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Stress and Adaptation the Chiropractic Way


Written by Mark Postles for our 33 Principles Magazine, reprinted here.

I’m fascinated by the current state of our profession. It seems that there is a high level of stress and we are adapting to it in less than optimal ways. In many circles it appears that chiropractic is being reduced to a modality – an elective treatment approach among many other modalities that we may like to ‘try’ for a few visits. The notion that chiropractic is a short-term application of therapy for acute pain syndromes creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the true application of chiropractic is not given a chance to show itself.

We see students unsure of their career path within chiropractic. We see numerous contradictions in what the universities are teaching. We see many graduates unfit to practice and feeling resentful that they didn’t get the chiropractic education that they signed up for. We see regulators attempting to pigeonhole chiropractic into another profession’s paradigm.

When I speak to new graduates, academics and regulators of the profession they tell me there is no room for philosophy and the ‘fluffy’ feel good stuff. They say that we must be only applying care that has been proven to have the highest evidence, we must be intellectual, professional and keep our distance from our patients. They say that if we are to be accepted by the world then we must shift to this model and relinquish old ideas and practices including our lexicon and identity.

This state is driven by fear. Much of the fear is generated by outside sources that have a vested interest in containing chiropractic to a manageable modality. It is happily picked up by those who see that the way forward is to comply and give up any notions of value for chiropractic’s potential.

There is escalating pressure being applied to the chiropractic profession.

I contend that the state of chiropractic that we now have is NOT how it should and could be, but it will be this (and worse) if we continue to do what is currently being done.

1977 Nobel Prize winner, Ilya Prigogine comes to mind in this context. In his contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, with the theory of what he called “dissipative structures” he described that when energy into a closed system reaches a certain point the system pops to a new level and reforms in a totally different form, never to return to previous state like a kernel of corn when under heat and pressure will pop to a new form.

If the pressure is reduced the system stays the same as long as the pressure is managed.

It is my observation that under the stress that chiropractic has been enduring we have two choices and I think that we have opted for the first option, which I call SAD. We reduce the stress – pull our heads in and get Small, Apologetic and Diminutive. We get ourselves ready to fit into a little Allied Health subset and redefine ourselves as something like a physiopractor.

The second option requires a greater worldview and often we must look back to see ahead. Recently I had an inspiring experience when we conducted a meeting of a group of chiropractors who have been in practice for over 30 years. We got together for a weekend and shared our insights on our personal journey through this profession. It was so heartwarming to listen to chiropractors in their 80’s and 90’s relating what a joy and a privilege it is to give people chiropractic adjustments – nothing about acceptance by any authority – if you look after your people, they will look after you and your profession. The overwhelming message that each shared was that firstly, one’s philosophy guides and dictates what one does on a daily basis and secondly, we are here to serve, connect with and support our patients and practice members. It’s as simple as that.

This second option involves being disgusted with the status quo and getting what I call, MAD. (Massive Action with Determination). I believe that if we allow the stress to build up – and by that I mean by standing our ground in this noble profession – then we will create a dissipative pop and will assume a new level of capability.

Now, this doesn’t mean attacking those who are different. This massive determination is an inclusive action that drives to address the inequities that we have imposed upon ourselves in response to the stress we have been dealt. As we embrace the talent that lies in the differences that we bring to the profession we can proudly occupy a separate, distinct and highly essential service of life enhancement to humanity as a chiropractor.

I have always been intrigued with the way people create their model of the world. The results we have in our life, practice and indeed our profession is a result of how we use our brain (singular or collective) – as we know, the behaviors we do are a result of the thinking we do; and the thinking we do is a result of the order of sorting we do; and that is driven by our values, beliefs and worldview.

This process is also found in a profession. The philosophy or worldview that chiropractic has been founded and developed on is still bigger than that which the human race can comprehend. It is a big ideology and worthy of holding as a foundation. The metaphysical premises and hypotheses are observations of natural laws and serve as reference point for all of the actions that follow.

Our worldview defines our science.

Second, we must ensure that our science is driven by our philosophy. All science is driven by a question or a hypothesis. Chiropractic science should always be driven towards finding out why chiropractic works so well. Thinking that our science will bring us acceptance is flawed. We owe it to chiropractic to explore the science in a way that is congruent with our philosophy. Investing in science is imperative and that includes you digging deep and helping.

Our science supports our clinical application.

Third, we must be willing to connect with people and provide truly loving service. Give out of your abundance and be a conduit for the flow from above through your heart without any expectation of return. Be exquisite in your technique, be willing to put your clinical repertoire to the test and constantly improve your delivery.

Take the certainty gained from your practical experience to the world.

Fourth, we must speak our truth and tell the chiropractic story without fear or failure. It is a crime for the public to not have knowledge of what chiropractic can do for them. This involves putting our line in the sand.

Our clinical application gives power to our politics.

So, how do we adapt to stress?

Do we get SAD, take the pressure off and DEVOLVE


Do we get MAD, stand up, build the pressure, POP and EVOLVE?