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Elders Not Presentable
But then, a handful of eccentrics decided to translate their writings and make them available to all. All of sudden, Still and Sutherland became a source of concern! They are labeled as obsolete, outdated, overly involved in the esoteric and the spiritual. In short, our Elders were not presentable. Officially, they apparently disturb the harmony of the whole. In truth, they just don’t fit in. Admittedly, Still was not entirely reasonable. For a start, in his writing. There are no less 300 references to God and the divine in his Autobiography. And, it seems he purposefully went fishing into all kinds of things, with a penchant for the least commendable: phrenology, magnetism, spiritism, etc.2. Some even say he was a Freemason.3 Granted, calling the Creator the Master Architect was a little conspicuous. Others claim he was acupuncturist4. Thank goodness that Moon and Hubbard were not around in Still’s time. For he would have been quite capable of delving into unificationism and scientology… And as for Sutherland, he wasn’t much better. Also frequently speaking of the Bible and the Creator. And inventing and speaking of inconceivable things like “Liquid Light”, “transmutation” or “Breath of Life”. What are we supposed to do with all this in our day and age? Littlejohn remains the most inconspicuous - at least in his writing (I sometimes wonder whether John Wernham had anything to do with this).
Certainly, our detractors are by no means gentle. For example, in his book Les charlatans de la santé/Healing or Stealing? Medical Charlatans in the New Age5 psychiatrist Jean-Marie Abgrall labels most non-official practices, including osteopathy, as “patamedicine” - a substitute term for charlatanism - and is quick to call patients who turn to such practices “ecstatic fools (English translation)”6 Given the number of people using these practices, it would seem that world is truly full of stammering idiots. Thank goodness for psychiatrists… In the face of such arrogance, it is obviously tempting to “keep a low profile” and to refrain from saying or showing anything which might irritate authorities. Which is exactly the strategy adopted by our professional organizations in their presentation brochures. Most of the time, the origin of osteopathy is not brought up, and obviously neither are Still, Sutherland or Littlejohn. And how about the schools that are supposed to be teaching osteopathy? In postgraduate seminars, I often ask students who are reaching the end of their studies: “Who has read Autobiography?” “Who has read Philosophy of Osteopathy?” “Who knows how Sutherland developed the cranial concept?”. Each time, I am bewildered to see how few hands are raised, if any…
Why are osteopaths trying so hard to break away from their roots, on the more or less (most often less) acknowledged grounds that these roots are not presentable? Have we become so small that we can no longer discern our masters’ greatness? So small that we are ashamed of them? That we no longer dare to speak of them, and instead ignore them, lacking the courage to stand up for who we are and what our practice is based upon? Yet, when we look at how our Elders behaved, we see something quite different: they had the courage to stand up for who they were and what they thought, accepting no compromise when it came to what they considered essential: their philosophy. Is there any other way to be than the way we truly are? This is called integrity, and please notice that I did not use the words “integrism’ or “integralism” (“intégrisme” in French). And besides, what do we have to counter our detractors with if not the philosophy upon which osteopathy is based? Osteopaths spend vast amounts of time and energy not being what they are and appearing to be what they are not. Which brings to my mind something Still wrote: “You need not fear our enemies who have contested any advancement we have undertaken. […]. They cannot harm us, their kicks are only blessing in disguise. Our great danger, in fact the only danger that could threaten the future of osteopathy, are the mistakes of those who profess to be our friends.” 7.