As chiropractors, our focus should not be directed at examining the IYF mentality in other professions for the purpose of avoiding the need to deal with our own murky situation. Moreover, our focus should not be directed at blaming other chiropractors or chiropractic organizations for our profession's problems. You may ask who we should blame. Is it the fault of the ACA, ICA, WCA, individual state associations, straights or non-straights? The answer is YES! We should all make a herculean effort to act like human beings for a moment, and be honest enough to take our fair share of the blame and stop pointing our fingers at each other. The degree to which we cannot, and do not force ourselves to manifest such humane behavior, is the degree to which the primary directive of our limbic systems, known as self-preservation, controls our actions.
Is it reasonable to say that "straight" chiropractors might have some legitimate concerns about "non-straight" chiropractic attitudes and activities? Absolutely! Is it reasonable to say that "non-straight" chiropractors might have some legitimate concerns about "straight" chiropractic attitudes and activities? Absolutely! So, what do we do? Should we continue to throw dirt back and forth like infants in our sandboxes? We should realize that both schools of thought will always exist no matter what one side says or does. This being the case, perhaps we should examine the good aspects of each perspective. Perhaps what one view lacks is what the other view has to offer. Perhaps there is even a common ground that we could agree upon. Perhaps a common ground would provide each of us with the self-confidence needed to examine other perspectives without being riddled with defensiveness while professing to have open minds.
The common ground I speak of is receptor physiology, a topic that is not well understood by chiropractors (straights or non-straights), allopaths or any other health care provider. The fact that receptor physiology is not well understood by other health practitioners is good for chiropractic, we can explain it to other health professionals and help demonstrate the need for chiropractic. Regarding chiropractic, the fact that receptor physiology is new territory for both straights and non-straights is very good! Whenever we are exposed to new information that is logical, it challenges the veracity of any illogical concepts to which we might be clinging. This evokes fear in the human mind because it forces us to consider that our personal/group perspective may be wrong to a degree. The realization that one is wrong is very beneficial because it is humbling and creates an air of tolerance and appreciation for others, and tolerance and appreciation is certainly what our profession needs.
Consider the following quote from Akio Sato, MD, PhD: "Manipulation performed by chiropractors excites somatic afferent fibers in the musculoskeletal structures of the spine. These afferent excitations may, in turn, provoke reflex responses affecting skeletal muscle, autonomic, hormonal, and immunologic functions."1 Dr. Sato is the director of the department of physiology at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, and has published numerous well respected papers. Imagine that, a renowned MD, PhD, indicates that the chiropractic adjustment may have musculoskeletal, autonomic, endocrine and immunologic effects. How could it be that somatic afferent input could affect the musculoskeletal system, the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system? Perhaps our profession should be trying to answer this question, rather than throwing sand in each others eyes and hitting each other over the head with shovels. There is in fact enough research on receptor physiology to warm the cold heart of the straightest "vitalist" and the mixiest "mechanist." We only need to look and ask the right questions.
Understanding receptor physiology as it relates to the chiropractic adjustment would provide so much exciting data and research possibilities, for both straights and non-straights, that we would not have enough time to spend fighting among ourselves. Instead we could collectively get this information to the public and legislature in a unified manner for the benefit of the patient. It's our fault if we don't do it. And if we don't, in the future the public will suffer and so will our profession, and this we will regret regardless of our individual philosophical perspective regarding chiropractic ... it's our fault!
1. Sato A. Spinal reflex physiology, p.87-103, in Haldeman S, ed., Principles and Practice of Chiropractic (2nd ed), Appleton-Lange, Norwalk, CT, 1992.
David R. Seaman, DC, MS, DABCN
Asheville, North Carolina
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