What was AT Still's mental state when he developed osteopathy?

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So I didn't know much about AT Still's life other than the fact that he invented OMM. But it got me thinking, then I started to research the fella. And I found this on wikipedia. It really goes to show you that the guy who invented OMM was probably in an odd mental state, and we should revisit the concept of OMM and DO schools teaching it so rigorously.


His initial method of studying the human body was controversial and disturbing. His personal account details that he would desecrate the graves of Native Americans by removing the remains for the purposes of dissection.[15]

Still adopted the ideas of spiritualism sometime around 1867, and it "held a prominent and lasting place in his thinking."[16]
 
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CoomassieBlue57

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“then I started to research the fella. And I found this on wikipedia”

There’s literally hundreds of books about him, and you choose to quote Wikipedia (which was probably written by a disgruntled medical student).

Obtaining bodies from grave sites was a common occurrence for medical professional at that time as well, so I don’t have a clue as to what you are inferring?

Is OMM and the philosophy perfect? Absolutely not, but it does have a purpose, and can successfully be used on patients.
 
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DO2015CA

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He was probably an odd fellow but I doubt mentally ill.
 
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Digging up bodies from graves is how we have an understanding of modern anatomy. Every anatomist in that era and before had to use that tactic because it actually used to be illegal to dissect a deceased human body. Physicians used to teach human anatomy based on findings from pig dissections.

Shameless plug here but if anyone is interested in a very interesting read into early medical practices and a key player in how human anatomy and modern surgery principles came to light I suggest the book Knife Man. *not related at all to osteopathy or really the thread topic lol

Back to the topic. As much as I hate osteopathy in its current form, I can easily see why it came about and why Still would do what he did. Medicine in those days simply wasn't good, often would harm (read: kill) more people than it would help. A less invasive philosophy based on putting the body in its correct functional place against that historical backdrop is actually pretty understandable. The biggest problem with it today is the old guard believe in what he taught as if it were some religious truth, instead of recognizing that modern medicine has outgrown his dogma and shown his practices to be scientifically wrong.
 
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Fat_Albert

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As much as I hate omm and talk shi* about it daily. none of us on this part of the forum would be able to practice medicine as physicians without it so for that I’m grateful. But still, f omm
 
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Goro

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So I didn't know much about AT Still's life other than the fact that he invented OMM. But it got me thinking, then I started to research the fella. And I found this on wikipedia. It really goes to show you that the guy who invented OMM was probably in an odd mental state, and we should revisit the concept of OMM and DO schools teaching it so rigorously.

His initial method of studying the human body was controversial and disturbing. His personal account details that he would desecrate the graves of Native Americans by removing the remains for the purposes of dissection.[15]

Still adopted the ideas of spiritualism sometime around 1867, and it "held a prominent and lasting place in his thinking."[16]
Stop trying to judge 19th Century people by 2020 standards. He lived in an age when germ theory was just getting started, modern pathology had yet to exist, many doctors still bled people with leaches, any fool could just go and apprentice with a doctor and then call himself "doctor" and "Medicine was very much an art based upon conjecture and improved by murder".
 
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Sardonix

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Weirdest guy in medicine is Paracelsus, one of the main proponents of alchemy in 1500s Europe. 100% whackadoodle who got run out of various German mining towns whenever they realized he wasn't an established physician and they questioned why he was giving people mercury as an emetic. Also he carried an executioners sword around with him and is seen in various portraits of him. Why? Stop asking questions and take your mercury, peasant.

He is also arguably the father of modern pharmacology given that he and his group of nutjob alchemists were the first people to counter "mainstream" medical thinking at the time and use chemicals as medicines instead of only herbs, natural remedies.
 
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calivianya

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We had a history of osteopathic medicine lecture for our first opp lecture (yes, it was terrible), but one thing that I remember learning was that either AT Still or someone else at the time noticed that when it came to sick patients, they were more likely to live if you left them alone than if you stuck leeches all over them and poured calomel down their throats.

When one of the most widely used medical treatments causes mercury poisoning, can you blame a guy for saying “eff this, I want to try something different?”
 
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I'm by no means a DO enthusiast - but OMT has its place and absolutely had it's place 200 years ago.

What was his mental state? Here's a guess:

Patient: "doc, I have this pain in my lower abdomen, and it burns when I pee"
AT Still: "Well, everyone around me is using mercury and leeches to treat this ****, but people seem to not get any better with that. I wonder if I should try something else. Maybe doing some abdominal massage will help this bloke feel better"

And such osteopathy was born, and until the era of modern medicine, had better results to go along with it*.

* - this is conjecture based on the fact medical literature is god awful until the modern medical era
 
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Mad Jack

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Grave robbing was an unfortunate and common practice in 19th century medicine, as donor bodies weren't really a thing. He was basically a guy who thought that using mercury and arsenic to treat tuberculosis and asthma maybe wasn't the best who did whatever he could to figure out a better way to not kill patients. When actual doctors are offering poison, manual medicine, even if placebo, will offer better results
 
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Neopolymath

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A dead clock is right twice a day.

The amazing thing is that his actions so long ago allowed you in 2020 to get ripped off to the last percentage point that makes it still a tolerable path to being a doctor. Now that's some straight god tier planning on his part to allow us to become physicians.

*Hits bong*
 
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Cornfed101

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Stop trying to judge 19th Century people by 2020 standards.

This is oddly even more applicable right now... don’t tear down AT Still statues because he dug up dead bodies
 
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nofliesonme

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You may want to check your medical history.......Herophilos is considered an excellent anatomists and was doing systemic dissections around 300BC....Henry Gray published Gray's Anatomy in 1858, he was not a grave robber and did his dissections ethically in St. George's Medical School Hospital in London.
 
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Kerosene Hat

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Still’s teachings definitely suffer from the “Seinfeld is Unfunny” effect, only with medical science instead of media.
 
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penpenclown

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Henry Gray published Gray's Anatomy in 1858, he was not a grave robber and did his dissections ethically in St. George's Medical School Hospital in London.
Well that's probably because of the Anatomy Act 1832 that was enacted in the U.K. after the Burke & Hare murders. Things were a bit different in the States.
 
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nofliesonme

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Yes you are correct, the Anatomy Act of 1832 made it easier for Gray to do his work. However, established medical schools on the European continent were doing cadaver dissections as early as the 12th century. England allowed cadaveric dissections with qualifications in the 16th
century. In the U.S. cadaveric dissections were being done at the University of Pennsylvania in 1745. Do the ends justify the means? Not in the case
of grave robbing. There were remedies available at the time to do or observe cadaveric dissections ethically.
 

bananafish94

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My limited knowledge of osteopathy is that it's complete pseudoscience, but that's not Still's fault, it's the people who continue to teach it today. Don't forget how truly recent modern, evidence-based medicine is. The placebo effect was not popularly described until 1799 and not really understood in scientific circles until much, much later. The oldest attendings that you work with today may have trained under physicians who practiced in an era before antibiotics were invented and we didn't know that DNA was genetic material. It's easy to look at it as nonsense today, but at the time it was probably a reasonable attempt at a method that was no worse than anything else people were suggesting.
 

nofliesonme

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DNA was first identified in the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miesche. The discovery of the first three antimicrobials, Salvarsan, Prontosil, and penicillin, began in 1899 (btw moldy bread was used by several ancient cultures including the Egyptians). I doubt that " the oldest attendings that you work with today may have trained under physicians who practiced in an era before antibiotics were invented and we didn't know that DNA was genetic material."
 

Sephirakra

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DNA was first identified in the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miesche. The discovery of the first three antimicrobials, Salvarsan, Prontosil, and penicillin, began in 1899 (btw moldy bread was used by several ancient cultures including the Egyptians). I doubt that " the oldest attendings that you work with today may have trained under physicians who practiced in an era before antibiotics were invented and we didn't know that DNA was genetic material."

Penicillins didn't hit the market until the 1940s, and it wasn't until the 1950s that DNA was confirmed to be genetic material. My old PI, who is still practicing, finished his residency in the early '70s, so he absolutely would have trained under attendings who practiced before those things were known/available.
 
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You shall know the Truth

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So I didn't know much about AT Still's life other than the fact that he invented OMM. But it got me thinking, then I started to research the fella. And I found this on wikipedia. It really goes to show you that the guy who invented OMM was probably in an odd mental state, and we should revisit the concept of OMM and DO schools teaching it so rigorously.


His initial method of studying the human body was controversial and disturbing. His personal account details that he would desecrate the graves of Native Americans by removing the remains for the purposes of dissection.[15]

Still adopted the ideas of spiritualism sometime around 1867, and it "held a prominent and lasting place in his thinking."[16]
What ever it was, he flung it to the wind!
 
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nofliesonme

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Penicillins didn't hit the market until the 1940s, and it wasn't until the 1950s that DNA was confirmed to be genetic material. My old PI, who is still practicing, finished his residency in the early '70s, so he absolutely would have trained under attendings who practiced before those things were known/available.
Shows that his attending, as you were not well versed in medical history.....DNA was described in the 1860's., Watson and Crick didn't "discover" DNA they described a 3 dimensional lattice like structure. Salvarsan was developed by Ehrlich in the early 1900's, Sulfonamides in the 1930's
 
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Sephirakra

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Shows that his attending, as you were not well versed in medical history.....DNA was described in the 1860's., Watson and Crick didn't "discover" DNA they described a 3 dimensional lattice like structure. Salvarsan was developed by Ehrlich in the early 1900's, Sulfonamides in the 1930's
No need to insult, especially when you're mistaken. Look up the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty and Hershey-Chase experiments. Just because DNA had been discovered didn't mean people knew its significance.

Salvarsan and neosalvarsan, yes, were developed in the 1910s, but they were also of limited use and quite toxic. Sulfa drugs came out in the '30s, so you're correct there. My mistake. But penicillin, as I said, didn't hit the market until 1942.
 
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nofliesonme

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No need to insult, especially when you're mistaken. Look up the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty and Hershey-Chase experiments. Just because DNA had been discovered didn't mean people knew its significance.

Salvarsan and neosalvarsan, yes, were developed in the 1910s, but they were also of limited use and quite toxic. Sulfa drugs came out in the '30s, so you're correct there. My mistake. But penicillin, as I said, didn't hit the market until 1942.
Excuse me, i didn't realize correcting errors with historical facts was disrespectful, nothing i said was incorrect. I stand by my statements the antibiotic properties of penicillin mold have been known for thousands of years. English physicians in the 1800's had isolated penicillin, and there were other antibiotics available before the 1940's and DNA was isolated in the 1860's. My point in this thread is that the grave robbing of Native American corpses was heinous and unnecessary since better anatomical information was already available (Gray's anatomy had been published, American universities were conducting dissections in the 1700's and European universities in the 1200's to say nothing of the excellent anatomical dissections by Michelangelo and Da Vinci). Physicians as scientists should be able to discard practices that have no value or are harmful. Additionally physicians should recognize that we stand on shoulders of giants and not disregard noteworthy advancements of the past/
 
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