“The goal with your patients is to find the way to healthy function within the mechanism that they bring to you. Study the Life principle and come closer to understanding what I mean by the “Breath of Life.” To the digger who will take time to dream and the dreamer who will wake up and dig, the science of osteopathy will unfold into a magnitude equal to that of the heavens.”—William Garner Sutherland, DO
More Osteopathic Excerpts
William Garner Sutherland, DO
William Garner Sutherland, D.O. (1873–1954) was an American osteopathic physician and important figure in American osteopathic medicine. Several of his manual therapy techniques are still practiced today by practitioners of osteopathic medicine. Sutherland was the first osteopathic physician to conceptualize the cranial approach and teach it systematically. However, Sutherland acknowledged Andrew Taylor Still as the developer of all osteopathy, including the cranial approach. Sutherland was the first person to claim to feel a rhythmic shape change in the bones of the cranium. He later applied this movement to all body tissues and this movement as the agent of change in dysfunctional tissues. He later named this motion the body’s “Primary Respiration.”
The goal of an osteopathic treatment
The goal of an osteopathic treatment is to affect a more efficient interchange between all the fluids of the body and across all their tissue interfaces.
Have you ever had a thought strike you?
Have you ever had a thought strike you? I have told many times of the thought that struck me before I graduated from the American School of Osteopathy with the class of 1900. As I looked at a disarticulated mounted skull that belonged to Dr. Still, the detail in the articular surfaces of the sphenosquamous sutures caught my attention. I became impressed with the idea that this suture was a display of a design for motion…The thought that came to me, “beveled like the gills of a fish and indicating a primary respiratory mechanism,” not only struck me, it stayed with me. That is how I came to undertake a study intending to prove to myself that mobility between the cranial bones in the adult is impossible…There are many in the profession who are skeptical about this mobility. They are no more skeptical than I was in the beginning.
I gained the knowledge that included the Tide and something within that I call the “Breath of Life,” not the breath of air. I failed to prove that there was no mobility between the bones of the living human cranium at the sutures in the adult, but I had to dig for knowledge of articular mobility in the skull and for knowledge of the primary respiratory mechanism.
I do not consider this contribution of thought mine. I call it a guiding thought; and where it came from no one knows.
Osteopathy is a science
Osteopathy is a science with possibilities as great as the magnitude of the heavens. It is a science dealing with the natural forces of the body. We work as osteopaths with the traditional principle in mind that the tendency in the patient’s body is always toward the normal. There is much to discover in the science of osteopathy by working with the forces within that manifest the healing processes. These forces within the patient are greater than any blind force that can safely be brought to bear from without.
Breath of Life
The goal with your patients is to find the way to healthy function within the mechanism that they bring to you. Study the Life principle and come closer to understanding what I mean by the “Breath of Life.” To the digger who will take time to dream and the dreamer who will wake up and dig, the science of osteopathy will unfold into a magnitude equal to that of the heavens.
Rollin E. Becker, DO
If we want to understand this [physiological] mechanism
If we want to understand this [physiological] mechanism, we have to understand and feel how it functions in both a state of health and a state of illness. We have to learn through it; we must function as it functions; we must think as it thinks; and we have to experience it with our hands. We have to experience it in terms of its living function, understanding the way this body would act if it were in good health. We must not only explore symptoms; we have to look around, everywhere, across this living body, and find what it would like to be and how it would like to live.
I feel very strongly that we have the opportunity to go deeper into the study of stillness…. I am trying to bring into focus a way… of using the stillness objectively and subjectively in the diagnosis and treatment of our cases…. It is a treatment program in which health is related to a return to the freedom of interchange between body physiology and stillness.
Andrew Taylor Still, DO
As a physician practicing on the frontier of America in the 1800’s, Andrew Taylor Still discovered the science of osteopathy: a profound truth which dramatically advanced the practice of medicine. Dr. Still divorced himself from the toxic medicine of his day and pursued an approach to health and healing which honors the laws of nature: treating the body as a self-healing, self-regulating, comprehensive ecosystem. Through intense study of anatomy and the natural world, Dr. Still developed the science of osteopathy based on the interrelationship of anatomy (structure) with physiology (function). Dr. Still based medical practice on the body’s inherent ability to heal in tandem with the functional unity of the patient: both anatomically and from the perspective of the integration of mind, body and spirit. Patients were cured of all sorts of ailments from deadly infectious diseases (before the advent of antibiotics) to “incurable” lameness, to heart disease. This was and is a truly comprehensive system of health care. Still’s ideas met with great resistance from the medical profession at the time. His remarkable results, however, built Dr. Still an extraordinary reputation that attracted many students to study with him at his new American School of Osteopathy. Dr. Still’s brilliantly successful, hands-on work and insightful teaching at his new school ultimately led to the founding of the osteopathic medical profession.
What is osteopathy?
What is osteopathy? It is a scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology in the hands of a person of intelligence and skill, who can apply that knowledge to the use of man when sick or wounded by strains, shocks, falls, or mechanical derangement or injury of any kind to the body. An up-to-date osteopath must have a masterful knowledge of anatomy and physiology. He must have brains in osteopathic surgery, osteopathic obstetrics, and osteopathic practice, curing diseases by skillful readjustment of the parts of the body that have been deranged by strains, falls, or any other cause that may have removed even a minute nerve from the normal, although not more than the thousandth of an inch. He sees cause in a slight anatomical deviation for the beginning of disease. Osteopathy means a knowledge of the anatomy of the head, face, neck, thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and limbs, and a knowledge why health prevails in all cases of perfect normality of all parts of the body. Osteopathy means a studious application of the best mental talents at the command of the man or woman that would hold a place in the profession.
To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.
Nature is Health
Osteopathy is based on the perfection of Nature’s work.
[Osteopathy] walks hand-in-hand with nothing but nature’s laws, and for this reason alone it marks the most significant progress in the history of scientific research.
The Osteopath who succeeds best does so because he looks to Nature for knowledge and obeys her teaching.
To obtain good results, we must blend ourselves with and travel in harmony with Nature’s truths.
The Cerebrospinal Fluid
A thought strikes him that the cerebro-spinal fluid is one of the highest known elements that are contained in the body, and unless the brain furnishes this fluid in abundance, a disabled condition of the body will remain. He who is able to reason will see that this great river of life must be tapped and the withering field irrigated at once, or the harvest of health be forever lost.
The Brain and Lymphatics
The lymphatics are closely and universally connected with the spinal cord and all other nerves, and all drink from the waters of the brain.