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


  • Lecture April 25th, 1895
  • Not an Infidel
  • Again That Wonderful Machine
  • What Business Sagacity Teaches Us
  • The Blacksmith and Watchmaker
  • Object of the School
  • Want No Moderate Osteopaths
  • Medicine and Twelve Thousand Poisons
  • A Case of Aphonia
    WEDNESDAY mornings we make it a rule to talk in this hall on Osteopathy.  To those persons who have been here for some time, perhaps these talks, like some sermons, may act as narcotic and induce slumber; but the strangers present may desire to know what Osteopathy is.  The same question is asked, What is medicine?  What is homeopathy?  I take great pleasure in telling you what I know about it.  Before I pass to that subject, allow me to say, some persons think I am an infidel, some a hypnotist, or a mesmerist, or something of that kind or nature.  Disabuse your minds of all such stuff as that once and forever.

    An observation upon our surroundings this morning, of budding trees, growing grass, opening flowers, too plainly tells that Intelligence guided and directed and controlled this wonderful creation of all animate and inanimate things.  Deity, the greatest of all creators, made this mighty universe with such exactness, beauty, and harmony that no mechanical ingenuity possessed by man can equal the mechanism of that first great creation.  Botany, astronomy, zoology, philosophy, anatomy, all natural sciences, reveal to man these higher, nobler, grander laws and their absolute perfection.  Viewed through the most powerful microscope or otherwise, no defects can be found in the works of Deity.

    The mechanism is perfect, the material used is good, the supply sufficient, the antidotes for all frictions, jars, or discords are found to exist in sufficient quantities to the materials selected; and the process through which they pass, after the machine is put in motion and properly adjusted, to maintain active, vigorous life, is marvelous.  Man, the most complex, intricate, and delicately contructed machine of all creation, is the one with which the Osteopath must become familiar.  Business sagacity and sense teach us that in all departments of art, science, philosophy, or mechanics you must have skilled and experienced operators.  Would you think of taking your gold watch when out of repair to a skilled blacksmith, or to a silversmith?  Certainly to the latter -- why? Because he is the man educated and skilled in adjusting this delicately constructed machine.  He knows its construction, the function each wheel-pivot or bearing must perform in order that your watch will with accuracy register the time.  Even then you would not leave your watch with every one who displays a placard, "Watches Repaired." The skilled blacksmith can do his work in his line. He can make a horseshoe to perfection.  He uses vice, bellows, anvil, and hammer; so does the silversmith.  The materials differ in the quantity used by each more perhaps than quality, the great difference being in the delicacy of the machinery, and the weakness of its parts to the susceptibility of any foreign substance introduced into the machinery of the watch to produce irregular motion, obstruction, wear, decay, and finally death.  The blacksmith can set the tire on a wagon or carriage wheel, place it upon the spindle properly adjusted, and it is ready to roll.  The point I wish to have you bear in mind is this, that to be an Osteopath you must study and know the exact construction of the human body, the exact location of every bone, nerve, fiber, muscle, and organ, the origin, the course and flow of all the fluids of the body, the relation of each to the other, and the functions it is to perform in perpetuating life and health. In addition you must have the skill and ability to enable you to detect the exact location of any and all obstructions to the regular movements of this grand
machinery of life.

    Not only must you be able to locate the obstruction, but you must have the skill to remove it. You must be able to wield the sledge-hammer of the blacksmith, as well as the most delicate drill of the silversmith.  The aim of this school is to furnish to the world skilled Osteopaths.  Our ability to do that is beyond question.  A few very ordinary Osteopaths are springing up here and there, who in time will demonstrate their failures as all incompetents must.

    I am saddened at the thought of the impositions thus palmed off on the public, and association of the word Osteopathy with the names of pretenders.  The consoling thought is that their days are numbered.

    The Hoosier, when he meets another, says, "How are you?" The, reply invariably is, "Moderate." We want no moderate Osteopaths.  We want and must have all Osteopaths who, when they find pneumonia, flux, scarlet fever, diphtheria, know the exact location and cause of the trouble, and how to remove it.  He must not be a blacksmith only, and only able to hit large bones and muscles with a heavy hammer, but he must be able to use the most delicate instruments of the silversmitb in adjusting the deranged, displaced bones, nerves, muscles, and remove all obstructions, and thereby set the machinery of life moving.  To do this is to be an Osteopath.

    You who are here today have only to use the sense of sight to satisfy you whether I speak truly or not.  Medicine, as shown by dispensatories, has called to aid about twelve thousand different kinds in its efforts to heal diseases.  With all these, the most intelligent of the profession are not satisfied with the results.  This long list of poisons is an attempt to prove God made a failure in providing a law by which disease might be reached and arrested by a thorough knowledge of that law.  I believe God made no mistake.  I believe man made the mistake when he undertook to inject poisonous substances into the human system as a remedy for disease, instead of applying the laws of creation to that end.  Here is where Osteopathy and medicine part company.  When I touch the keys on this piano, the effect of the stroke is to produce a sound; when in tune the combination of notes produces harmony; the same law is found to exist in the vocal chords.


    I see in the audience a lady that came here a few days ago suffering from aphonia, who had been in that condition for ten weeks, whose voice can now be beard all over the house. (At the doctor's request, the lady spoke in a distinct, audible tone.)  This is a restoration of voice brought about by simply adjusting the vocal organs.  Deity created the organs, and also the law of their adjustment when out of order; neither did He mistake in the creation, nor in the law.

    Regarding the evil effects produced by the free use of drugs, much can be said, yea, volumes could be written to trace the injuries produced by the use of calomel alone.  This morning I will mention only one or two.  About sixty years ago quinine was first used, and then very sparingly; but soon, on account of its supposed efficacy in malarial fever, it became the great panacea as a febrifuge.  Not only the size of the doses was increased, but the frequency in the doses also.  Prior to that time fibroid tumors were scarce.  Today I verily believe the greater number of fibroid tumors we find in people are produced from the large quantity of quinine used, together perhaps with belladonna and other poisonous substances.  These excrescences, the foundation for which was laid by one generation of doctors, furnish this generation with an ample opportunity for the use of the surgeon's knife.  The attempted removal of them by the knife usually removes the patient to that other land, about the time the tumor is removed from the body.

    Bereaved husbands and friends reverentially listen to the minister relate that in God's providence the sister had been called to her eternal home far beyond moving worlds and burning suns.  By way of consolation to the bereaved husband, be quotes the Scriptural text, with an addendum attached: "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" (with another wife).