Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
LISTEN to a life story told in five minutes or more.
I was born on this globe sixty-eight years ago. I had the luck, good or
bad, to be born in a house of drugs. Father was an M.D., also a D.
D. At the end of thirty-five years I began to reason how a doctor of divinity
could blend with the foolish teachings of medicine. Questions arose
like this: How can man harmonize the idea that all God's work is perfect,
and never in running order? His finest machine, man, is never in
running condition? Has the God of wisdom failed in this one superstructure,
man, and why did He say it was good if He knew it would not work as He
thought when He made it, and why should a D.D., who with uplifted bands
says, "His works prove His perfection," and take a dose of quinine and
whisky to assist nature's machine to run the race and do the duties of
life? If so, where is the proof of his faith in God's perfection, and why
should he eat and drink of all that is deadly in effect? I did not
wish to think or speak irreverently of our divines, nor our M.D.'s, who
follow just behind God to fix His machines for the harvest of life.
But why follow His work, if good and wisely made by the hand and mind of
all Intelligence? I began to reason about on this line:
A Life Story
The Machine for the Harvest of Life
A Resolution for Truth
High Respect for Surgery
What Can Osteopathy Give in Place of Drugs?
A Few Questions are Propounded to the Medical Doctors
Would God get offended at man if he would say to
Him, "You have failed in enough places to admit of a few suggestions"?
-- when man in his wisdom, or lack of wisdom, would say by word or deed,
"Thou hast failed to make this and that part or principle to adjust itself
to suit the seasons and climates of the globe, on which it is placed, and
your machine must have additions and be oiled by drugs and drinks, or it
will be forever a failure on the field of battle between life and death
now raging all over the world"? Such questions arose, and stood before
me. for years. I found to my mind that there was a great mistake
in God's work or man's conclusions, if drugs were not in absolute demand
when he was sick. Now I was in a close place, and saw at once that
if I voted to use drugs, I would by that vote set aside the ability of
God to provide for His man under all conditions, and He was not the mind
and intelligence claimed for Him; and if I voted for God, I would soon
find seventy-five per cent of the human race in line to oppose that conclusion.
To defend and maintain that the works of nature bad been able to prove
perfection at every point of observation, or under our most crucial test
of philosophy, I soon found, to be popular I would have to enter a life
of deception; and at that time I determined to run up the white emblem
of truth with the red flag of eternal war for that flag, and by it I would
stand until I was dead, dead, and folded in it to begin the common rest
of all human forms, which is as natural to the body of man as the love
of a mother to her babe.
The advocate of Osteopathy has the highest respect
for the science of surgery, which has been recognized as a science in all
As defined by Dunglison, "Surgery is that part of
the healing art which relates to external diseases, their treatment, and
especially to the manual operations adapted to their cure." A little
more definite is the wording in Chambers' "Encyclopedia": "Surgery
signifies the manual interference, by means of instruments or otherwise,
in cases of bodily injury, as distinguished from the practice of medicine
which denotes the treatment of internal diseases by means of drugs."
As has been before stated, the object of Osteopathy
is to improve upon the present systems of surgery, midwifery, and treatment
of general diseases; it is a system of healing which reaches both internal
and external diseases by manual operations and without drugs. In
the common acceptation of the word, as popularly understood, surgery means
cutting, and any reference to a surgeon's work calls up a mental picture
of such instruments as the knife, scalpel, or lance, and their use upon
the human body. We accept that part of surgery also as of great use
and benefit to mankind. An Osteopath will use a knife to remove any
useless parts as quickly as a carpenter would use a saw to remove a useless
piece of timber.
We recognize the necessity for bandages, lint, splints,
stays, and anesthetics, because they have proven their beneficial uses.
But when should the knife be used? Never, until
all nerves, veins, and arteries have failed to restore a healthy condition
of the body in all its parts and functions. The great failing of
many who enter surgical work is their too frequent use of the knife and
anesthetics. Where chloroform is used a hundred times, ninety-nine
times it could have been avoided with beneficial results to the patient.
Many are the sufferers who go through life disfigured,
maimed, or deprived of some essential organ, who should have had their
body restored to a perfect condition without being so mutilated.
The oftener the knife is used upon the limbs, body,
or head for any purpose, the more positively is shown an inexcusable ignorance
of the natural law, which we recognize as a law able to restore any and
all parts where death of the tissues has not occurred.
What can Osteopathy give us in place of drugs? This
is a great question which doctors ask in thunder-tones. Tell them
to be seated, and listen to a few truths and questions.
"What will you give in place of drugs?" We
have nothing we can give in place of calomel, because Osteopathy does not
ruin your teeth, nor destroy the stomach, liver, nor any organ or substance
in the system. We cannot give you anything in place of the deadly
nightshade, whose poison reaches and ruins the eyes, sight and shape both,
and makes tumors great and small. We have nothing to give in place
of aloes, which purge a few times and leave you with unbearable piles for
We have nothing to give in place of morphine, chloral,
digitalis, veratrine, pulsatilla, and all the deadly sedatives of all schools.
We know they will kill, and that is all we know about them. We do
not know that they ever cured a single case of sickness, but we do know
they have slain thousands, and we cannot give anything that will take their
places. Their place is to ruin for life, and Osteopathy considers
life too precious to place its chances in jeopardy by any means or methods.
In answer to the inquiry, What can you give us in place of drugs? we cannot
add or give anything from the material world that would be beneficial to
the workings of a perfect machine, that was made and put in running order,
according to God's judgment, in the construction of all its parts, to add
to its form and power day by day, and carry out all exhausted substances
that have been
made so by wear and motion.
If this machine is self-propelling, self-sustaining,
having all the machinery of strength, all the thrones of reason established,
and all working to perfection, is it not reasonable to suppose that the
amount of wisdom thus far shown in the complete forms and the workings
of the chemical department, the motor department, the nutritive, sensory,
the compounding of elements, the avenues and power to deliver these compounds
to any part of the body, to make the newly compounded fluids, any change
in the chemical quality that is necessary for renovation and restoration
When we see the readiness of the brain to supply
sensation and motion, and we are notified of an unnecessary accumulation
at any point of the body by sensation or misery, we want that over-accumulation
removed, for it is making inroads on life through the sensory ganglion
to all its centers, which, we know, when fully possessed by diseased fluids,
produce death from climatic or diseases of the seasons as they come and
If life yields to the poisonous fluids that are generated
during detention and chemical changes, why not conclude at once that the
motor power was insufficient to keep in action the machinery of renovation
through the excretory system; and reason proceeds at once to reach the
oppressed points and centers through which the vasomotor or other nerves
are irritated, causing the venous circulation to be so feeble as to allow
diseased fluids to accumulate locally or generally through the system,
to such a length of time that the fluids become deadly in their nature
by the power of separation being overcome and lost.
Osteopathy reasons that the special or general power
of all nerves must be free to travel throng all parts of the body without
any obstruction, which may be caused by a dislocated bone, a contracted,
shrunken, or enlarged muscle, nerve, vein, or artery. When enlarged
or diminished they are abnormal in form, and all their actions in and for
life, which acts must be strictly in obedience to the law of force, are
found in the heart, brain, and the whole sensory system.
If you have a thorough and practical acquaintance,
through anatomy and physiology, with the form and workings of the machinery
of life and health, and treat it as a skillful physiological engineer should,
then you are prepared to say to the doctors of medicine, We have found
no place in the whole human body where you can substitute anything but
death in place of life. Remove all obstructions, and when it is intelligently
done, nature will kindly do the rest.
Let me in conclusion ask the drug doctor if he has
been able at any time to compound any substance that can be introduced
into a vein that leads to the heart, and not produce death? Do you
not throw all substances into the stomach with the expectation that they
will reach the divine chemical laboratory and throw out that which is incompatible
to life? Are not all your hopes in drugs placed upon this one foundation,
that we make the horse of life trot slower for fever, and walk faster in
the cold stage? In short, doctor, is not your whole theory based
Has not nature's God been thoughtful enough to place in
man all the elements and principles that the word "remedy" means?