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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 1, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 05

"Bye-Bye Barrett"

By Richard Tyler, DC
We've done it again. By mentioning someone over and over again, they are given a stature they don't deserve. That's one of the first laws of advertising. Inadvertently, we tend to do this with some of our greatest adversaries. By constantly mentioning medicine we tend to make it a kind of scientific bench mark that we must all follow. We invite medical personnel to luncheons so they can tell us how awful we are and print their diatribes in our journals so that we may all "learn" from their wisdom.

The latest nonsense was published in the November 1990 issue of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Journal of Chiropractic. It was an article by Stephen Barrett, M.D. which was supposed to serve as a response to a brilliant letter from George McAndrews. Gadflies like Dr. Barrett thrive on attention. Instead of minding his own business, some time ago he decided to become an official crusader against quackery. To become one of these, it must be assumed that he had to become both the judge and jury of all he surveyed. His greatest preoccupation, not surprisingly, has been chiropractic. He makes an occasional foray into some other health enterprises he's personally judged unquestionable, but chiropractic is his "main squeeze" in quackery.

Where we make a mistake is by acknowledging his existence, for he loves the notice we give him. He thrives on the opportunity to lecture us, as if he were a father scolding a child. If we would just know our place, as he sees it.

In truth, all Dr. Barrett is, is an ignorant medical windbag. His list of "unacceptable" chiropractic procedures include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Preventive maintenance: Apparently it's okay to brush your teeth twice a day to prevent cavities or go regularly to the medicine chest to take the drugs the medical practitioner has prescribed for patients to take several times a day, but it's the epitome of evil to suggest to patients that their spines should be examined and adjusted once a month.


  2. The philosophy that structural aberrations may affect organic function through the nerves: Dr. Barrett claims that "there isn't the slightest scientific basis for such beliefs." And woe be to those with an anatomical chart on the wall from Gray's Anatomy, for it might suggest to a patient that structure just might affect function. He conveniently ignores the years of in-depth research that has been done, and continues to be done, by the osteopathic medical profession that validates the hypothesis of structure affecting function through the somatovisceral reflex. He also ignores the ongoing chiropractic research by Suh and many others as if it doesn't exist. And while on the subject of science, I'd like to know about the "scientific" validity behind all the drugs he and his fellow MDs (with their average of 60 hours of study in pharmacology) dump on the public and consequently kill by the thousands. These drugs are produced by drug companies that had to recently admit before Congress they lied when they said they followed proper research protocols before pushing them on the medical stooges. In fact, I'd like to know about the scientific validity of about 90 percent of what the allopathic medical profession does.


  3. The confusion about what chiropractic adjustive techniques are most effective: Is this like an MD telling his patient to "try" this drug and if that doesn't work "try" this? Like anything else, patients respond differently to different things. Fortunately, our patients don't die with the same regularity as they do with the wacko chemicals the MD pours into his.


  4. The chiropractic abuse of nutrition as a therapeutic modality: You have to give Dr. Barrett credit for a lot of nerve. Neither he nor his profession knows a thing about the subject since, with very few exceptions, nutrition is ignored in the medical curriculum. The science of nutrition has been researched, articulated, and expanded by the many nutritional companies we, as a profession, so often use. For years I've clinically seen genuinely impressive results through the aggressive use of supplements, both in my own private practice and while associating in a medical clinic that had the wisdom to use nutrition as a major therapeutic approach. Apparently Dr. Barrett would rather we drop the relatively safe and effective use of nutrients and replace them with the use of potentially dangerous, poorly researched, but "scientific" drugs. It's all right to pour chemical refuse into the human body with FDA approval, but we must never even suggest that food concentrates might be of value in assisting the body to fight a pathological process. One who promulgates such a conceptual rationale is either a fool or a charlatan.


  5. He feels the use of homeopathic remedies by chiropactors are worthless: "I don't believe they work." Homeopathy has proven for the last 200 years that it's a safe and effective alternative to allopathic drugs. In his article he tells how he studied and then "advised" homeopaths on how to improve themselves and goes on to offer us the same help. Are we lucky or what?


  6. The use of applied kinesiology as a diagnostic modality: In truth, applied kinesiology (AK) is not a comprehensive diagnostic tool. Neither is iris analysis, laboratory analysis, x-ray diagnosis, EKG, or anything by itself. They are not meant to be. It's "listening" to the body's many voices that increases the validity of a diagnostic assumption. Since Dr. Barrett has undoubtedly never bothered to really study AK, it's doubtful his opinion has any value. For that matter, the average medical student has only had approximately two to three hours of formal study on the musculoskeletal system in medical school, so an MDs comments on the subject should be treated with the same relevance as they place on the subject.

In the same article, Dr. Barrett admits that we might do something good (isn't he kind?), but isn't sure what or how. In spite of this, and out of a "sincere interest" in saving us from ourselves, he tells us of his support for a group of chiropractic misfits and frustrated medics who want to be "real doctors" by being taught such things as pharmacology. There are those within chiropractic who have been seduced by the mesmeric glitter of medicine -- the ones who would sell their professional souls for a paternal pat on the head by anyone with an "MD" after his name. He also alludes several times to our desire to be "accepted" by medicine, thus placing upon he and his colleagues the power and privilege of judging and "approving" what we do as a profession.

The sad part of all this is that he's right. Everytime we print his nonsense we give him and others like him a forum to feed their pathetic egos. Remember, we exist as a monument to medical failures, not successes. We continue to not only exist but grow, because the public is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the legal druggings and butchery forced upon them by organized medicine and the pharmaceutical companies. They are looking for, and finding, a safer and more effective alternative in chiropractic.

No, we aren't perfect in any way. Like medicine, we have our professional warts. We know our problems and it's up to us to take care of them. We don't need some pompous, self-appointed, egotistical know-it-all to periodically lecture us about what is and isn't "scientific" or valid. We don't need his kind to tell us how many times we should adjust, what kind of technique to use, what kind of charts we should have on the walls of our offices or what nutrients or homeopathic remedies we should give our patients. And we don't need people like Dr. Barrett to teach us how to give a physical examination, what kind of x-rays to take or, least of all, how to prescribe drugs.

Please, let's ignore the Barretts of medicine. His type only wants to feel important and see his name in print. Let them spend their time cleaning up the mess that medicine is in today before they start poking around in the closets of our professional home. However, lest Dr. Barrett should feel that I'm personally ungrateful about his offer to "help" chiropractic, let me do the same for him. Right now I'm offering my services to medicine. I'm ready to teach them nutrition, homeopathy, physical therapy, physical diagnosis, x-ray, and all sorts of wonderful things, but I don't think I'll wait for the phone to ring.

So, let's say "bye-bye" to Barrett, for good. Certainly I'll not mention him again. He's already taken up too much of our time and he's just not worth it.

I shall neither seek nor do I want Dr. Barrett's or organized medicine's approbation. To receive it would be the antithesis of everything I stand for and an insult to my professional integrity.


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