Osteopathic History and Philosophy

Osteopathy was founded in 1892 in the United States by a medical doctor who was disillusioned with the medical system of the time. Dr. Andrew Taylor Still believed that the medical system at the time was far too preoccupied with treating symptoms rather than the causes of disease. He had lost his wife and three of his children as he watched helplessly as the medical system of that day failed them. He devoted the next 30 years of his life to discovering a new way of looking at the medical world.

A.T. Still established some key tenets which became the guiding force behind osteopathy world-wide.

  • The body is a unit - everyone has a body, mind, and spirit.
  • The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
  • Structure affects function and vice versa.

Dr. Still was determined to consider all of a patient's systems and look for which one of them had broken down, irrelevant of where the symptoms were. For example, if someone had bad bronchitis - it could be from an infection - but why was this patient affected by the infection in the first place? He also believed that our bodies had mechanisms for self-healing. So rather than trying to do something instead of the body - we just need to remove the obstruction which is preventing the body from doing so. Finally, he believed that when the structure of our bodies is altered - it would also alter the function of the given area.

He encouraged all his students to pursue various areas of interest within the osteopathic sphere so long as these basic tenets were satisfied. Thus, over time the specialities of structural, cranial and visceral osteopathy developed. With today's advances in medical care we have been able to enhance what Dr. Still had started in his days, but we still try to keep true to his original concepts.

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