Wee blog of a human being working as an osteopath

Chapter 14 – The difference between osteopathy and craniosacral therapy – Part 1

This is an article that will probably annoy 90% of people who will read it. Or at least that’s my hope! So I have to warn you, my dear unknown reader, that this is my current view on the matter. It doesn’t mean I am wrong right, and it doesn’t mean I used to think this way a few months ago. Hence, I might think otherwise in a few months too.

Why will it bother people? Because I will explain to you why I think what Still used to do is very specific and why I think Sutherland’s work is not osteopathy anymore. Yeah I know, this pisses you off. But please know that I don’t give an F my fragile little osteopath.

Still and the body as the very first object

So for months now, I have been reading Still’s books and everything I could find about our dear Drew. For those who are not osteopaths, remember that Still founded osteopathy in 1874. I have also been reading quite a lot about the philosophical context of the 19th century, about evolution (Spencer and Darwin for example), etc. My goal was/is to understand a bit better what Still was doing.

I will not give you a definition of osteopathy, but I will give you what I believe cannot be denied: Still had a vision. Not a magical one. Nothing fancy. Just an idea. I believe he came to the realisation that nobody was looking at the human body.

I am not trying to discuss whether he was right or wrong. I am just sharing what I understand and I am trying to make it easy for you. Basically, and especially nowadays, every time something happens to us, we are looking for an external cause. A virus, stress, a situation, etc. And we treat our ailments accordingly. I think that Still looked at the situation from another angle. I think his idea is about the ground, and about the very first object we experience: the body.

I have recently shared a story about a patient who’s experienced back pain for years. A very precise pain, that tends to spread between the ribs at a very specific level. After years, the patient started to experience gastritis. Looking for an external cause, doctors found a bacteria in their stomach, never wondering about the very first object, the ground, that we call a body. What I found very interesting is that the patient insisted on the fact that every episode of gastritis started from the back, spread to the ribs, and then the stomach. When I mentioned all that to the doctor, they told me that they never thought about it that way. For them, it was only the bacteria that was responsible for the back pain. If they were even related.

Of course, I am taking a lot of shortcuts here because Still was a complex man, and medicine back in time wasn’t the same. But I believe there’s really something about that: we are constantly skipping the very first object we encounter: the body. On a side note, bringing the body to its rightful place by not bypassing it is really what I teach when I meditate with patients/osteopaths/craniosacral therapists.

jules Rampal Painting
I painted that and my mom likes it so I share it here because it’s my blog.
Body as a machine

Oulala, how do I dare say that? Relax biodynamic bro, I can feel your sphincters getting all tensed up while reading those words! But we are talking about osteopathy, and that’s literally what Still was saying in almost every chapter of his books.

Now that we have stopped misplacing the body as being a secondary object influenced by the outer world, maybe we can start looking at it as a machine that produces effects.

Still is extremely clear in his view. Health is a consequence of a well-adjusted machine. If you obtain any other effect but health, it means that the machine needs to be adjusted. He is using the mind of an engineer, he wants us to reason on the machine. If your laundry machine stops functioning, and if you know how it is built (hello anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology…), you will use your reason to find out what is happening. And if you find an abnormal part, you won’t be surprised to find a machine that doesn’t work well.

Still applies this idea to the body. Again, I am not here to say if he is stupid, useless, or great. But that’s why he always talks about bringing from abnormal to normal, and about the position of the bones. Now, one of the risks would be to read it in a very mechanical way, because that’s how our brains are built these days: The body is a machine and the ankle pulls via the fascia all the way up to the jaw. I don’t even want to talk about all those models because it makes my chakras turn counterclockwise. Know that if you come and talk to me about tensegrity, I despise you.

How Still was doing it is another problem. What I want you to remember from this first part is that for Still, if something is abnormal/misplaced, it leads to symptoms. That’s why all of his techniques are about putting things back into place. They are not about increasing the range of movement, they are not about decreasing pain, they are not about balancing the tides, etc. He is using a fixed point and a lever so he can adjust the parts of the machine. For example, when treating a hip, he does not ground himself, connect to the energy of the universe, and talk to the cells of the hip about the event of the previous life that leads to a having some pain. Sorry to disappoint you, but he is using the leg as a lever and places the other hand on the hip to push the head of the femur back into its designated place.

Still tells us that when a patient is sick, there’s first and foremost a body. For a bacteria to be in a stomach, there must be a stomach hence we can’t just treat the bacteria without considering the stomach first and foremost. It doesn’t mean that you don’t treat the bacteria, but maybe this gives us another angle to approach things.

That’s also why I love to say that osteopathy cannot be patient-centered. The care is patient-centered of course, but osteopathy is osteopath-centered otherwise you are doing the exact opposite of what Still was doing: you are skipping the first object. You are skipping the osteopath.

Anyway, see you soon for part two.

Link to part 2







9 responses to “Chapter 14 – The difference between osteopathy and craniosacral therapy – Part 1”

  1. […] I can’t even see this is not the same job anymore. I can’t even see the difference between craniosacral therapy and osteopathy. […]

  2. […] The difference between osteopathy and craniosacral therapy – Part 1Jules Rampal […]

  3. […] Here we go, time to make some friends again.Previously on Jules Rampal’s blog, we talked about Still’s work to build the foundations that could allow us to understand a bit … […]

  4. Bcosteo avatar

    Thank you for this. These types of analysis need to be done at the risk of becoming as non health focused as the allopathic professions.

    1. Jules avatar

      Thanks for your message 🙂 You could be right. I don’t know how osteopathy should or should not evolve. I am mostly sharing some thoughts about that because I’ve been told for years that biodynamic osteopathy finds its roots in Still’s practice. I have always found it to be an odd idea. I guess most people don’t read Still, or they do but it’s easier to sell a training when you can pretend it’s anything like osteopathy. In its idea, osteopathy is a very specific method. It’s not any manual therapy. Again, I am talking about the idea. And in its idea, craniosacral therapy (and Sutherland’s work) is fundamentaly different from osteopathy. Personally I love both, but not for the same reason. More about that…when I have some time to write!

  5. Vinayak Dubey avatar
    Vinayak Dubey

    Need to know more about it.

    1. Jules avatar

      Part 2, soon 😉

  6. Preeti Tamang avatar
    Preeti Tamang

    1. Jules avatar

      thanks for reading 🙂

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