center. Would not a philosopher
conclude that this is the true heart which sends forth its branches both
above and below the surface of the earth? If this be the heart of
the tree, and the root, limbs, and trunk are its products, are we not constrained
by the same law of reason to attribute to the animal heart the center of
life with all the attributes thereunto belonging? And in comparison
conclude that all above the heart are trunk, limbs, and fruit, and all
below are the roots and nutrient system of animal life. on which root and
branch have to depend for sustenance. The difference between the
two is that nutrition is received at the bottom of the tree, and carried
upward to all its branches, producing fruits of all kinds.
In man, nutrition is received at the upper part of the body,
and, like unto the tree, proceeds to perform the duties of construction.
When completed he exhibits fruits below the heart or root of constructiveness
which is known as the off-spring of such beings. I have given you two
beings, one vegetable the other animal, in order to present a comparison of
results, although different in form and kinds, believing the heart of all things
to be the immediate actor and creator of all forms, without which center of
vitality no part can be constructed, sustained, and kept in existence.
Each branch must have stock and interest in this center, constantly receiving
nourishment, and reporting progress of construction and vital supply, without
which failure is absolute in all cases when extended to all roots and branches
of animal life; or death is the effect of universal failure, and equally so
with any division of the human superstructure. The harmony of life must
come in its fullest, and perform all duties thereunto belonging from the atoms
of the finest nerve to the congregated sum total of the whole animal body, or
death will be the result. Thus we are admonished to remember that the
atom is the beginning and ending of animal forms, and their wants must be supplied
or construction ceases to control, and destruction becomes the possessor, with
full power to close all operations of life through the atoms, corpuscles, and
all other fluids, until the final edict of death is recorded in the heart, and
from there to all the limbs and trunks of all animals and vegetables.
The heart is undoubtedly the "king of all, lord of all" -- the first in command,
the last to yield. Its statements have never been questioned. When
it moves, you know. When it stops, you see the end.