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“When all parts of the human body are in line, we have perfect health.
When they are not, the effect is disease.
When the parts are readjusted, disease gives place to health.”
Andrew Still (1828-1917) — the founder of Osteopathy
“There is only one Osteopathy
and that only way is through the process of Integration.”
John Wernham (1907-2007)
The principal of Osteopathy of 'structure governs function' could be summarised by something like: ‘Get the structure right and everything else will follow.’ And this sounds very similar to the passage above, by Andrew Still, the founder of Osteopathy.
Osteopathy’s other principles involve seeing the body as an integral unit (and the process of integration, as John Wernham points out) where each part affects and is affected by every other part; together with seeing each individual as a unity of body, mind and spirit.
The body is also viewed as a self-healing, self-repairing mechanism, capable of making its own remedies against disease and other toxic conditions. This should be easily possible when a normal structural relationship exists within the body, and there are favourable environmental conditions, and adequate rest and nutrition.
“In order to cure the body
it is necessary to understand the whole of things.”
Hippocrates (400 BC)
John Martin Littlejohn — who brought Osteopathy to the UK in 1913, and studied with Osteopathy's founder, Andrew Still — please see the Osteopathy History page for more once wrote: ''The underlying principle as applied to Osteopathy is expressed in the word adjustment.'' (John Martin Littlejohn, Principles 1907.)
Much later, this theme of principles of Osteopathic treatment was taken up and elaborated by John Wernham, one of my own teachers. John Wernham studied with Littlejohn, and faithfully preserved his original osteopathic teaching, carefully editing and later publishing Littlejohn's practice journals, to preserve what has become know as Classical Osteopathy. This was all at a time (the end of the twentieth century) when Osteopathy was becoming increasingly medicalised and orthopaedic as it entered into mainstream healthcare. It was also a time when there was diversification of Osteopathy away from it's classical roots, and new streams emerging such as the Cranial Sacral model (from Sutherland, and later perhaps Updedger) and Visceral Osteopathy (from protagonists such as Jean Pierre Barral) We owe a great debt to John Wernham for preserving the original Osteopathy and staying true to Littlejohn's original teaching and Osteopathic principles. (Please scroll down to the end of this page, to read more on this, in the last passage, quoted from Wernham's book: Lectures on Osteopathy, Volume 1)
Irvin Korr, in his address to the British osteopathic community in 1996 at the Commonwealth Institute London, said:
"I remind you further of another principle. You do not treat symptoms, you do not treat pain, you do not treat diseases, you do not treat parts of the body, you do not treat the musculo-skeletal system; you treat persons, you treat human beings. It is they who get well or not depending on the competence of their built-in health care system. I would like to hear you saying this more and more, that you are treating more than a musculo-skeletal system."
From the book 'Lectures on Osteopathy', Volume One, by John Wernham (p.91):
"Like other disciplines we have our Principles, our Technique and our Practice and I would suggest that we should stick to these three great elements in our teaching. It would hardly be logical if the naturopaths, herbalists or homeopaths deserted their basic principles for those of some other teaching that was alien to their theories and clinical practice. If we do that then osteopathy is lost and there is considerable evidence to this effect. It has been recently that osteopathy is not an alternative but is complementary to orthodox medicine. This means, of course, that we are in the process of abandoning our independent theories and become subject to medical control with the result that we are limited to musculo-skeletal disorders and the true value of the work of Still and Littlejohn is set aside and thrust behind us as a mere relic of the past and only of interest to the medical historian. I think it was Churchill who once said that 'He who forgets his history has no future.' I am not so unreasonable nor so obstinate that I am unaware of the recent advances in osteopathic research and practice, but I remain doubtful as to whether such research and such practice represent an advance in our clinical standards. I would welcome your views on this difficult problem when I am done.
The work of this college is dedicated to the preservation of what is now described as 'Classical Osteopathy', that is a system of therapeutic treatment established and taught by J.M. Littlejohn…"
As I mentioned previously, the work of John Wernham was to preserve and teach the original osteopathy of Littlejohn (and Still). The 'college' mentioned, in the above passage, is the John Wernham college of Classical Osteopathy (in Maidstone, UK). I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to study there (after completing my BSc in Osteopathy at the London School of Osteopathy) whilst John Wernham was still teaching.
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