Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Donor
20+ Year Member
Nov 21, 1998
Over the rainbow
Attending Physician
Excellent article on the phenomenology or "lived experience" of OMM by Elliot Gaines, PhD and Anthony Chila, DO. It's probably a little "out there" or abstract for the tastes of most medical students, but it does a nice job of summarizing the difficulty of translating palpatory experience into scientific language. Hopefully, some of you can use this article as a starting point for discussion at your COM's.



This article addresses two recurrent problems in osteopathic medical pedagogy. Questions about the scientific merits of osteopathic manipulative treatment and the search for consistent, effective teaching methods for OMT have been persistent in the discourse of osteopathic medical curriculum. While grounded on scientific principles, the philosophy of osteopathy in the words of A.T. Still, William G. Sutherland, and other prominent osteopathic scholars, advance concepts in metaphorical language that may seem obscure and dated to many of today's students. Evidence in the literature of osteopathic medicine supports the congruence of phenomenology with the philosophy and methods used to teach OMT. The philosophy of phenomenology offers an alternative paradigm to address questions of scientific merit, and could provide a consistent language to a rigorous, scientific approach to communication for OMT pedagogy. A solution is proposed for the tactical adaptation of a communication strategy based on an interpretion of osteopathic methodology and the philosophy of phenomenology.


Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2003
Melbourne, Australia
I began to read this article with great interest... which wained rapidly and ended in sheer disappointment.

Not only was it poorly written, badly referenced (who fails to reference quotations or even quotes themselves in a peer-reviewed journal?!), and it's 'proposal' thin, it failed dismally to convince me that 'phenomenology' addresses 'questions of scientific merit' re OMT.

It's not that I doubt the vaildity of the direct sensory experience in clinical medicine, but putting up another '-ology' as a substitute for scientific research struck me as a) nothing new (just new wanky academic words substituting for romantic 19th century ones) and b) just what the research-poor field of OMM does not need right now.

It was also maddeningly narrow in its focus on osteopathy... as if numerous other professions have nothing to offer in the way of the experience of teaching manual diagnosis and therapy.

It's good that you posted it David. I did pick up some interesting perspectives on the 'lived experience' of therapeutic touch (which I can relate to) and it made some interesting points here and there. Overall, however, it thoroughly disappointed me.

I learnt a lot about how not to communicate. And I have to say that if I were an osteopathic medical student, new to OMM and struggling with the pros and cons of its place in my future doctoring, I'd feel even less like using it after reading this article.

My two cents' worth.
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