Chapter 2 – Anatomy, anatomy, anatomy

“Do you know, Arthur, when a patient comes to me for examination and begins to talk to me about symptoms, how she suffers, and what her trouble is, I seldom observe the patient’s clothing. I never notice whether she is beautifully dressed and wears silks and diamonds or covered with homespun cloth. I am listening to her story, and while listening, I am seeing in my mind’s eye the combinations of systems which go to make up the whole of the body structure. I am concentrating on her story, trying to determine through the description given to me to structural alterations which have occurred to produce the symptoms described.

“I am seeing first the bony framework[…] I am seeing, especially, the positions of those bony parts […]Then I see the ligaments[…]Then I see the muscles[…] I am also seeing in my mind’s eye[…] I see its division into the cerebrospinal part[…]I further see the arterial system[…]Then I visualize the venous system…”

This is Andrew Taylor Still, discoverer of osteopathy, talking to Arthur G. Hildreth. You can find this part in Hildreth’s book, The Lengthening Shadow of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, page 185.

Now, dear unknown friend, let me tell you what I do:

Do you know, dear unknown reader, when a patient comes to me for examination and begins to talk to me about symptoms, how she suffers, and what her trouble is, I seldom observe the patient’s clothing. Just enough to tell that she doesn’t know which color she should be wearing. I am listening to her story, and while listening, I am feeling the combinations of systems which go to make up the whole of the body structure. I am concentrating on her story, trying to determine through the description given to me the structural alterations that have occurred to produce the symptoms described.

I might, for example, feel a hip as being heavy. The more she talks, the more the sensation will become precise and clear. After a while, I would even have a perception of a hip that is pulled out of its socket. If I am not careful, I would say that I feel it “in my body”, but that’s not the case. I never feel in my body, but I always perceive. It’s no-where. I am not an observer of the world outside of me. I am in the world. I am the world.

It’s a participative process that continues when I examine my patient. I don’t run tests, I experience. And finally, I touch. Not to perceive, but because I perceive. And when I do so, treatment is easy. If I cannot perceive the lesion, I am blind.

I would probably perceive the ligaments, the muscles, the CSF, the arterial system, etc. if only I had been able to make those subjects to my mind beings of life. Surely this should give people an idea about how to learn anatomy.

Love,
Jules


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  1. […] when Still talked to Hildreth, he says he doesn’t look at the matchsticks. He is experiencing the “how” while […]

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