Heirs to Still - Connecting to our Roots

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Connecting to our Roots

I feel it is essential, in these times of challenge for osteopathy, that each of us awaken or re-awaken our dormant osteopathic conscience and provide the most accurate information we can, so that we may each decide what type of osteopath we want to be, and which osteopathy we wish to practice and see recognized. Obviously, this cannot be achieved by getting rid of our predecessors, but by respecting them and seeking to understand the essence of their message in order to actualize it to the best of our abilities. In translating Still and seeking to give people a chance to discover his work, this is one of my key objectives. Translating and reading Still can bridge us back to our roots, and for a number of reasons, I feel this is essential at this time. As the founder of osteopathy, Still represents our shared origin. His philosophy is our essential common root, the root thanks to which all osteopaths, whatever their training, personality and/or practice, may find genuine agreement.

Transmitting osteopathy’s philosophy was one of Still’s major ongoing preoccupations. However, each time a concept is transmitted, it is modified, both by the person who transmits and by the person who receives. The more intermediaries come into play, the more a concept will be modified. And, this is a phenomenon which is seriously harming French osteopathy. When we refer back to the source of knowledge or to the source of a concept, we considerably reduce this hazard, as there is then only one modification for each person referring back. Here, translation may bring in an additional alteration, which I have, to the best of my abilities, tried to minimize. What is more, Still’s philosophy is profoundly naturalist, and deeply respects man and life. And, over the last century, human beings’ essential nature has not changed. Only our interpretations and explanations have changed, in light of the findings of science and medicine. Therefore, the osteopathic approach remains as actual and relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. And where is the osteopathic approach more faithful to Still’s understanding then in his writings?

Finding a Fulcrum

The recent turn of events relating to the publication of decrees regulating the profession, the restrictions imposed upon professional practice, the poor exigencies of osteopathic trainings, and finally the disturbing proliferation of schools, and, as a short-term result, of graduate practitioners, are all generating doubt and concern for our professional future and the future of osteopathy. If we leave it to politicians, professional organizations and school directors, we have every reason to be concerned: history demonstrates clearly that we can on no account rely upon them. Their interests are different to ours.

However, although osteopathy has been through many crises in different countries, it is still here. And this is quite simply because it continues to be practiced successfully by practitioners, whatever type of recognition they may (or may not) have. So, it is probably in the hands of osteopaths themselves that the future of osteopathy ultimately lies, and, despite what may often be alleged, it is their hands that it is the safest. If, of course, practitioners know and remain centered around their fulcrum: the philosophy of osteopathy.

Fulcrum This term is emblematic of osteopathy and signifies “bearing point”. A signification it clearly conveys. It evokes a stable and immobile center, from which, around which, things move. Power comes from the ability to maintain a stable point of support. Be it on the physical, mental or spiritual plane. Faced with the incomprehension and incompetence of those who purport to govern us, there is no point in complaining, in wielding banners or in howling slogans. It will serve us much better to remain centered around our fulcrum and to work, day in day out, from this fulcrum. This is not spectacular, not terribly gratifying for the ego, but particularly effective. Let us keep hope. There will always be practitioners who remain centered around their foundational fulcrum, Still and his philosophy. These practitioners both embody and tend to osteopathy, whilst respecting its philosophical foundations and ethic, thereby guaranteeing its effectiveness and therefore its perpetuation. To paraphrase Fryette, one of osteopathy’s great figures.
“Dare to be different. Many prefer orthodoxy to truth.”8

Translation: Naomi Walker