Osteopathy. The New Science of Healing by Elmer DeVergne Barber

The first volume ever written on osteopathy, with the declared intent of divulging the possibility to cure many disorders to everybody, even to those with a superficial knowledge of the new discipline.

Publisher: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co, Kansas City, MO (USA)

Year of publication: 1896

Number of pages: 170

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Barber, who graduated in March 1895 at the ASO of Kirksville, had opened the National School of Osteopathy in which he taught an approach to osteopathy radically different from the one supported by A.T.Still

This volume is based on Barber’s notes, taken in the two years of course at the ASO. Despite recognising the merit of having discovered osteopathy to Still, at pages 11 and 12 Barber specifies that the master was wrong, as the disorders are not caused by the “dislocated bones” but by the “contracted muscles”.

Because his intent was to reach a wide public, Barber chose a simple and understandable language, avoiding medical and anatomical vocabulary and attributing to himself the merit of disclosing the new science to the world, in all its greatness, simplicity and truth. He maintained that anyone, even without any type of training, could have used his book, which he had enriched  with numerous explanatory illustrations especially for this purpose, to cure themselves, their family and other people.

The volume opens with the analytical index and a glossary. The index is a list of pathologies, for any of which, he describes the symptoms and the most appropriate treatment. At the beginning of the volume some paragraphs are dedicated to a simple explanation of osteopathy and the techniques used to apply it. 

In the last three pages of the book the benefits of osteopathy to shorten time of labor and soothe pain during childbirth are described, followed by a listing of the bones composing the human skeleton.

The orthodox physicians sued this book and the following more substantial one published by the same author in 1898, Osteopathy Complete, as a proof that osteopathy was a charlatan’s practice.1

 

Strengths: brief book of great historical interest, featuring an initial index which facilitates its consultation.

Weaknesses: certainly founded on the original teachings of A.T. Still, but as interpreted by Barber in a simplistic manner and in a perspective different from the one of its founder.

  1. Gevitz, N. “The ‘Doctor of Osteopathy’: Expanding the Scope of Practice”. JAOA, March 2014, v. 114, n. 3: 201ss

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Osteopathy Research and Practice by Andrew Taylor Still

The fourth book of A.T. Still, written at the age of 82 years, enunciates the principles and the practical maneuvers of osteopathy in reference to the single pathologies, classified by body regions.

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