The Institute of Classical Osteopathy of which both Philip and Emlyn belong to has a quote form its web site from Professor Irvin Korr, to the British osteopathic community in 1996 at the Commonwealth Institute London:
“I remind you further of another principle. You do not treat symptoms, you do not treat pain, you do not treat diseases, you do not treat parts of the body, you do not treat the musculo-skeletal system; you treat persons, you treat human beings. It is they who get well or not depending on the competence of their built-in health care system. I would like to hear you saying this more and more, that you are treating more than a musculo-skeletal system.”
The overriding principle of classical osteopathy is therefore not bony adjustment, but body adjustment. This historically relevant philosophy is what makes classical osteopathy distinct. And it is this philosophy which is the centre of Classical Osteopathic Medicine and what “we do” at The Osteopathic House.
Classical osteopathy is a system of healing which was formulated over a hundred years ago by AT Still and then further interpreted by JM Littlejohn. It encompasses the Hippocratic concept of Vis Medicatrix Naturae, ‘the healing power of nature’, where the body is seen not as a machine, but as a vital living organism with a normal tendency towards self-healing, elimination and health. The development of disease depends on any factors which lowers the vital force or the vitalising processes of the patient and compromises the organism’s ability to recover. It follows therefore that the osteopathic lesion is not a bony lesion, but a physiological one and that any disease or disturbance must be addressed through physiological processes.
This approach of health promotion is directly in contrast to orthodox medicine, which delivers a more linear/ pathogenic approach to treatment of disease and its symptoms via the use of pharmaceuticals. In osteopathy, health is not merely viewed as an absence of disease, but as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. The osteopathic therapeutic concern is therefore to adjust the body’s capacity to deal with environmental stressors, whether these be on a mento-emotional, physical or biochemical level.
This process was termed simply as ‘Adjustment’ by JM Littlejohn and implies perfect structural adjustment, including bones, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels etc. , perfect neurological adjustment and adjustment of the individual to their environment by considering factors such as diet, hydration level, sanitation, social interactions, stress levels, sleep pattern and so on.