Chapter 9 – Observation, baby!

You can’t get enough of Sam Cooke’s live performance of a medley of songs (Try A Little Tenderness / (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons / You Send Me), and you certainly can’t get enough of his perfectly mastered laughter. While talking with the public, he jokes about “observation, baby!”, and I thought that could be a great way to start my article. Turns out it was not such a good idea and now you don’t understand if you are still reading a blog about osteopathy.

So yeah, observation, baby! Scrolling on my Instagram feed, and reading osteopaths’ posts about osteopathy, I thought that maybe we were doing it all wrong. Just like how I mentioned last time osteopathy is out of place, today I have the feeling that osteopathy is topsy-turvy. Or maybe more inside-out. I don’t know exactly, but I just feel there’s something odd.

On the internet, I see osteopaths quoting medical books and authors about a lot of different things. I see complex words, I see tons of sentences that are not at all useful to what we can do as osteopaths. I read people quoting other people, but I don’t read no observation.

Typically, the osteopath will name an ailment, give the definition of the ailment as you can find it in a medical book, discuss the medical treatments, and sometimes add that osteopathy can help to decrease the side effects of the ailment. I see many things here, but osteopathy. And more importantly, I see no observation.

What I want to know is what you find for this patient. I am not very interested in getting some medical definitions. I want simple language and I want to know what you see, what you feel, and what you can do about it.

A bit as if someone tells you that they feel angry. When you ask them about what is anger, and how it feels, how surprised would you be if they opened a dictionary and gave you the definition of anger? How useful would that be?

Maybe what could be done is to take an Indian look at the patient, like A.T. Still used to say. “If I should give my opinion on some subject by telling in a nice scholarly manner what Edison, Franklin, Lincoln, and a thousand other witnesses have said, what court would listen to such testimony? Any judge would laugh and say, “Mr. Writer, please tell what you know in this case, if you know anything; if not, please retire. It’s what you know that the court wants from you, not what John Doe never knew.” says Still in the Journal of Osteopathy of May 1900.

So maybe, tell us what you know about your patient if you know anything. If not, please retire. And in order to know, observation, baby!







2 responses to “Chapter 9 – Observation, baby!”

  1. Christian avatar

    Very interesting thoughts, Jules.

    I listened these days to an osteopathic podcast. It was so strange to me that there was no single sentence about that what these osteopaths do feel in their own perception during treatment.

    I also remember talking with an osteopath 2 years ago. When I told him what I perceive while a “treatment” he gave me the advice that I should be better careful. It was nonsense to him.

    What was osteopathy for Still?
    It is well described by Ernest Tucker in “Reminiscences of A.T. Still”. Only some quotes which I like very much:” Still did not think by the book but by the moving event.”
    ” Still: If you treat cases according to what the book says, you will get the results that the book promises you; which is not much.”
    “The body itself shows you what to do what needs to be done; you treat what you find.”
    “Still exemplified a higher type of philosophy that thinks not of, but as, the thing it thinks about.”
    “Reason is not an operative faculty, but a SENSORY one.”
    “Put the mind en rapport with nature, with life, with what goes on there. It does enable the body to speak it’s piece, out of the subconsciousness; and when the body speaks it enables the ear of the mind to hear.”
    “The important thing is the instrument that is used. The instrument in this case is the mind. The mind of the student should be prepared as a part of the preparation for the medical course.”
    “Still did exemplify one very important mental quality: he made himself as if he were en rapport with the body he studied. He tried to be that bone … to feel its operation as a part of the great unity of action and of logic of life, that was the body.”
    “We see philosophy as a part of a greater whole. It is not a philosophic deduction, it is a clinical fact, a real experience.”

    I guess osteopathy is on the way to loose exact this quality of mind exemplified by Still. This quality of mind we find in reading his books. It was the major contribution of Still. My opinion.

    Bye, it is a pleasure to accompany you on you journey 😊☀️🌳.
    Greetings, Christian

    1. Jules avatar

      Since you mention the mind quite a lot, maybe you’d like to open the Journal of Osteopathy of August 1901, and read “Mind” by A.T. Still 🙂

      We are raised with the idea that senses are wrong, without realising that this is a philosophical point of view. I didn’t say it’s not a valid one or useful one, but still a point of view.

      In the case of the osteopaths you mention, depending on what they feel and how they were raised, they might not even know what to do with that. It’s often way easier to just avoid it. Plus, most people who talk about perceptions fall into the new age trap. Very difficult to take the middle way.

      Take care 😉

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