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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 7, 2005, Vol. 23, Issue 10

A Healthy Disillusionment

By William E. Morgan, DC
Dr. William Morgan is clinical department head of the chiropractic clinic at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, known as "The President's Hospital." He is also the chiropractic consultant to the Office of the Attending Physician in Washington, D.C.

To most people, the word disillusionment is synonymous with pessimism or cynicism.

This perception is flawed. As a disillusioned optimist, I feel that being disillusioned is the healthiest of all mindsets. To have an illusion or false representation uncovered is empowering.

When children first see a circus, they are enchanted by the wonder of it all - the costumes, the acts, the hype, the lights, and the thrills. But when adults go to the circus, they are no longer taken in by the illusions of the event. An adult sees the soiled costumes, the torn stockings, and the emptiness on the faces of the performers. They see the cramped quarters of the animals. They see through the illusion that the circus presents; they are dis-illusioned. They see things as they really are, and seeing things as they really are is healthy.

Most of us would not be chiropractors if we had not seen through the illusion of the drug industry. We were disillusioned with the medical model of health care. Even now, when we watch commercials for the latest high-profile drug on TV, we are exposed to the illusion of health through chemistry. The drug companies present an illusion that drugs can make you healthier. It is our duty to dispel this illusion. Drugs are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle of exercise, healthy eating, discretion and chiropractic care. However, chiropractic is not impervious from having its own illusions.

Through my career, I have seen my share of chiropractic illusions. Illusions have promoted everything from chiropractic techniques, promotional videos, and nutritional products, to "high-tech" subluxation detection equipment. One of the illusions seen in chiropractic is that adjustments are a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle. Being well-adjusted, chiropractically, does not give you license to forego healthy life choices.

The truth of the matter is that chiropractic wellness care that does not engage patients in the process of managing their own health care leads to an unhealthy relationship of dependence upon the chiropractor. We should include all aspects of a healthy lifestyle in practicing chiropractic wellness, as a means to enhance the chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic wellness should include the promotion of healthy eating, aerobic exercise, ergonomics, smoking cessation, spinal exercises, strength and flexibility training, temperance, and discretion.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear a well-known chiropractic intellectual and philosopher discuss his strong reliance on chiropractic adjustments to maintain his good health. As he spoke, the clinician in me went to work. I noted that this doctor was 50-60 pounds overweight, underconditioned, had postural protraction of his shoulders, and anterior weight-bearing of his cervical spine. It was obvious to me that he was not actively working to promote his own wellness. He was not adequately performing aerobic, strength or flexibility training, or eating with discretion. Apparently, he was relying solely on the chiropractic adjustment for his source of wellness. While I may believe that adjustments promote health, I also know that I must ultimately take responsibility for my own wellness.

To truly be considered a profession of wellness, we need to engage our patients on many levels of health choices. If we exclusively treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions, we will become doctors of manual medicine. If we exclusively evaluate, identify and adjust subluxations, we will become chiropractic technicians. Most chiropractors practice somewhere between these poles - they have wellness practices with a strong neuromusculoskeletal emphasis. These mainstream practices are well-poised to promote health and function. By incorporating exercise and healthy living into our practices, we will become a true wellness alternative to the drug culture of this society.

William E. Morgan, DC
Chiropractic Department
National Naval Medical Center
Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. William Morgan, is the president of Parker University. He previously served as the White House chiropractor (2007-2016), and as the chiropractor to the United States Congress and Supreme Court (2000-2016). He was credentialed at Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed military hospitals, and was team chiropractor for the U.S. Naval Academy football team.

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