It is a necessity to know things that are really real. This is necessary to live a free life and doubly necessary to be a good Osteopath. There is no room for looking for things you want to find, you must look for what is actually present. I am writing what follows for my own good as well as to highlight some things that lay as the basic foundation of Osteopathy. I am writing what follows because I have a need to share what Dr. Still has said in black and white.
First let it be known that Dr. Still went through some VERY trying times after “discovering” Osteopathy. He was ridiculed daily. Children would cross to the other side of the street when they saw him. It was not an easy road he traveled (don’t believe me – take a browse at his autobiography).
Now I want to bring attention to a particular quote from his autobiography:
“Either God is God, or He is not. Osteopathy is God’s law, and whoever can improve on God’s law is superior to God Himself. Osteopathy opens your eyes to see and see clearly; it covers all phases of disease and is the law that keeps life in motion.” (find that quote in chapter XVIII)
Is this even meaningful to anyone? It should be. The basic idea being described is that there is a reality to all things that occur in nature and they are governed by natural laws at all times. Something like cement may be considered a man-made substance but it would not be possible if it were not for the natural characteristics of the materials used and how they naturally react to the process which they are placed through (if you are interested take a quick look at this). A similar everyday material is glass and uses heat with sand and other materials to create a normal and natural reaction that creates glass (watch a 2 minute video here). Here is the knock against what I am saying – these processes don’t occur this way with any regularity in nature, they require outside forces to set the stage for the reactions to occur consistently. That being said it is fair to state that the cognitive processes of humans are natural and normal such that, as a species, we interact and intervene with natural processes in every moment of our lives. Our cognitive processes have found natural phenomena and been able to exert a modicum of control over them. Sometimes we are successful and we are able to have a pathway that allows for predictable outcomes within natural frameworks. I would CURRENTLY (remember intellectual evolution allows me to modify my thoughts should I find better ones) state that Osteopathy is just such an understanding of natural phenomena that when there is a block in the flow towards health in the human animal that an outside intervention, using the normal capacities of the specific human animal in trouble, the blockage to the flow is removed and normal health follows.
The previous paragraph is sort of ambiguous and may be co-opted to say that drugs work on the same normal and natural pathways…they do, sort of. So now I will try to be a bit more clear and talk about how I negotiate the blurred lines and find what I consider the reality of Osteopathy. Very simply, structures in the human animal move. They move all the time on some level. Blood vessels have consistent movement in a predictable fashion whether on the arterial side or the venous side. Lymphatic fluid consistently moves, albeit slowly. The nervous system always presents some movement as there is consistent ion exchange as well as conduction of full action potentials or of sub-threshold potentials (local potentials that do not propagate). The lungs are consistently moving at various rates which will not only force movement of all fluids (especially venous blood and lymphatic fluid) but also force movement of the entire vertebral column with every breath and that will have an influence on the entire nervous system on some level. Here is where I will CURRENTLY place my flag – when natural and normal movement is restricted on any level then there will be cellular changes in function in the non-moving tissue(s). All cells are influenced by movement and this is described currently by the mechanism of mechanotransduction. When there is a change in stimuli the cells themselves will display function based only on the stimuli they receive…if it receives no or low stimuli it will likely (I say likely because I want to be accurate with my words) begin displaying hypo-functioning. So now, with the thought of mechanotransduction in my back pocket, the long line of clinical observation that restoring movement to non-mobile tissue(s) returns people to healthy states, and my own personal experiences I have a fairly strong sense that Osteopathy, when INTELLIGENTLY applied based on the principles of nature as Dr. Still clearly stated (not technically applied or standardized), is very powerful.
To finish off here take a look at Dr. Still’s quote above (again). Notice how he mentions this “Osteopathy opens your eyes to see and see clearly; it covers all phases of disease and is the law that keeps life in motion.” Look at the idea of seeing clearly as well as the idea of keeping life in motion. While Still may not have been specifically stating here that life=motion it is at least possible to think he might have been saying that. In many other places through his writing he points to the idea of stagnation as the path to death where stagnation means lack of movement. Keep it simple, the thing that is moving the least is the biggest problem and take that to mean ANYTHING you can ACTUALLY find that is not showing mobility in its anatomically outlined realm of possibilities. If you know your anatomy well enough it will become clear that superficial soft tissue mobility directly relates to layers of soft tissue deep to it through various connections and this is where seeing CLEARLY begins to show importance (aka REALLY know how anatomical structures work and HOW tissues interact with one another…blood is a connective tissue after all). Knowing anatomy intimately allows for the real connections to be made between all tissue layers through palpation based on qualities related to tissue mobility…when tissues stop showing mobility they stop working at full efficiency. When there is less than full efficiency in any cell in the body natural physiological processes that lead to diseased states are more likely to happen as there is less resilience and resistance to those diseased states. So see clearly, see deeply, see ANATOMY.