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Preface to Bonesetting,
Chiropractic, and Cultism

©1963, Samuel Homola, D.C.

For a little more than 68 years now, the controversy between medical science and chiropractic has raged loudly and unceasingly. Notwithstanding, chiropractic has managed to survive as a dual method of healing in direct competition with medical practice, in a manner unprecedented in the annals of medical history.

Completely separated from the main stream of science and education, chiropractic continues to maintain that most of man's ills are caused by misaligned vertebrae, a contention that has been taken to task many times by leading and more qualified medical authorities. Regardless, chiropractic has retained enough popularity among lay portions of the public to be called the "2nd largest healing profession" by some and "America's largest healing cult" by others.

In any event, the fact that chiropractic proposes to treat human disease by spinal manipulation, in direct competition with medical treatment methods, does indeed indicate a need for a complete and detailed study of the situation, especially since there are thousands of uninformed persons who routinely submit their ills and infirmities, whatever they might be, to the care of chiropractors and other spinal manipulators.

From a study of the literature on both sides, the author has made what he feels to be an unbiased study of the problem of chiropractic, and has drawn the only conclusions possible after a consideration of all the facts.

Bringing the reader up-to-date on other problems besetting present-day medical care, Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism traces the origin and parallel development of manipulation in both medical practice and chiropractic, leading up to a detailed description of the cultism found in the use of "bonesetting" (as well as an exposé on the quackery and cultism found in related methods of healing, such as naturopathy).

Much of the work contained under the cover of this book is personal opinion, correlated with the opinions of others, of the chiropractic profession through the years and up to the year of this writing. Whether the profession actually elevates or declines in time to come will, of course, be determined in the course of future events. In drawing conclusions similar to the author, however, at least one other study of chiropractic -- a statistical study released by the Stanford Research Institute in 1960 -- has predicted "the general continued decline of chiropractic as a profession in its present form." [1]

Disregarding any one opinion of the practice of chiropractic, it would be enough to consider excerpts from current chiropractic and medical literature in sustaining arguments that are both favorable and unfavorable to certain phases of chiropractic treatment and the use of manipulation. As a critique, this study has drawn extensively from both medical and chiropractic publications, making it possible for the reader to weigh the facts for himself.

Although this work is not intended to prove or disprove the values or alleged values of spinal manipulation in various types of human ailments, it is designed to illustrate that, whatever the values of spinal manipulation might be, the present-day "chiropractic physician," under the guidance of what is apparently an obsolete doctrine, is not yet qualified to treat disease in competition with medical practice as a whole. Yet, as we shall see, many chiropractors have no desire to limit their practice to the treatment of certain mechanical or mechanically-related conditions but rather continue to exercise a general practice as "drugless physicians." This seems to be the case in spite of the limitations placed upon chiropractic by science and by doctrine.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of value to be found in the correct use of spinal manipulation (according to the proper indications), much of which has long been recognized by medical science but little used in medical practice. Discussion of the merits and the fallacies surrounding the use of spinal manipulation -- as it has been used by groups both in past and present times - - will reveal much of the basis of the disagreement between medical science and chiropractic.

There are undoubtedly many good chiropractors who limit their practice to mechanical treatment of the spine according to the guides of medical science, thus filling a need not yet filled by medical practitioners. However, since chiropractic is basically defined as a method of treating disease, and since chiropractors are licensed in each state as "drugless physicians" in the treatment of such disease, the author has limited this work to a study of chiropractic in its fundamental and popular definition.


1. Chiropractic in California. Los Angeles: Stanford Research Institute and the Hayes Foundation, 1960.

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