THE PRINCIPLES OF OSTEOPATHY
1. The body is a unit.
2. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
3. The body is capable of healing itself.
4. Rational treatment utilizes the application of those principles.
Andrew Taylor Still M.D. (1828-1917), the founder of Osteopathy, started out by searching for an alternative to his time’s crude medical practices. It was before the discovery of antibiotics and the implementation of sophisticated medical and surgical practices. At that time, doctors commonly prescribed toxic medications such as arsenic, strychnine, mercury chloride, belladonna, and purgatives, and also, performed “heroic” blood letting to purify patients.
Still began as an orthodox physician serving on battle fields in the Civil War. He studied many popular drugless modalities after losing his wife and two children to meningitis. At the time of their illness, Still wasn't sure whether the disease process was in fact worse than the treatment itself. Eventually, he renounced most drugs and treated many illnesses manually, resorting to surgery only when absolutely necessary. He practiced the arts of obstetrics and surgery with great precision.
Still’s treatments were based on applying his knowledge of anatomy and physiology manually to the various structures of the body to instigate and augment healing.
Dr. Still wrote his first two books, (1 and 2) in his own very individual style, describing his philosophy based on his personal experiences and observations. He wrote two more books (3 and 4) about his clinical experiences. These remain pertinent today.
Dr. Still started the first Osteopathic College in 1892 and taught there until he died. In 1953, to clarify Still’s archaic and metaphorical writings, an interpretation of his ideas (5) was written expressing the four principles of Osteopathy.
1. A.T. Still, Philosophy of Osteopathy, published by A.T. Still, Kirksville, MO, 1899
2. A.T. Still, Autobiography of Andrew Taylor Still—with a History of the Discovery and Development of the Science of Osteopathy, published by A.T. Still, Kirksville, MO, 1908
3. A.T. Still, Osteopathy, Research and Practice, published by A.T. Still, Kirksville, MO, 1910
4. A.T. Still, Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy, Hudson Kimberly Publishing Company, 1902
5. Robert C. Ward et al, Foundations for Osteopathic Medicine, published by Williams & Wilkings, 1997 edition