“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

It is with the above quote in mind that the principles of Osteopathy, as spoken by Andrew Taylor Still, should always be remembered.

The principles of Osteopathy are:

1. The body is an integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit

2. The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms with the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself

3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

4. Rational therapy is guided through consideration of the first three principles

It is with the continuous pursuit of deepening the knowledge of anatomy and physiology as well as the inherent relationships between them that the Classical Osteopath is able to help a living person to heal themselves through their own anatomy and physiology. To understand that statement differently – the Classical Osteopath is trained to create an Osteopathic structural diagnosis of a person and then use the person’s body with the leverage it presents to return the function (physiology) to a more optimal place by ensuring that the alignment of the structure (a body as a unit of bones, muscles, skin, and any other body parts you want to think of) does not block function. Each person has a different structure (bony framework and muscular build) so the Classical Osteopath respects these differences as they are found and cannot rely on techniques as they do not apply to every body or every situation, Classical Osteopaths create techniques that work with the body they are presented with. Without a legitimate understanding of anatomy and physiology and the principles of Osteopathy, the Classical Osteopath would be an allopathic manual practitioner that does not respect the body as an integrated unit of function.

Osteopathy is its own science, and stands on its own two feet. Comparing Osteopathy to other forms of therapy is a somewhat futile exercise as the lens that the Classical Osteopath uses is unique. It is not the technique that counts as much as the intention and the result. Be wary of anyone that says they have a “technique” for a condition, they have not determined if the “technique” is suitable for you.

9 thoughts on “Principles

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  8. Hi,
    Can you give me a reference about “Find it, Fix it and Leave it alone” about where and when was this first published?
    Thank you

    • If I am not mistaken, and I might be, that specific statement was not actually written in that way in any of Dr. Still’s books. From my best understanding through various mediums (one of the primary ones being Jason Haxton from the Museum of Osteopathic history) this was a statement Dr. Still used in lectures at the American School of Osteopathy and others wrote it in recollection of those lectures. Again, in my best understanding right now, Dr. Still was conveying the message to students that they should diagnose the issue Osteopathically (find it), treat it Osteopathically (using the principles of adjustment – lever/wedge/screw aka fix it), and then let nature take its course (leave it alone). The leave it alone part seems to be specific to 2 things – 1. Do not over treat Osteopathically (do not treat for extended time periods – treatment should not take more than 20 minutes, and do not treat too frequently) 2. Do not medicate the patient – give their physiology time to work. Hope that helps…

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