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Heirs to Still
I began my osteopathic training in 1971. However, it was only in the second half of the 1990s that I truly encountered Still, upon reading (or more accurately, attempting to read), and then translating Autobiography and Philosophy of Osteopathy.
The encounter came as a great shock. Based upon what I had heard from others (and remembered) about Still, I was expecting to be bored stiff by seriously outdated ideas and theories. Yet, though his writings are admittedly dated and hard to read (Still was arguably not a great scholar), the breath and spirit of osteopathy, as Still understood, embodied and wanted to share it, overflows from each page. And as I came to this realization, it dawned on me that since the beginning of osteopathy’s development in France, we were cut off from its roots, and were therefore receiving and transmitting an “inanimate” form of osteopathy.
This disconnection was significantly exacerbated by the hunger for recognition that drove many osteopaths to both adopt a “scientific” approach, in order to please and be acknowledged by the powers that be, and seek to minimize other (no less essential) aspects of osteopathy, in particular its philosophical, not to say spiritual aspects. And please note here that I say spiritual and not religious, as these are two very different things.
From this time on, it became my fervent desire to help those who so wished (this cannot be imposed) connect back to the origin of osteopathy. It is this desire that drove me to join the Académie d’Ostéopathie de France in 1998, to translate Still’s texts and to co-create the Apostill Journal, the first six issues of which were dedicated to reviving this connection.
Unfortunately, the limited interest and support that this endeavor garnered from governing bodies ultimately prompted me step down from these duties, in order to follow my strongest conviction with my own resources. Helping bridge the connection back to the origin of osteopathy is also one of this website’s main objectives.
Where I come from, the day garbage collectors pick up all the items that are too large for standard garbage bins, and that people leave out on pavement for good riddance, is called the bulky - or bothersome - waste collection day1. What has this got to do with osteopathy, I hear you ask? Well, dear Reader, there are things that osteopaths find bothersome too. And these include people such as Still, Sutherland and, to a lesser degree, Littlejohn and a few others. And why, good God, have Still and Sutherland become a cause of bother?
There are, no doubt, a range of reasons. However, the end result of them all is that we now no longer wish to profess, or even display, this lineage. For many years, our Elders did not bother us: they were inaccessible. Their books were hard to come by, and written in English to boot. Their writings were used to further whatever cause needed to be served at the time, most of the time through the use of quotes. And, these quotes were generally taken from the first few pages, often modified and almost never referenced. Or else, they were taken from the writings of other American authors… Therefore words could be tailored to fit the objective. Our Elders were useful, and did not bother us. True paradise.