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Dynamic Chiropractic – June 5, 1995, Vol. 13, Issue 12

The Heart of Healing

By John Hofmann, DC, FICA
On Saturday, April 15, 1995 I had the privilege of being the commencement speaker at Logan College of Chiropractic, my alma mater. Along with the graduation ceremony, the college was presenting an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Mr. John F. Dill, chairman, CEO and president of Mosby-Yearbook, Inc. Mr. Dill is also chairman of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, the largest publishers of medical textbooks in the world. Mr. Dill is also a chiropractic patient.

After being presented with his honorary degree, Mr. Dill went on to give some remarks on the occasion. I listened only half-heartedly at first when he stated to speak about medical technology and was hoping in my heart of hearts that he wouldn't use the words "chiropractic medicine" or some such other oxymoron. I needn't have worried.

He proceeded to discuss a patient entering a waiting room that was full with other patients, but there was only the "cold frosted glass of the reception window" to greet him. Mr. Dill painted a bleak picture of the patient being asked "Who are you?" and "Where are your insurance papers?" The patient was then left in an examining room for 40 minutes or so before he became disgusted and left.

He then told the gathered crowd that while science and technology have proven to be wonderful things we must not forget the most basic of healing: "how the soul of the penitent patient aches for a kind 'good morning' or an acknowledgment that he is a living, breathing human being." Mr. Dill also stated: "Science itself also bares a major responsibility, rooted in the eternal yearning of humanity to know the reason for our presence in the universe. The scientific method offered a process that did not need to be based upon faith." Now he did it -- "faith and healing"? My God, there are triple PhDs turning over in their graves right now at the mere thought of faith and kindness having something to do with healing. Mr. Dill stated that many of us have lost the value of gentleness and kindness, demonstrated simply through courtesy and respect. No one that knows anything at all about health and science would question the relevance of the patient's state of mind in the healing process. "So how can we know so much and yet know so little?" he asked.

He discussed the laying on of hands, healing, kindness, and the fact that we touch our patients. But the best came last when he began to rap up his remarks: "Is it any wonder that your profession is in the ascendancy?" "The fact that chiropractic may be the world's last best chance to reaffirm the basic tenant that healing is an affair of the heart." Caring and kindness can also heal. For bringing us back to reality Mr. Dill, I would like to thank you for having the presence of mind to let us know that in the world of science, technology and great strides in helping human kind there is a personal side in which the profession of chiropractic excels: caring, love and service.

I am sure that once again, after reading this article, there will be letters sent to the editor denouncing anything but hard cold scientific fact. I feel sorry for those people. They have been condemned to live in a world where whatever other people think determines how you react. I have no problem standing up and saying that the chiropractic adjustment is primary and so is the hug, that love and service are not something to be condemned just because they do not enhance the false self-image of others. Mainstream chiropractic is service and caring for the patient, through the principle of chiropractic, not the technic, but the principle. It is not time to denounce our fellow chiropractors but to bring them along and show them that there can be a balance, that all of us need to pull together and join hands and continue to serve, love and help.

At the very moment of writing this (April 18, 1995), 100 years ago there were no chiropractors. In 100 short years we stand at over 50,000 and have managed to became entrenched throughout the world. That we continue to grow, in spite of our petty bickering and the few who would wish to turn us from the second largest healing profession into obscurity, is amazing.

We have two national associations, but so what! I find absolutely nothing wrong with the ICA and the ACA cooperating on a massive scale to promote chiropractic to the population. They can cooperate not just to promote chiropractic practice to the managed care groups but throughout the United States as a method of helping sick people get well and helping to prevent them from getting sick in the first place. There is nothing wrong with us continuing to support and advance science and technology in our profession, but as Mr. Dill reminded the graduates at Logan, don't forget where it all comes from, don't forget why you do it, and keep asking the same questions. I condemn no one, I only declare that I continue to be proud to be a doctor of chiropractic, and that the best parts of my day are spent at the office caring and being with patients.

I would like to steal Mr. Dill's thunder when he called the Wizard of Oz one of the great philosophers of all time. When the Wizard of Oz confronted the Tin Man and asked why he wanted a heart, he commented that the Tin Man was lucky he didn't have one because a heart will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. Doesn't this sound like the way some in our profession wish to lead us? Having a heart and healing hearts and souls, as well as minds and bodies, is what a health profession is all about. We see more and more of this: the body is not just parts and individual organs.

Let's continue to be what we are, health care professionals who recognize the patient as an individual and care for them on an individual basis. Chiropractic must be a profession that is not afraid to explore better ways to do what it is doing, not afraid to change what doesn't work, and continue to stand up for itself with no excuses. We must be a profession that has not forgotten its history, where many of its brothers and sisters chose jail, ridicule, and harassment for the sake of the principle of chiropractic.

John Hofmann, DC
Allen Park, Michigan

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