Osteopathy is Born
Andrew Taylor Still developed Osteopathy in 1874 . He spent many years in contemplation, observation, and the study of nature, health and disease. A.T. Still was a minister, a soldier in the Civil war, and an allopathic physician. After the the end of the Civil War and the loss of his wife and three children to spinal meningitis, he began his development and use of Osteopathy in earnest.
“My science or discovery was born in Kansas under many trying circumstances. On the frontier while fighting the pro-slavery sentiment … through the Civil War, and … until on June 22nd 1874, like a burst of sunshine the whole truth dawned on my mind, ….”—A.T. Still 1908
Tenets of Osteopathy
Today, the American Osteopathic Association distills the philosophy of Osteopathy into the following tenets:
- The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
- Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
The first tenet speaks to the concept of integration of people—of body, mind, and spirit—and of the importance of the functioning of all aspects of each person.
The second speaks to the often miraculous capacity of the human form to maintain health. This requires both conscious and unconscious actions.
The third speaks to the anatomy and physiology of form and function. The structure of the human form, infused with life force allows perfect function. Equally true is the concept that developmental patterns, present in the adult as regenerative forces, illuminate the spaces through which this perfect form manifests.
The final tenet speaks to the application of these principles by the Osteopathic Physician. Treatments offered by an Osteopathic Physician are based on an understanding of how the body functions in health. Treatments are not based on knowledge of drugs or recommendations by medical associations—though these and other conventional treatments are considered and often integrated into a treatment plan.
Philosophy not Technique
It is interesting to note that these tenets do not describe treatment techniques, and while A.T. Still and most traditional Osteopathic Doctors use their hands to diagnose and treat, today Osteopathic Physicians use all the same modalities as Allopathic or Medical Doctors (M.D.’s). What distinguishes a true Osteopathic Physician from an Allopathic Physician, in fact, is not the training but the approach to health.