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J Martin Littlejohn (1865-1947) and James Buchan Littlejohn (1868-1947): Two distinct directions - Osteopathy and the birth of Osteopathic Medicine

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J Martin Littlejohn bestrides osteopathic history especially in Chicago, Illinois, USA and in Europe. This article re-addresses much that has been written. His brother, James Buchan Littlejohn has never been acknowledged as an equal partner in formulating coherent principles, meanwhile James developed a lucid direction for US osteopathy against vitriolic osteopathic pressure. Although James’s distinct vision has never been recognised, he laid out a blue print for osteopathy to evolve into osteopathic medicine. His path was protecting major surgery as an integral subject within the core curriculum of Kirksville and Chicago and later, introduction of materia medica into the Chicago course as a prelude to opting for prescribing drugs. An irretrievable falling out between the two brothers meant that J Martin Littlejohn never stated James’s valuable contribution in his writings. This paper reasserts the dangers of hagiographical approach in placing osteopathic pioneers on a pedestal, divorced from a social historical context. Much of their cherished ideas were those attributed to or co-authored by others, unmentioned persons like James Buchan Littlejohn. Both brothers represent distinct paths for the profession’s development: James’s in the vanguard of those advocating its place within mainstream medicine and academia; JML’s located within Protestant non-conformism, a metaphysical component and complementary medicine. Importantly, their Littlejohn College ideals envisaged broader causative factors than the spinal lesion to dysfunction which were rejected outright by the profession. Whereas James’s reputation was enhanced and JML’s declined, under considerable duress from external institutions neither brother could sustain their working or personal relationship.

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Overcoming suspicion, ridicule, and outright opposition from the American Medical Association, the osteopathic medical profession today serves the health needs of more than thirty million Americans. The DOs chronicles the development of this controversial medical movement from the nineteenth century to the present. Historian Norman Gevitz describes the philosophy and practice of osteopathy, as well as its impact on medical care. From the theories underlying the use of spinal manipulation developed by osteopathy's founder, Andrew Taylor Still, Gevitz traces the movement's early success, despite attacks from the orthodox medical community, and details the internal struggles to broaden osteopathy's scope to include the full range of pharmaceuticals and surgery. He also recounts the efforts of osteopathic colleges to achieve parity with institutions granting M.D. degrees and looks at the continuing effort by osteopathic physicians and surgeons to achieve greater recognition and visibility. In print continuously since 1982, The DOs has now been thoroughly updated and expanded to include two new chapters addressing recent and current challenges and to bring the history of the profession up to the beginning of the new millennium. © 2004 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.
Article
This book upholds that underlying all unorthodox medical systems is a characteristically American strain of religious thought which states that spiritual, physical and economic well-being flow from the individual's connection with the cosmos. After a survey of the earliest nineteenth-century health reforms, including hydropathy, homeopathy and Thomsonianism (which held that all disease was caused by cold and could be cured by heat), Fuller turns to mesmerism and Swedenborgianism. These two movements he argues were key representatives of an extraordinary metaphysical flowering that took place in America between the 1830s and the Civil War. He then goes on to demonstrate that virtually all subsequent health care enthusiasms can be shown to relate to or stem from seminal movements. The final chapter raises the question of whether it is the religious element in these groups that makes them effective healing forces. Fuller's conclusion is that such groups and practices supply a perception of "sacred reality" and contact with a higher power in a way that organized religions have failed to do.
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