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


  • Osteopathy as a Science
  • I Got So Mad I Bawled
  • The Triumph of Freedom
  • Reproached for Opposing the Teachings of My Father
  • Osteopathy and Reverence of God
  • The Telegraphy of Life
  • The Circulation
  • Preparing the Blood
  • Sickness Defined
  • The Electric Light and Osteopathy
  • A Scholarship from the University of Nature
  • Professor Peacock and a Lesson from His Tail
    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: -- I cannot express myself as an orator; timidity came to me at birth, or maybe it was waiting for me a week beforeband.  It is easy for me to use such big words as "I will" or "I won't," and I do not hesitate to say I will demonstrate that Osteopathy is a science.  The purpose of these meetings is to give you an insight into its meaning.  The average person can't tell whether it is an earthquake, a cyclone, or a comet.  Even the Governor [* The Governor referred to was Governor Stone, who vetoed the first Osteopathy bill.] of the great State of Missouri thinks it a special "gift or secret."  We know it is a science founded on truth -- a science which any man of average intelligence, who will studiously apply himself, can learn.  It is a science of the  law which can control fever, flux, measles, and diphtheria.  It never goes into the line of battle to meet those foes under a flag of truce, but defiantly waves the black flag.

    In this work we must depend upon the absolute law of Deity for results.  If you object to that, all right; you may take guesswork, if you choose, I will not lose my hold on Deity.  If you want to see the result of guesswork, look at our graveyards, full of babies, little children, young mothers, and men who failed to reach the prime of life.  I can tell you God never meant to fertilize the earth in such manner.  It is the ignorance of man which produces such results.

    I remember that in the harvest-fields out in wind-swept Kansas, while the men wore shirts, most of them with holes in them, one day a Dutchman sat down against a tree to rest, and something crawled through one of the holes.  The Dutchman pulled it out of his bosom, asking: " What's dat?  Will it bite?" About that time I found something in my bosom.  It was Osteopathy.  I pulled it out into view and asked as the Dutchman did of the snake: "Will it bite?" The answer came: "No, I want to give to mothers the comforts due them.  I want to give ease and quiet to children so that they can fulfill the law of nature and develop from an atom to a full-grown being.  And in this one form you will find all that heaven and earth contain, fully represented, mind, matter, and motion, blended by the wisdom of Deity.

    My neighbors said of this strange thing I showed them, " Nonsense; you are crazy," until I grew ashamed to hold God's works to view even in the freedom-claiming State of Kansas.  And when they spoke so slightly of this science which is backed by God, like the Dutchman when his wife died, "I got so mad I bawled."

    The nineteenth century triumphed over slavery, but who appreciates true freedom? -- for it appears there is one wise man to ninety-nine fools among the people.  When I tried to explain that the brain acted as a common battery, they thought these secrets belonged to God, and reproached me for opposing the teachings of my father, who, during his life, had been a good physician, using pills, purges, plasters, and all the poisons be bad been taught were essential to the curing of disease.  He lived up to the best light he had, but a fuller and brighter light has broken on us from the intelligence of God much better than the old guesswork.  I hope to give all my life to the study of these human engines, these combines of mind and matter, and whenever I find a new truth I shall trumpet it to the world.

    I want the character of my discoveries to be such that when an inquirer asks whose writing is upon the pages of Osteopathy, the answer may be, Truth.  "They bear the truths of the Architect of the universe."

    It has been said to me: "Are you not afraid of losing your soul running after this new idea, this strange philosophy?"

    I have no fear that following a law made by God will lead me from Him.  Every advance step taken in Osteopathy leads one to greater veneration of the divine Ruler of the universe.

    I do not want to go back to God with less knowledge than when I was born.  I want my footprints to make an impress on the fields of reason.  I have no desire to be a cat, which walks so lightly that it never creates a disturbance.  I want my footprints to be plainly seen by all readers.  I want to be myself, not "them," not "you," not "Washington," but just myself; well plowed and cultivated.  I expect to continue searching into the construction of this engine where I find so much to interest me -- in the brain of man, with its two lobes, cerebellum, medulla oblongata, spinal cord, and various sets of nerves, branching off, completing the machinery which controls the telegraphy of life.

    In the heart I find chambers where blood is stored to pass through the arteries of the entire system, and when done returns through the veins to the heart in an impoverished condition, to receive nourishment from the chyles which pass through the ducts to renew the blood.

    Each vein has many water-buckets.  God provides water-buckets and water for the veins.  The lymphatics furnish water supplies, and thin the Jersey milk of the chyle, getting it ready for the pulmonary arteries.

    Sickness is caused by the stopping of some supply of fluid or quality of life.

    In case of paralysis you go from one doctor to another to find one who can throw the current of life on the spinal cord.  He fails with drug remedies, and finally you find a man who touches the button and turns on the light.  So in case of diphtheria; you want a man that understands the machinery of man.  He conquers the disease by knowing how to apply the principles of this science along the lines of sensation, motion, and nutrition.  He cures your child; then you are happy, and give vent to your joys.  An Osteopath is taught that nature is to be trusted to the end.

    The principle of the electric-light is the same as Osteopathy.  It has two batteries composed of opposite chemicals; bring them together by action, and an explosion of light is produced.

    The same principle shows how a bird keeps warm -- its heart-beats are quick.  The snowbird has about three hundred and sixty beats per minute, while the elephant has only about one in three minutes, and the whale still less.

    Why is the wind-bag or lung placed in the breast?  Is it to explode oxygen and sustain life and keep you warm?  If the machine is in a healthy state, would you narcotize it until the battery cannot act?

    Oxygen is sent through the entire body and throws a bombshell into the camp of death.  But some refuse to accept the new and better way.  They want the same old whisky-and-drug course.

    All right, no gun can shoot stronger than its construction warrants, and they can do no better.

    People have to be educated; they are like rats in a trap.  Their doctor may be a good man, but he is practically helpless under the system he advocates.  He lets his wife die, lets his child die, that he would give worlds to save, dies himself because he travels away from God's school of instruction.

    An Osteopath is only a human engineer, who should understand all the laws governing his engine and thereby master disease.

    When asthma comes and destroys life, the pulmonary nerves thicken and get stupid, the nerves lose control, and inharmony is the result.  Turn on vitality as God directs, and don't make your patient drunk.

    In case of flux, when the bowels are on fire with pain, an Osteopath presses the button of ease, and in a few minutes the agony is over and the child is hungry.

    Shame on the knife that cuts a woman like a Christmas hog.  Almost one-half the women of today bear a knife-mark, and I tell you, God's intelligence is reproached by it.

    An Osteopath stands firm in the belief that God knew what to arm the world with, and follows His principles.  And he who so far forgets God's teachings as to use drugs, forfeits the respect of this school and its teachings.

    God is the Father of Osteopathy, and I am not ashamed of the child of His mind.

    I purchased a scholarship in the university of nature, for which I have paid a very high price, and got my receipt in full.

    I had only heard of the ability of the President.  I was told that He possessed a great store of knowledge -- in short, knew all things.  As a skilled mechanic, imperfection in forms of all parts was a word that He did not comprehend, because His works never possessed a flaw nor fault in form.

    From the construction of worlds, with their laws of life and motion, with any imperfection to compare and see the difference, if any, between perfection and imperfection, would it not be reasonable to suppose that He was not at all acquainted by the comparison of His own works of the meaning of the word imperfection?  With this caution and knowledge given to me, I have
entered the college.

    I was ordered by the dean of the faculty to follow the sexton, and make the acquaintance of the professors of all the departments of this great school of learning.  It was nine o'clock in the morning when I began to follow the sexton from room to room.  I was introduced to a most beautiful professor by the name of Peacock, which signifies the skilled work and paintings of the departments of color.  Professor Peacock says:

    "You will go through all other rooms in which every animal, fish, and fowl occupy chairs as professors.  Each one of them has a knowledge of the minutiae of all forms, origin, and insertion of every piece or principle belonging to his department.  He begins and completes the whole body, paints, spots, stripes, and beautifies to the highest desire of nature, from the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, the beasts of the field, to the crowning effort of God Himself, which is given in the form of man: beautiful in shape, containing all the machinery in the existence of life, the attributes of God, mind and reason. so harmoniously blended that not a flaw nor fault can be found in any room when inspected by God Himself.

    And when you shall have received an introduction to all the professors of this great work wherein form is given and life is put in possession as the indweller and commander of that division of life only, you will comprehend its wonders.

    Then you will report to me at this room, and I will begin with crude material, place your feet on the ladder of progress, and hold you there until you reach the top round.  You will master chemistry, a department in which matter is qualified to be put into the bands of the skilled mechanics, who observe and execute the duties of giving form to every piece found in the constructed beings, preparatory to banding it over to the skilled painter.  You should follow him through all rooms in which these chemicals of color are prepared, to learn bow to apply and paint according to the specifications found as written by the hand and mind of Deity.

    You must and shall dwell here until you are master of all the arts as indicated in my form and appearance, as you now see me.

    I am an open book of nature that you must study.

    No partial knowledge will suffice.  Your diploma must have the seal of acceptance and approval of the Architect who exacts perfection in knowledge, and prove it by your work.

    You must paint and display on my body all known colors, spots, stripes, and beautify as you can see and read, plainly written by the band of the Architect just spoken of, or dwell here through all eternity with peacocks.  If God stayed to finish, and did leave this patron of beauty and wisdom, why do not you learn all about the parts and principles herein found?

    We see previous to forming a feather in the peacock's tail, a rounded-up set of muscles, veins, nerves, and arteries -- preparatory to forming a being called the feather, coming out of the back of any fowl.  This preparation is large or small according to the duties it has to perform.  It has to form a spindle, which requires the nerves of force to push it out of the skin of the bird.  To all appearance it simply pushes out a pencil-like spindle.  From the gland or matrix of this being in formation by this process, soon this spindle is out many inches or less from the body.  Here we begin to see the formed end of the feather with all its beauties, in colors selected to suit.  As the feather pushes farther out we see a spot-black, green, blue, or white.  When this spot is formed as the feather still extends from the body, we see another color blending and beautifying so much of the feather, and we see no more of the black deposited.

    It is reasonable to suppose that the nerve that furnishes the black color and has ceased to keep up the black painting is broken off or become disabled in some way, and never throws out any more during the whole formation of the feather, but keeps up its beautiful coloring of both sides to blend with and beautify the spot just left, clear on to the completion and ripening of the feather.

[graphic 316: "PROFESSOR PEACOCK."]

    Inside of this chamber in which the feather is attached to the body we find all this chemical power to paint and beautify, and all over the whole body of the bird, with like preparations to complete shorter and longer feathers, to suit the locality on which they are situated, to the completion of the whole bird or any other bird, from the humming-bird to the condor.  I am taught by this that God is the finest Chemist and Painter in the universe, as is shown.  We would like to learn a few more lessons from His beautiful birds.