As I have been attending school here at Sherman I have heard other students on a number of occasions question the importance of the philosophy that is taught here. As a previous biology major in college, and therefore a person whose mind has been trained to look at the world through scientific eyes, I can understand the questioning. Why is the philosophy so important?
Though I tend to look at the world the way that I do, I can’t deny that it is the philosophy that brought me here to chiropractic school. When I was truly introduced to chiropractic I had thought of it from a very mechanistic and scientific view at the time. I thought that chiropractic was simply about moving bones in the spine to fix the problems that were caused by misalignment and relieve pain. I had no back pain or problems; therefore chiropractic was not necessary for me. However the DC that introduced me to true chiropractic did not talk to me about vitalism, or innate intelligence, or the triune of life. And I’ll be completely honest I have a hard time to this day using those terms, but the terms are not what make the philosophy. My DC sat down and explained to me that he believed that God had made man’s body to function perfectly and that the spinal column housed the primary means by which the brain communicated with the body, and that if there were any interference to this communication it would hamper the body’s ability to function. Had he talked to me about chiropractic philosophy in the terms that we use in school, I would not have continued seeing him and I would not be here today.
First of all, what is the philosophy? To put it as simply as I can, it is that every body is designed and organized, whether by God or by nature to perform the tasks of life both at a cellular and an organism level, and this organization is meted out by the central nervous system by means of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is housed in a moveable, protective covering known as the spinal column. As the bones and the ligaments and muscles associated with them move, they can become stuck out of their appropriate position due to various traumas. When this occurs it interferes with the ability of the peripheral nervous system to transmit to the body the appropriate tasks of life causing what the medical world refers to as symptoms. My job as a chiropractor is to locate where this happens and to put the bones back into their optimal position restoring the body’s ability perform the tasks necessary for healing and optimal health.
That gets me back to the main question. Why is the philosophy so important and why did it get me here? The philosophy of chiropractic is important because it sets us apart as a unique profession, but more important than that, it is the part of our practice that we need to know, and be able to articulate to our patients to build a prosperous practice that will bring us the success that we each desire to have and that will help chiropractic to spread and influence the lives of more families. Chiropractic philosophy got me here because it is what I was able to connect with to understand that chiropractic is not symptom based treatment, but instead is a shift in worldview and lifestyle to help my body to perform at peak ability rather than simply dealing with problems as they arise.
Every individual searches for ways to improve their life and have more happiness, and it can be found in many different places. The thing that all of these places have in common is that they help a person to feel more fulfilled and like they have a degree of control in their lives over the course that it is going to take. When chiropractic is properly understood it fills this need. If it is not fully understood, people will go to a chiropractor until they feel better, or get tired of paying for his service and then they move on with little thought about what they may be missing out on. This is a travesty that plagues our profession because too few of our practitioners are learning the art, science and philosophy of this noble profession. They go to school and learn the science and if they’re lucky, the art, and then they wonder a few years down the road why they can’t keep patients or why they are burned out in their profession.
Everyone needs this profession, but without the philosophy being strongly engrained in every patient, there will be no reason for them to continue their chiropractic care. Without understanding the power of innate intelligence, what young mother is going to bring her brand new infant in for an atlas adjustment at two or three days old, and what car accident victim is going to continue care after pain has been relieved and insurance has quit paying for visits. As a successful chiropractor, it is not my job to spend half of my time out advertising and advocating for my practice to try to acquire new patients to constantly replace those that I have been losing. Some time will always need to be spent growing my practice, but if the philosophy is taught to the public in a way that they can understand it, one chiropractor can only handle so many lifetime patients in his practice.
Isn’t this the ultimate goal for each of us? To be able to have a practice that is self-sustaining, that takes care of our families, and at the same time is fulfilling to our need to do something purposeful in life. I don’t think that there are very many things that are more fulfilling than being a part of the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people in your community and being able to know that they appreciate you because you have been able to help each of them to improve their lives.