In the first half of this article, we will briefly mention some of the most influential growing pains in chiropractic, from its discovery to present day, and then conclude with a discussion on how these events might still be holding the profession back, and how we might be able to forgive and move on.
7 Events that Changed Chiropractic History
It has been said that one of the biggest mistakes the Palmers made was to start a profession without having all their facts lined up. But if that was the case, if they had waited for science to prove how DD Palmer had helped Harvey Lillard regain his hearing, then we might still be waiting for the profession to get started.
It didnt take long after the discovery in 1895 for two actions to happen. The first event was the decision to formally teach this new principle. This occurred in 1896, with the establishment of the Palmer Chiropractic School and Infirmary by DD Palmer. The second inevitable event was the introduction of competitive chiropractic colleges. As early as 1901, Solon Langworthy, an early Palmer graduate, started the first competitive chiropractic school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, later to be called the American School of Chiropractic. Half a dozen other schools opened up in the next few years, including, most notably, the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago (founded by John Howard in 1907) and the DD Palmer College of Chiropractic in Portland, Oregon, which began in 1908 (1).
Since each early chiropractic school was founded by either former students or faculty members of Palmer, tensions soared, especially evidenced in DD Palmers 1910 Chiropractic Textbook. This 1000+ page tome, aside from having the foundational pillars of chiropractic within its pages, also contained hundreds of pages of DD Palmers lashing out at various other chiropractors who he argued were teaching chiropractic erroneously (2). Hence, within the first 15 years of our profession, it was already divided.
BJ, who had graduated and taken over the Palmer school in 1902 (1), introduced X ray into the schools curriculum in 1910. This caused a huge schism in chiropractic. Because of this, Joy Loban and other former faculty started the Universal Chiropractic College that same year, down the road from the Palmer school in Davenport, Iowa. (3). More bricks in the wall (accompanied by further faculty exiting) occurred when BJ Palmer introduced the neurocalometer in 1923 and when he announced the HIO technique in 1930 (4).
Chiropractic fought hard for third party insurance payment from 1965 until 1972, when chiropractic was included, although in limited form, in the Medicare bill (5). Inclusion into medicare delighted some DCs but infuriated others, who said the language that forced us to adjust subluxations only seen on x-rays was too restrictive. In 1987, the Chester Wilk vs. the AMA case made history. After 11 grueling years, a US District Court judge ruled against the AMA, stating that the American Medical Association was guilty as charged of trying to eliminate chiropractic. This landmark antitrust case forced the AMA in an injunction to cease restricting the association of chiropractors and medical doctors and to stop restricting the growth of chiropractic and its associated schools.
Finally, in October of 2002, Life University, at the time the largest chiropractic school in the world, lost its accreditation in a ruling by the CCE. Although by February of 2003, a retroactive injunction restored Lifes accreditation back through the day it had lost it, the damage had been done and the school went from an enrollment of over 3000 DC students to less than 1000.
How do we forgive and move on?
Forgiveness should be a healing journey. However, if we are holding on to old baggage, it is difficult to let go. Forgiveness does not mean you need to approve of past behaviors or experiences you have gone through. Grief and mourning are a natural response to past loss and injustices. Grief is a normal reaction to loss and mourning is an outward expression of grief typically utilizing rituals.
To forgive, we must first decide to make a change. When we identify the pain that a grudge or hard feelings create, we must realize they are emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. Burying memories of hurt and anger does not allow them to release; they just manifest in other ways. Lack of forgiveness causes distress to the body and eventually leads to dis-ease. Grudges can crowd our positive viewpoint on our world. Studies have shown that anger can exacerbate the disease process. According to the Harvard Womens health Watch, holding a grudge has shown to mimic the way the body responds to actual stressors through muscle tension, higher blood pressure and increased sweating. Studies have reported that people who releasing their stress by talking it out display greater improvement.
The 7 pivotal chiropractic events, as mentioned above, have lead to a lack of trust across the profession. These feelings of betrayal can lead to difficulty in future relationships and interactions. We can learn from the past if we put it into perspective to understand the lessons that have been taught, even if they are at first perceived as negative. We must understand that we can not always control events around us.
For instance, BJ Palmer brought x-ray into his chiropractic school before anyone knew much about it. Many of the Palmer faculty was outraged at BJs insistence on bringing x-ray to the school, wondering why he would forsake palpation and clinical experience over some crazy scientific invention that they were sure was just a passing phase. Back then, the introduction of x-ray was so radical that it probably looked threatening to the fledging profession. Add to that BJs demanding personality, and it isnt unfathomable to understand why Joy Loban and other faculty stormed out of Palmers hallways forever. Chiropractic was only 15 years old then! If we consider that the father of medicine, Hippocrates, was born in 460 BC, almost 2500 years ago, it is clear how chiropractic was and still is in its toddler stages. Arent most toddlers a bit confused by paradigm shifting new ideas?
That old saying, however, holds true: hindsight is always 20/20. Where would chiropractic be without x-ray in the 21st century? It is probably one of the most important diagnostic tools at our avail, is taught in every chiropractic school, and has been for years. BJ saw the future in that decision; even the neurocalometer (back then called the neuro-calamity by its naysayers) was his precursor to the modern surface EMGs as the HIO technique was the birth of specific adjusting now seen in modern chiropractic techniques such as Activator, CBP, and the many derivations of Upper Cervical Technique.
Another example is the rise, fall and subsequent rebirth of Life University. We arrived as faculty on the Life University campus in the Spring Quarter, 2001. Little did we know that only a few quarters later, Fall 2001, a chain of events with the CCE would nearly drive Life University to its knees. Within one year we watched with horror not only the events of 9/11 but the devastation of what was when we arrived a ooming chiropractic school. Class sizes went from over 200 to 30 or 40 students tops. We knew, in early 2004, that without some divine intervention, something cataclysmic was going to happen, not just to the University, but to the profession as well.
Enter stage left: Dr. Guy Riekeman. From his arrival in Spring 2004 until the writing of this article in late 2007, we have witnessed the turn-around of the century. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, enrollment at Life University has increased to over 1000 DC students, coupled with a new and grander vision that will make LU not just the leading chiropractic school but also a cutting edge university poised to take on the problems confronting the 21st century and beyond. Who would have imagined this result in 2002 when the CCE yanked Lifes accreditation? Obviously, things do happen for a reason.
How do we practice and learn forgiveness for ourselves?
The following are some simple suggestions on how to bring forgiveness into your life and master the skills that can allow for a smoother journey:
Reminiscing about the positives of a situation
Journal writing to express your feelings and thoughts
Share your feelings with others
Support groups to help you not feel alone in your experiences
Work on your relationships
Work through pain of loss
Heal past wounds to go on to future
Make a list/letter of what and who you need to forgive, use symbolic closure (i.e. burn, bury or mail the letter)
Visualize what it would look like when you let go of the hurt/anger
Forgiveness quotes/affirmations (ie, Everything happens for a reason, Let go and let God)
Create a forgiveness calendar
Read motivational books and listen to inspirational tapes
Go to chiropractic and motivational seminars
Move to the future
Chiropractors have a unique history and should be celebrating the accomplishments achieved over the past 100+ years. However, it is also a time for letting go and moving forward. As a profession, it is important to bring forgiveness as a gift to all your patients that participate and support Chiropractic. Forgiveness will allow you to be a better server and giver and has the ability to change the face of a healing art for generations to come. We have weathered every storm that has come our way. Lets move positively in the direction of our dreams, together, forgiving our past transgressions, propelling us towards a healthier human race for posterity.
Article written by Drs. Drew and Lisa Rubin
1. Senzon, Simon A. The Secret History of Chiropractic. PhilosophyOfChiropractic.com, Asheville, NC, 2005: 168-184.
2. Palmer, DD. The Chiropractic Textbook. Portland Printing House, Portland, Oregon, 1910.
3. History of the Universal Chiropractic College history, found at: http://www.chiro.org/Plus/History/navigate.html.
4. Palmer, BJ. The Subluxation Specific, The Adjustment Specific. Palmer School of Chiropractic Printing Press, 1934.
5. Chiropractic on the Medicare Chopping Block, Dynamic Chiropractic
November 2, 1998, Volume 16, Issue 23, found at: http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/16/23/01.html
6. The Chiropractic Antirust Suit: Wilk vs AMA, found at: http://www.chiro.org/Wilk
7. Life gets preliminary injunction. Dynamic Chiropractic, Mar 10, 2003. Found at:
8. Harvard Womens Health Watch, Harvard Health Publications. January 2007. Found at:www.health.harvard.edu.