Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
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.
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
Preparing the Blood
The Electric Light and Osteopathy
A Scholarship from the University of Nature
Professor Peacock and a Lesson from His Tail
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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