is only in its infancy, it is a great
unknown sea à and as yet we are only
acquainted with its shore-tide.1
By VIOLA M. FRYMANN, D.O.
A.T. Still wrote these words 80 years ago, yet they are almost as true
today as they were then. The mechanical principles on which osteopathy
is based are as old as the universe,2 but they tend to be displaced by
more spectacular modern concepts based on man-made machines of diagnosis
Osteopathy embraces all that is encompassed by the word "life the
tangible and the intangible, the visible, the microscopic, the ultramicroscopic,
and the invisible, the here and the hereafter, man and his Creator. But
unlike so much that has been written on philosophy, the philosophy of
osteopathy is eminently practical. It provides a plan of action for the
solution of human problems; it provides a purpose for life here and an
objective for the life that lies ahead. It recognizes that "principles
govern the universe.3 The law of cause and effect provides the explanation
for disease and health. Disease is the effect of a change in the parts
of the physical body. Disease in an abnormal body is just as natural as
is health when all parts are in place. Life and matter can be united,
and that union cannot continue with any hindrance to free and absolute
motion.4 Motion is the first and only evidence of life. We know life only
by the motion of material bodies.5 All motion is matter in action.6
Osteopathy is the law of mind, matter, and motion.7 A philosophic discussion
of this definition was developed and presented at the Kirksville College
of Osteopathic Medicine with some trepidation in 1972,8 but the enthusiastic
interest it evoked, particularly among the students and younger members
of the profession, has encouraged further research into its practical
application. As long ago as 1892, Still expressed the hope that "the
osteopath will take up the subject and travel a few miles farther toward
the fountain of this great source of knowledge and apply the results to
the relief and comfort of the afflicted.9
The basic principles of osteopathy will therefore be cited as they were
originally expressed and interpreted as the expanding concepts of today.
THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
Disease is the result of anatomical abnormalities followed by physiological
THE UNITY FUNCTION
The human body does not function in separate units but only as a harmonious
THE BODY PRODUCES ALL SUBSTANCES FOR FUNCTIONING IN HEALTH
The body constitutes the shop in which all substances pertaining
to the physical makeup are manufactured.17
THE BODY HAS THE POWER TO OVERCOME DISEASE
To make the sick well is no duty of the operator, but to adjust a part
or whole of the system that the rivers of life may flow in and irrigate
the famishing fields.20
CIRCULATION OF HEALTHY BLOOD IS FUNDAMENTAL TO WELL-BEING
The artery and its nerves must deliver constantly on time and in quantity
sufficient: the venous system and its nerves must perform their function
and allow no accumulations. These two demands are absolute.21
THE POTENCY OF THE CEREBROSPINAL FLUID
The cerebrospinal fluid is the highest known element that is contained
human body and unless the brain furnishes this fluid in abundance, a disabled
condition of the body will remain.22
THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
As the beautiful works of nature stand today, and in all times past, fully
able by the evidence it holds before the eye and mind of reason, that
all beings great and small come by the law of cause and effect, are we
not bound to work by the laws of cause, if we wish an effect?30
We must conclude that, man is a builder, guided by wisdom to the fullest
and most satisfactory proof that life is the essence of wisdom in action
in all nature, and man is life and mind without beginning of days or end
1. Still, A. T. Philosophy of Osteopathy. Reprinted by Academy of Applied
2. Still, A. T. Philosophy of Osteopathy. Reprinted by Academy of Applied
3. Ibid., p. 17.
4. Still, A. T. The Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy.
Kansas City, Mo.: Hudson-Kimberly, 1902, p. 250.
5. Ibid., p. 255.
6. Ibid., p. 256.
7. Still, A. T. Autobiography, Kirksville, Mo., 1987.
8. Frymann, V. M. Scott Memorial Lecture, 1972. The law of mind, matter
and motion. Yearbook of the American Academy of Osteopathy, 1973, pp.
9. Still, A. T. The Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy,
10. Still, A. T. Osteopathy Research and Practice, p. 10.
13. Truhler, R. E. Doctor A. T. Still in the Living. 1950, p. 140.
17. Still, A. T. Osteopathy Research and Practice. P. 49.
20. Truhler, R. E. Doctor A. T. Still in the Living. P. 69.
21. Still, A. T. Osteopathy Research and Practice, p. 175.
22. Still, A. T. Philosophy of Osteopathy, p. 39.
30. Still, A. T. Philosophy of Osteopathy, p. 22.
33. Still, A. T. The Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy,