Jonathan Salem Baskin

Straightened Out

Today, a body got aligned.

All medicine starts with a theory, like our accepted practices of surgery, which are based on a theory of the body as a complicated machine that can be serviced. Or health depends on the mix of four bodily humors (earth, air, fire, and water). Maybe you have a series of power centers, or chakras, in a line from your head to between your legs, which are responsible for your bodily functions and emotional health, or your organs are connected to disparate locations on your body and can be accessed via super-fine needles. Another theory is that your levels of blood affect illness, requiring you to give up a few quarts to cure, say, the flu, and yet another posits that your cells remember diseases, and can therefore be prompted into defensive action with minuscule portions of substances in homeopathic sympathy. For that matter, your sinful thoughts can cause disease, and visions of recovery help you get better.

Daniel David Palmer came up with a theory that illness could be cured by the invisible waves emanating from magnets (magnetic healing). Palmer, formerly a grocery store owner, set himself up in business as a magnetic healer with an office in Davenport, Iowa. One of his patients had a lump on his spine and Palmer, on this day in 1895, found himself working to align the man’s back in hopes of alleviating his pain. It worked, and Palmer came up with the idea that nerve flow — as conducted through the spine –as the cause, and the cure, for all disease. He would go on to found the first chiropractic school two years later, and give birth to a somewhat mystical practice that remains in common use today.

The strange part is that sometimes it works.