The Confused decline of a profession in over 100 years and under 1000 words:

Chiropractic principles were discovered in 1895 when Daniel David (DD) Palmer adjusted the spine of a deaf man, Harvey Lillard, and was able to restore his hearing.  This started the belief that adjusting the spine (in particular specific individualized adjustments of precise vectors to Vertebral Subluxations) contributed to more efficient function of the nervous system which restored health.

1897 DD Palmer started the Palmer College.  It has been stated that in the early days graduation was based on results, if you can resolve conditions in 5 visits you passed.  If Not… you needed a refresher course.  According to Chiropractic Historian and researcher, Dr. Donald McDowell, a review of the early literature of Chiropractic’s history showed that only 13% of DD Palmers patients suffered from Neck and back and headaches.  86% presented with, and had positive testimonials for systemic, metabolic, respiratory and digestive afflictions.

As DD Palmers son, Bartlett Joshua (BJ), is rapidly promoting and expanding the profession in the early 20thcentury Chiropractors are going to Jail for practicing medicine, which they proudly do despite being at odds with medicine.

Meanwhile the Healers keep coming:

Thurman Fleet.

Clarence Gonstead.

George Goodheart.

You get the picture.

In the 1970s while Chiropractic’s war with the medical establishment intensifies health insurance company’s offer the Apple of 3rdparty payment.

This Faustian bargain requires that Chiropractic table its long-standing model, Healing is a result of on obstructed flow of nervous system tone (Innate, If you will) and chiropractors merely correct this obstruction (Subluxations if you will) hindering health and switch to an interventionist model favored by western medicine.

At this point Chiropractic has (roughly) 2 types of practitioners, Straights, who believe their jobs are detection and correction of subluxation responsible for the stories of miraculous healing yet has never been shown to be a testable and repeatable model of care, and mixers who primarily mobilize the spine to decrease pain and increase function which HAS been shown as a testable and repeatable phenomenon.

The Insurance companies favor the decrease pain increase function model that spinal manipulation offers. Many Subluxation practitioners, BEING ACTUAL HEALERS, reject 3rdparty insurance and its dictates and continue in the cash for service model that sustained the profession for many years. Likewise, many mixers happily take 3rdparty insurance, and the boost in professional credible afforded them by “evidence-based science.”

Both models DO work which is why Chiropractors have high patient satisfaction ratings from actual chiropractic patients.

Trying to straddle the middle were the Charlatans, those who would bite lustily of the 3rdparty insurance fruit, and code for strains and facet syndrome, while speaking the language of subluxation.

Around this time with an increase in compensation for Chiropractors came the prospects of lucrative careers in Chiropractic.  Chiropractic Colleges could genuinely point to alumni earnings as an enticement for enrolling.  

The Chiropractic colleges wanted to straddle the fence as well; paying lip service to Chiropractic’s “all natural” past while teaching the methods of general spine manipulation that was rewarded with 3rdparty compensation (justifying ever increasing tuition.) 

1980’s-Today: “Now is the best time to be a Chiropractor.”

1990-2000: “Sign Right Here, that’s all it takes to hand someone $100,000 in loans with compound interest.”

2000-2010: “Sign right here, yada yada $200,000, compound interest.

2010-2020: “Don’t become a Chiropractor.”

What happened:

  • With Increased 3rdparty compensation chiropractic saw a rapid growth of Chiropractic students who were seduced by contrasts not explained to them: You will make money as a Natural Healer, while not being taught how to NATURALLY HEAL.
  • Not properly armed to TRULY HEAL and facing a world of diminishing compensation disillusioned Chiropractors have turned to charlatan “coaches” and “consultants” who are more interested in getting “people through the door” and “billing the shit out of their insurance” than in leaders showing that Chiropractic is beneficial for all. 
  • Practice management gurus and consultants whose (Failed) SOLUTIONS (Packages and gimmicks and marketing schemes) are WHAT CAUSED THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE and have damaged the Chiropractic profession which has continued to chase its tail. 
  • Provide unlimited un-dischargable student loans to Chiropractic Colleges who entice students with an overly rosy view of the profession, churning out heavily indebted desperate students who turn towards the Charlatans described in point 2.
  • Confuse a marketing term (subluxation) with a medical condition and lose professional credibility and cultural authority. (Editors note: I am not saying Subluxation doesn’t exist just that it doesn’t have the same cultural understanding as a cavity does to the dentist.)
  • Get Chiropractors fighting over the crumbs left over (the 5% of the general population) who don’t think we are lunatics. 
  • Have Older Chiropractors, who think they are successes because of their financial gain during the 80s, eat their young which is why they go after new graduates who they harvest their souls and make them bitter.

Chiropractic is truly at a crossroads: We can be true healers (Which takes continuous learning and hard work) or we can be functional pain specialists which is easier, but which might become INDISTINGUISHABLE from other professions who manipulate and might already have greater cultural authority (Physical Therapists and Osteopaths).

What we can’t do is what has brought us to the point where general spinal manipulation under the color of specificity makes claims we cannot make.

Nor can we listen to the charlatans who have gotten us into this position.

*Editors Note: Bare with me; I will be doing a series of posts explaining the route that Chiropractic in Asia has taken which in many ways mimics the west; the turn towards “generic” chiropractic while promising the lofty promises of healing that our forebarers were known for. Some of these essays are more along those lines, and may seem out of place, but as new content is published I will link together for congruence. Thank you for your patience.

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