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The biodynamic model of osteopathy in the cranial field


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This chapter concerns the philosophy underlying the Biodynamic model of osteopathy in the cranial field (BOCF). To do this we employ a Hegelian dialectic, a weave of BOCF principles with BOCF science, presented within an historical context. We will compare biomechanical OCF with Biodynamic OCF, or "left-brained versus right-brained cranial" as Fred Mitchell likes to quip. No treatment methods will be described here. Note that certain words in this article will be capitalized, indicating the usage of a defined BOCF meaning, not a standard dictionary sense. BOCF's legacy extends back to Hippocrates, as reflected in the Hippocratic Oath's axiom "do no harm," and its concern for our triune (body-mind-spirit) integrity. Threads of Paracelcus-style empiricism and Avicennian experimentalism colour the BOCF tapestry. The foundation of BOCF, however, is firmly grounded in the philosophy and practice of three osteopathic teacher-physicians, evolving from three lifetimes spent in general medical practice, working alongside the self-balancing, self-healing principles present in their patients. The first of these teacher-physicians is Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917), who founded osteopathy in 1874. Dr. Still sought "the Health" in his patients, which was always present no matter how sick his patients presented. This concept was fundamental to Still's hands-on approach to care. "I love my patients," he declared, "I see God in their faces and their form" (Still 1908). The physician's task, Still always reminded his students, was to remove with gentleness all perceived mechanical obstructions to the free-flowing rivers of life (blood, lymph, and cerebro-spinal fluid). Nature would then do the rest. Still formulated innovative concepts regarding the cranium, the cranial nerves, and he famously proclaimed, "the cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] is the highest known element that is contained in the human body" (Still 1899). His treatment techniques included gentle pressure on cranial bones, for example in the treatment of pterygium (Still 1910). The second of these teacher-physicians is William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954), who founded Osteopathy in the Cranial Field (OCF). Dr. Sutherland was a student of Still and became imbued with Still's thinking, methods, and practice. Sutherland formulated his first cranial hypothesis as a student in 1899 while examining a temporal bone from a disarticulated skull. The thought struck him that its edges were bevelled like the gills of a fish, as if part of a respiratory system. Sutherland's 1899 revelation initiated a life-long evolution of thought, described in subsequent sections of this chapter. The third teacher-physician is James S. Jealous (1943-) whose Biodynamic Model of OCF (BOCF) has attracted great interest and controversy within the profession. Jealous adapted the term Biodynamic from his study of the German embryologist Erich Blechschmidt, and not from the Swiss philosopher Rudolf Steiner, although Steiner's Biodynamic concepts resonate with BOCF principles. For over 30 years Dr. Jealous has compiled oral histories from Sutherland's students, and he continues to research Sutherland's writings (both published and unpublished). This "work with the elders" enabled Jealous to compile an authoritative chronology of Sutherland's journey. Thus BOCF dedicates itself to the perceptual odyssey where Sutherland left off at the end of his life.
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John M. McPartland, DO, MSc,
and Evelyn Skinner, DO, BA
The Tao that can be completely explained is not the Tao itself.”—
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
This chapter concerns the philosophy underlying the Biody-
namic model of osteopathy in the cranial field (BOCF). To do
this we employ a Hegelian dialectic, a weave of BOCF principles
with BOCF science, presented within an historical context.
We will compare biomechanical OCF with Biodynamic
OCF, or “left-brained versus right-brained cranial” as Fred
Mitchell likes to quip. No treatment methods will be described
here. Note that certain words in this article will be capitalized,
indicating the usage of a defined BOCF meaning, not a standard
dictionary sense.
BOCF’s legacy extends back to Hippocrates, as reflected in
the Hippocratic Oath’s axiom “do no harm,” and its concern for
our triune (body-mind-spirit) integrity. Threads of Paracelcus-
style empiricism and Avicennian experimentalism colour the
BOCF tapestry. The foundation of BOCF, however, is firmly
grounded in the philosophy and practice of three osteopathic
teacher-physicians, evolving from three lifetimes spent in gen-
eral medical practice, working alongside the self-balancing, self-
healing principles present in their patients.
The first of these teacher-physicians is Andrew Taylor Still
(1828-1917), who founded osteopathy in 1874. Dr. Still sought
“the Health” in his patients, which was always present no matter
how sick his patients presented. This concept was fundamental
to Still’s hands-on approach to care. “I love my patients,” he
declared, “I see God in their faces and their form” ( Still 1908).
The physician’s task, Still always reminded his students, was to
remove with gentleness all perceived mechanical obstructions to
the free-flowing rivers of life (blood, lymph, and cerebro-spinal
fluid). Nature would then do the rest. Still formulated innova-
tive concepts regarding the cranium, the cranial nerves, and he
famously proclaimed, “the cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] is the high-
est known element that is contained in the human body” ( Still
1899). His treatment techniques included gentle pressure on
cranial bones, for example in the treatment of pterygium ( Still
The second of these teacher-physicians is William Garner
Sutherland (1873-1954), who founded Osteopathy in the Cra-
nial Field (OCF). Dr. Sutherland was a student of Still and
became imbued with Still’s thinking, methods, and practice.
Sutherland formulated his first cranial hypothesis as a student in
1899 while examining a temporal bone from a disarticulated
skull. The thought struck him that its edges were bevelled like
the gills of a fish, as if part of a respiratory system. Sutherland’s
1899 revelation initiated a life-long evolution of thought, de-
scribed in subsequent sections of this chapter.
The third teacher-physician is James S. Jealous (1943-) whose
Biodynamic Model of OCF (BOCF) has attracted great interest
and controversy within the profession. Jealous adapted the term
Biodynamic from his study of the German embryologist Erich
Blechschmidt, and not from the Swiss philosopher Rudolf
Steiner, although Steiner’s Biodynamic concepts resonate with
BOCF principles. For over 30 years Dr. Jealous has compiled
oral histories from Sutherland’s students, and he continues to
research Sutherland’s writings (both published and unpub-
lished). This “work with the elders” enabled Jealous to compile
an authoritative chronology of Sutherland’s journey. Thus
BOCF dedicates itself to the perceptual odyssey where Suther-
land left off at the end of his life.
Still (1902) wrote, “. . .that life and matter can be united, and
that the union cannot continue with any hindrance to free and
absolute motion.” Still’s concepts, from the beginning, were
already beyond the capabilities of double-blind trials. What Still
saw and understood, and Sutherland came to refine in his later
writings, was the universal principle that the natural world is
constantly changing, and what is fixed (or without motion) be-
comes out of balance with its environment. Still considered
osteopathy a science, but when Still’s osteopathy extended be-
yond known science and rational explanation, he imparted his
lessons by using metaphorical language. A metaphor uses famil-
iar information to describe an unfamiliar idea. Metaphor pro-
vides a verbal bridge to gap the space between the speaker’s
intention and the listener’s interpretation ( Artaud 1938). This
transformational space, metaphorically speaking, characterizes
the learning space between teacher and student, the theatre
space between actor and audience, and the healing space be-
tween the practitioner and patient, where at a certain moment
during an exchange something greater than the sum of the parts
Metaphors, despite being inherently nonrational, have long
provided heuristic tools for approaching scientific problems
( Chew & Laubichler 2003). Western culture, however, has diffi-
culty grasping nonrational thought. The nonrational aspects of
osteopathy (and other alternative medical systems) are the most
1 School of Osteopathy, UNITEC, Auckland, New Zealand;
2 Department of Family Practice, College of Medicine, University of
Vermont, Burlington, Vermont; and
3 The Twig Centre, Wellington, New Zealand
Adapted and reprinted with permission from Cranial Osteopathy by Tor-
sten Liem and Cranial Manipulation by Leon Chaitow, both published
by Elsevier Health Sciences, 2004.
#Corresponding author. Address:
UNITEC, Health and Environmental Science, Private Bag 92025, Auck-
land 1650, New Zealand.
21EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1
difficult lessons to impart and the most difficult traditions to
maintain. The man-as-triune truths that lay behind Still’s oste-
opathy became the victims of medical reductionism, casualties
of our Western way of emphasising the intellectual and eschew-
ing the intuitive and instinctual. Reductionism limits our view of
reality and our faculty of awareness (sense of consciousness).
Alternative forms of consciousness, as expressed through
dreams, poetry, music, painting, or as found in cultures outside
the West, such as meditation or trance states, have remained
undeveloped in our society. Limiting our knowledge to what can
be proven in a reductionist experiment has consistently suc-
ceeded in excluding the human spirit from the Western medical
This lack of spirit has been a concern of BOCF practitioners,
who gained insight and inspiration from Laurens van der Post
(1962), “Man’s awareness since the Reformation has been so
narrowed that it has become almost entirely a rational process,
an intellectual process associated with the outside, the so-called
physical, objective world. The invisible realities are no longer
real. This narrowed awareness rejects all sorts of things that make
up the totality of the human spirit: intuition, instincts and feel-
ings, all the things to which natural man had access.” Van der
Post’s anthropological concepts have played an important role
in our understanding of health and disease in society.
Still no doubt acquired the skill of communicating symboli-
cally-rich language from his father, a Methodist Minister. Suth-
erland, like Still, was a practiced wordsmith, having worked as a
newspaper editor before training as an osteopath. Still’s and
Sutherland’s language reflected the intimacy of their connection
with the natural world. Still matured among the Shawnee and
other Native American peoples–primal cultures, in anthropolog-
ical terms. “In indigenous, oral cultures, nature itself is articulate;
it speaks. . . There is no element of the landscape that is defini-
tively void of expressive resonance and power. . .” ( Abram 1996).
Abram quotes a Native American healer, whose words resonate
with the writing of Dr. Still, “In the act of perception, I enter into
a sympathetic relation with the perceived, which is possible only
because neither my body nor the sensible exists outside the flux
of time, and so each has its own dynamism, its own pulsation
and style. Perception, in this sense, is an attunement or synchro-
nization between my own rhythms and the rhythms of the
things themselves, their own tones and textures.”
Still’s landscape was peopled by individuals who saw things
from a totally different cultural perspective. Highwater (1981)
wrote, “Though the dominant societies usually presume that
their vision represents the sole truth about the world, each soci-
ety (and often individuals within the same society) sees reality
uniquely.” Still’s and Sutherland’s unique cultural perspectives
have been revived by BOCF practitioners. BOCF initially
evolved in New England, a land imbued with the spirit of Ralph
Emerson and Henry Thoreau. These 19th century New England
philosophers believed that the study of Nature, or being out-of-
doors in the natural world, offered a cleansing of the mind and
spirit, and enhanced the journey of self-discovery.
At the time Sutherland (1939) first published his insights,
osteopathy was undergoing a period of reductionism. Most prac-
titioners focused on the mechanistic aspects of osteopathic prin-
ciples and practices. Sutherland’s OCF represented a Renais-
sance of Still’s osteopathy. But by the time of Sutherland’s death
in 1954, the OCF Renaissance itself entered a Reformational
period, a reclaiming of the rational. Reformational OCF and its
basic texts ( Magoun 1976, Upledger & Vredevoogd 1983) have
been embraced by many osteopaths as well as massage thera-
pists, physical therapists, and chiropractors. But Sutherland’s
original Renaissance has carried on, under the aegis of his osteo-
pathic students including Paul Kimberly, Anne Wales, Ruby
Day, Rollin Becker, and Robert Fulford ( Cardy 2004).
As OCF has led to BOCF, the use of metaphor has led to the
use of archetype. Whereas a metaphor is a figure of speech used
to suggest a resemblance, an archetype is a term used to describe
a universal symbol that evokes deep and sometimes unconscious
responses in a reader or listener. Archetypes symbolically em-
body basic human experiences and their meaning is instinctually
and intuitively understood. Jealous’s concept of “the embryo” as
ever present in the living organism is a key BOCF archetype. When
studying the writings of the embryologist Blechschmidt (de-
scribed below), Jealous was impressed by Blechschmidt’s conclu-
sion that embryonic function (fluid motion) creates form and
precedes structure. Jealous (2001) intuited from Blechschmidt’s
reports that the embryologist must have witnessed the organisa-
tional forces of primary respiration at work, without the palpa-
tory confirmation, given the reverence with which Blechschmidt
& Gasser (1978) wrote, “The originality of embryonic human
beings is discernible in many ways; for example, the early human
conceptus is master of the whole geometry that it applies to
itself. It is never mistaken about any angular sum, and it is never
deceived in any surface to volume ration. It never sets an inter-
secting point on the wrong site and is master of every physical as
well as chemical reaction.”
The embryo, as an archetype of perfect form, serves as a blue-
print for our body’s ability to heal itself. The formative, resorba-
tive, and regenerative fluid forces that organize embryological
development are present throughout our life span, ready for our
cooperation in harnessing their therapeutic potency. In other
words, the forces of embryogenesis become the forces of healing
after birth.
Among BOCF practitioners, every event within the thera-
peutic arena has a name. Nothing is referred to vaguely in
terms of “energy.” The importance of naming is shared by
primal cultures worldwide, notably the Bushmen of the Kala-
hari ( van der Post 1961). According to the Bushman, an indi-
vidual’s separation from that part of themselves that is con-
nected to “everything else” leads to fear and a sense of
aloneness, and this facilitates the disease process. Because
treatment using the BOCF connects the patient to nature, the
patient receives an immediate experience of “not-aloneness”
or “belonging” in a deep way. Patients gain a physical sense of
“community,” possibly for the first time in their life. As Wen-
dell Berry (1996) emphasized, “The community is the small-
est unit of health.”
In the next three sections of this article, we review OCF’s
and BOCF’s evolution of thought, evolution of perceptual
skills, and evolution of treatment approaches–from the Bones
to the Dura to the CSF to the Fluid Body. See Figure 1 for a
22 EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1 Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy
From his student days until the late 1920s, Sutherland concen-
trated on cranial bones, their sutures, and foraminae. Sutherland
proposed that cranial sutures remain mobile throughout a per-
son’s life. His hands-on insights predicted what is now known
through histological studies–that most cranial sutures never
completely ossify ( Retzlaff & Mitchell 1987). Living sutures con-
tain connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. They maintain
articular function and serve as crossroads of metabolic motion
and somatic information. Sutherland’s deductive observations
were confirmed by research completed by his osteopathic con-
temporary, Charlotte Weaver. She conducted fetal dissections
that led her to regard the bones of the cranium as modified
vertebrae ( Weaver 1936a, 1936b). The sphenobasilar symphysis
is embryologically homologous to an intervertebral disc, it is
plastic and capable of motion ( Weaver 1938). Thus Weaver
proved true the insights Goethe had in 1790, that the bones of
the cranium are metamorphized vertebrae ( Rohen 2002).
In the early 1930s Sutherland shifted his emphasis to the dura
and its bilaminar infoldings that form the falx and the tento-
rium, collectively known as the reciprocal tension membrane,
which balances motion within the skull. Sutherland accessed the
dura by gently gripping the cranium. The external periosteum is
contiguous with the internal dura. Sutherland visualized one
continuous web of connective tissue, from the cranium down to
the sacrum, which he characterized as the tadpole-shaped “core
In the middle 1930s Sutherland shifted his focus to the fluctua-
tion of CSF, driven by what he termed the Primary Respiratory
Mechanism (PRM). He postulated that the PRM consists of five
phenomenae ( Magoun 1976):
the inherent motility of the brain and the spinal cord;
fluctuation of the CSF;
motility of the intracranial and intraspinal membranes;
articular mobility of the bones of the cranium; and
involuntary mobility of the sacrum between the ilia.
Sutherland described CSF circulating down and around the
spinal chord in a rhythmically pulsatile and spiral fashion. Sci-
ence has again caught up with his hands-on insights, thanks to
advances in radionuclide magnetic resonance imaging ( Greitz et
al 1997). Many practitioners call the pulsation the cranial rhyth-
mic impulse (CRI), a term coined by Rachel and John Woods in
1961. Clinical studies report a palpable CRI rate of 6-12 cycles/
min, independent of cardiac or diaphragmatic rhythms ( Ma-
goun 1976).
The CRI phenomenon is poorly understood and its origin
remains unknown (acupuncturists face a similar situation when
asked to describe chi). Many researchers have made hypotheses
regarding its source. Initially, Sutherland (1939) proposed that
pulsations arise from rhythmical motions of the brain, causing
dilatation and contraction of cerebral ventricles, generating a
pulse wave of CSF. Magoun (1976) elaborated on this proposal
and also posed an alternative hypothesis–that the choroid plexus
produces CSF in rhythmic cycles, and this oscillation generates
brain motility. Upledger & Vredevoogd (1983) refined the cho-
roid plexus hypothesis, calling it the “pressurestat model.” Mc-
Partland & Mein (1997) called the CRI a palpable harmonic fre-
quency, a summation of several pulsations such as CSF
oscillations, the cardiac pulse, diaphragmatic respiration,
Traube-Hering modulations, rhythmically contractile lymphatic
vessels, pulsating glial cells, and other polyrhythms. This “en-
trainment hypothesis” has been put forward independently (eg,
Milne 1998) and recently supported by experimental data ( Nel-
son et al 2001). Many of these biological oscillators are lesioned
by imbalanced autonomic tone ( Schleip 2002) making the CRI
variable and ephemeral. Thus from a BOCF perspective the CRI
is a lesion phenomenon.
“Fluid Body”
Many osteopaths today work within the CRI models pro-
posed by Magoun or Upledger, but Sutherland moved on. In
the final ten years of his life, Sutherland described the PRM
being generated by external forces. He sensed his patients
being moved by an external ubiquitous force, which he called
the Breath of Life (BoL). Sutherland perceived the BoL to be an
incarnate process, passing through the patient’s body and the
Sutherland studies the cranial bones and their sutures and foraminae
1930s, early:
Sutherland begins experimenting with the dura and its infoldings (falx, tent)
1930s, late:
Sutherland shifts his focus to the fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid and elucidates the
Primary Respiratory Mechanism
Sutherland describes the Breath of Life
Sutherlalnd begins working with Tidal potency
Sutherland stops motion testing, all fulcra occur in still points
Sutherland’s writings are published, after editing by Ada Sutherland and Anne Wales
Sutherland’s students Rollin Becker and Robert Fulford expand his post-1943 work
Jealous links Sutherland’s insights to the works of Blechschmidt and van der Post
Bar Harbor: at a meeting of osteopaths from England New England, James
Figure 1. A chronology OCF and BOCF evolution.
Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1
practitioner’s hands, undiminished. With the BoL concept
Sutherland’s reverence for a self-correcting system had fully
flowered. “Sutherland arrived at a conceptual transition, leav-
ing those who followed with a bridge to the depth of osteo-
pathic research and practice that places us upon a new and
deeply challenging renewal of the ultimate truths of our pro-
fession” ( Jealous 1997). Sutherland’s bridge linked his stu-
dents to Still’s earlier insights, such as “Life is the highest
known force in the universe” and “We are the children of a
greater mind” ( Still 1902).
In the final years of his life, Sutherland’s perceptual lan-
guage drew upon the natural world around his home in Pacific
Grove, California. He spoke of his patients as if they were part
of a sea, with waves that rhythmically move through the wa-
ter, and a tide that moves deeper, through both water and
waves ( Sutherland 1967). Sutherland was describing a poly-
rhythmic system (see Table 1). As the BoL transubstantiates
into the PRM, it generates various harmonic rhythms in the
body, such as the “Long Tide,” the “300 second cycle,” the “2
to 3 cycle,” and the CRI. Becker (1965) described the Long
Tide as the basal rhythm, its rate directly correlating with that
of the BoL, oscillating at a frequency of 6 cycles every 10
minutes. Around 1988 Jealous described the “2 to 3” (aka the
CPM cycle) with a mean frequency of 2.5 cycles/min
(Jealous 1997). The 2
CPM is a harmonic of the Long Tide.
It is not modulated by the central or autonomic nervous
systems, making it a stable rhythm. Liem (2003) described the
300 second cycle, which has also been described by others.
Polyrhythms may explain the poor agreement seen in some
OCF inter-examiner reliability studies. For example, the in-
ter-examiner study by Norton (1996), reported low reliability
between OCF practitioners. This study was flawed because
one practitioner recorded the CRI rate while the other prac-
titioner recorded the 2
CPM cycle ( Jealous, personal com-
munication, 1997).
Sutherland (1990) compared the BoL to the cyclic, sweeping
beam of light emitted from a lighthouse, “lighting up the ocean
but not touching it.” The BoL sweeps through the patient, en-
lightening the healing forces already present in the patient. This
allows the “Fluid Body” to emerge, where the whole body be-
haves as if it were a single unit of living substance. The Fluid
Body represents the BOCF equivalent of a Bose-Einstein con-
densate, where individual molecules lose their identity and form
a cloud that behaves as a single entity ( Cornell & Wieman,
Sutherland’s initial osseous approach to OCF requires a sound
palpatory comprehension of all surface landmarks of the cra-
nium, at all stages of human development. This includes the
contours of the 22 cranial bones, their interlocking articulations,
and many fissures and foraminae. Normal and abnormal levels
of tonus in extracranial muscles must also be appreciated, as well
as tissue texture changes in cutaneous tissues.
The dural model of OCF, like the osseous approach, requires a
comprehensive grasp of anatomy. Perceptually, sensing the dura
and the reciprocal tension mechanism requires the practitioner
to palpate tissues beyond his or her fingertips. This seeming
esoteric skill is familiar to anyone who has driven an automobile
on wet roads–feeling a slippery road surface through the steering
wheel, sensing the road surface indirectly, through a series of
linkages from the road through the tires through the wheel axles
through the steering wheel.
For practitioners working with the CSF and fluid fluctuations,
anatomical knowledge is not sufficient. Rollin Becker admon-
ished, “Studying the cadaver is like studying a telephone pole to
find out how a tree works” ( Speece et al 2001). The requisite
education comes from a study of living tissues in one’s patients.
The practitioner visualizes “a state of rapport in the fluid conti-
nuity between the physician and the patient” ( Magoun 1976) by
“melding the hands with the head” ( Upledger & Vredevoogd
1983). With training and practice the practitioner feels a subtle
motion, much like the respiratory excursion of the chest, sensed
as a broadening and narrowing of the head between the hands.
This type of palpation represents a harmonic signal of several
senses, including temperature receptors, mechanoreceptors, and
proprioceptors ( McPartland & Mein 1997). Other yet-uneluci-
dated sensors may detect piezoelectricity or electrical fields as
described by yogic practitioners ( Green 1983). Milne (1998)
achieved “visionary craniosacral perception” by entraining his
diaphragmatic breath, empathy, and intent with those of his
“Fluid Body”
Detecting polyrhythms and the Fluid Body requires practitio-
ners to augment their “afferent” activity and reduce their “effer-
ent” activity. In other words, practitioners must emphasize re-
ception rather than transmission. This is the difference between
listening to a radio and conversing on a cell phone. Even “meld-
ing the hands with the head” may be too efferent. Conveying
efferent forces into a patient creates a jumbled sense of “I-thou.”
To detect the Long Tide and the 2
CPM cycle requires defa-
cilitation of the practitioner’s central nervous system ( Jealous
2001). Our consciousness, like our spinal cord, can become
facilitated and noisy. According to Jealous, a quiet mind requires
the cranial, thoracic, and pelvic diaphragms to function without
inhibition. This is accomplished by allowing the breath to be-
come slow and regular, and by softening the muscles above the
Table 1. Polyrhythmic Cycles Described in OCF and BOCF
Cycle name Cycle rate Cycle source
Cranial rhythmic
6-12 cycles/min Unknown. Possibly
entrained autonomics
or pre-Neutral CNS
CPM cycle 2.5 cycles/min Primary Respiration
Long Tide 0.6 cycles/min Breath of Life
300 second cycle 0.2 cycles/min Unknown. Possibly a
third-order wave
24 EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1 Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy
pubic bone. These actions reportedly serve to “synchronize the
practitioner’s attention.” As attention synchronizes and has
room to breath, the practitioner senses deeper rhythms, and the
signal shifts from the CRI rate to the 2
CPM cycle. With
deeper defacilitation, perception of the 2
CPM cycle disap-
pears into the Long Tide ( Jealous 2001).
With enhanced perceptual skills, the practitioner eventually
perceives a sense of Neutral, which is experienced as a homoge-
nization of tissue, fluid, and potency–the Fluid Body, where
nothing under the fingertips can be discerned as a separate en-
tity. This lysergic entity lies at the perceptual center of BOCF.
The Neutral cannot be conceptualized; it can only be experi-
enced. It is here that “holism” becomes more than a philosoph-
ical concept, it can be appreciated as an actual sensory percep-
tion. A summary of some of the differences between OCF and
BOCF are presented in Table 2.
Directly adjusting sutures and foraminae affects the function of
cranial nerves and vessels that traverse these apertures, as well as
the function of muscles that originate or insert upon cranial
bones. Some of Sutherland’s students continue to focus on
bones and sutures, such as the American chiropractor De-
Johnette, who founded Sacral-Occipital Technique ( Hesse
1991). Treatment of suboccipital muscles directly impacts the
dura and may be helpful in patients with dural headaches and
chronic pain syndromes ( McPartland et al 1997).
Treating the reciprocal tension membrane with balanced mem-
branous tension (BMT) is an indirect technique, performed by
gently exaggerating the membrane’s strain patterns, balancing
the tension in strained fibers with the tension present in normal
fibers, effecting a release of the strain ( Sutherland 1990). Many
osteopaths work with this dural model and get good results.
Lawrence Jones used his counterstrain technique to mould the
falx and the tent. Beryl Arbuckle was an extraordinarily gifted
practitioner of BMT.
Sutherland initially used direct hydraulic force, such as the CV4
technique for compressing CSF in the 4th ventricle ( Magoun
1976, Upledger & Vredevoogd 1983). The CV4 induces thera-
peutic changes around the body, possibly via periaqueductal
gray (PAG) tissue, which surrounds the 4th ventricle. The PAG is
lined with neuroreceptors (opioid and cannabinoid receptors),
and it responds to stimuli (such as hydraulic pressure) by acti-
vating these neuroreceptors, by releasing endorphins and endo-
cannabinoids, and by propagating pain-inhibitory signals to the
dorsal horn. The PAG is homuncular, like the somatosensory
cortex, so the topography of the PAG corresponds to different
parts of the body (J. Giodarno, personal communication, 2002).
Most practitioners who work with the rhythmic fluctuation of
CSF focus upon the CRI rate, as exampled by Magoun’s and
Updelger’s models. The CRI rate is also the focus of the Suther-
land Cranial Teaching Foundation (SCTF), although the SCTF
now incorporates the 2
CPM cycle and the Long Tide into
their curriculum (A. Norrie, personal communication, 2002).
CRI-oriented practitioners may bring about therapeutic
changes by inducing entrainment ( McPartland & Mein 1997).
Entrainment was first described in 1665 by Christiaan Huygens
( Strogatz & Stewart 1993). He noted that collections of pendu-
lum clocks began swinging in synchrony with each other. This
coupling phenomenon also arises within organisms (eg, cardiac
pacemaker cells) and between organisms (eg, simultaneously
flashing fireflies, harmoniously chirping crickets, and women
Table 2. Brief Comparison of Biomechanical and Biodynamic Models of OCF
Biomechanical Biodynamic
Techniques led by practitioner’s forces, directly
or indirectly
Techniques follow movement within the system. Transmutative ability of the Tide
is acknowledged. Tidal forces directly interface with pattern of disease.
Practitioner follows closely.
Axial motion in bones Motion is translational, transmutational, metabolic.
“Mechanism” used as a non distinct collective
“Mechanism” defined through specific elements (ie, Breath of Life, Fluid Drive,
Tidal Forces, different rates, and others) Words have sensory foundations that
are clearly stated.
CRI is a primary expression of the BoL CRI is not an expression of the BoL nor is it a therapeutic force.
CRI 8-14 cycles per minute. Slower rates not
Basic rate is 2-3 cycles per minute; slower rates are specifically identified as
primary to the system.
Perception is automatic. Skills not delineated Perception is a conscious, skillful act, requiring training and moment-to-moment
adjustment, not automatic.
Lesions are somatic and articular in nature Lesions may occur at any level in the system. A lesion is seen as a unit of
dysfunction in the Whole person.
SBS is a primary site of orientation for lesion
activity. Lesions are diagnosed and reduced
by conceptual sequences beginning at SBS
Primary site is variable. Lesions are not automatically corrected; sequences are
not conceptual. Priorities are established by the Tide.
Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1
whose menstrual phases cycle together). Huygens noted that
“strongest” clocks (those with the heaviest pendulums) estab-
lished the eventual, overall rhythm. ( McPartland & Mein 1997)
proposed that practitioners transferred their “strong clock”
rhythms onto their patients, and enhanced this transfer by as-
suming a meditative state before treating patients. Meditative,
centered states are known to produce strong entrainment ( Tiller
et al 1996). Centering to harness entrainment may be a wide-
spread therapeutic technique, albeit unrecognized by practitio-
ners of Feldenkrais, Network Chiropractic, Polarity therapy,
Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and Tragering. Chinese practitioners
center on tan tien, the “one point,” about 5 cm above the pubic
bone, whereas Tibetan practitioners meditate on an image of the
Medicine Buddha centered at sahar chakrã, the crown of the head
( McPartland 1989). The new “Freeze-Frame” technique focuses
on the heart to achieve entrainment ( Tiller et al 1996). All these
techniques center attention on parts of the body rich in biolog-
ical oscillators (intestines, brain, and heart).
Tiller et al (1996) stated that feelings of empathy and love lead
to strong entrainment. Jahn (1996) described the resonant bond
between practitioner and patient as a form of love, transmitting
“beneficial information.” Wirkus (1992) emphasized that the
healer “. . .must feel and be the heart chakra. . . It is not thinking
the word ‘love,’ it is the real sensation of pure love which brings
warmth, delicate vibrations in your heart area.” Fulford (1988)
was precise: “You the [practitioner] stand neutral, acting as a
conduit for the flow of divine love. As you learn to use love
properly in healing work, your body vibrations increase and it
becomes easier to handle the potency of the love energy.”
Entrainment has its limitations. It can only be employed by
practitioners who work with the CRI. Practitioners working with
slower rhythms avoid efferent activity, so no entrainment may
be possible, or desired. We limit our therapeutic potential when
we focus solely on the CNS–whether we work with the CSF like
Sutherland’s early years, or the cellular vibrations of entrain-
ment. We may also cause side effects and iatrogenesis ( Green-
man & McPartland 1995, McPartland 1996).
“Fluid Body”
According to a précis by Jealous (personal communication,
2004), “Cranial osteopathy is not about the cranium. It is about
Primary Respiration.” Sutherland’s move from the CSF to the
Fluid Body began with a technique he called “automatic shift-
ing.” Paulsen (1953) described Sutherland’s sensation of a “mo-
tor” starting in the CSF and then carrying on of its own accord,
generating a healing force that treated several lesions around the
body. “The core of this work is perceptual,” wrote ( Jealous 2001),
“We learn to sense the Whole. When one meets a patient, one
sees the Whole—a very rare event in our modern world.” When
a patient achieves a Neutral as described previously, the CNS
becomes quiet (the person often falls asleep). With the CNS
“out of the way,” the whole person—the CNS, CSF, all other
fluids, and all other tissues—merges into the Fluid Body. Within
the protoplasmic Fluid Body, motion is purely metabolic, re-
sponding freely to the outside presence of the natural world and
the BoL.
To harness the potency present in the BoL as expressed in the
Tide requires ever-more subtle techniques. In the final years of
his career, Sutherland stopped all motion testing of the head,
and applied no forces to osteopathic lesions. He worked with
fulcrums in still points, and stated, “treat not with techniques
but gentle contact” ( Sutherland 1990). Working with the Health
is a BOCF imperative, echoing Still (1899), “To find health
should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.”
Jealous (1997) described therapeutic changes requiring an “ab-
original and instinctual consciousness” on the part of the prac-
titioner, not intellectual or even intuitive, “The moment is filled
with the effort to be present with the Health in the patient and
the story as it unfolds into its own answer.”
Osteopaths base their science in physics, whereas Western med-
ical practitioners practice chemistry–their pharmacodynamic
tools treat chemical moieties known as genes and gene products.
Osteopaths recognize the A-T-C-G chemistry of genes, but focus
on the physics of the midline within the double helix itself. To
wit, osteopaths focus on the double helix’s fourth dimension:
Time. DNA converts time into space. Surprisingly, this transmu-
tation can be explained within the mechanistic model of New-
tonian physics ( Pourquié 2003). Many new ideas proposed by
New Age healers operate within a Newtonian paradigm. Pert
(2000) hypothesized that energy therapists heal their patients by
inducing a vibrational tone that shifts neuroreceptors into their
constitutively-active state, or the vibrations trigger the release of
endorphins that active the neuroreceptors Oschman (2000) de-
scribed crystalline materials within biological structures (eg,
phospholipids within cell membranes, collagen in connective
tissues) that generate electric fields when compressed or
stretched (piezoelectricity). These energy fields may be the
source of hands-on healing, a radical proposition, but safe within
a mechanistic paradigm.
Newtonian physics has undergone a paradigm shift to Quan-
tum physics, thanks to relativistic studies addressing subatomic
phenomena and consciousness. Still’s writings suggest he had
undergone a Quantum paradigm shift. He knew intuitively that
the healing events in his patients happened at the subatomic
level, but he did not have the words or the concepts of Quantum
physics to draw upon, to express the transformation he was
experiencing in his treatments. Instead, he ascribed the return to
health to God or Divine Nature at work.
Sutherland’s BoL exhibits characteristics that can only be ex-
plained by Quantum theory (eg, the theory of implicate order by
Bohm 1980). The BoL transubstantiates into primary respira-
tion, a field force that generates a spatial orientation, so it shares
characteristics with the “morphogenetic fields” described by
Sheldrake (1981). Sheldrake’s concepts are very Quantum: Mor-
phogenetic fields carry information only (no energy) and are
available throughout time and space without any loss of inten-
sity after they have been created. These nonphysical “blueprints”
guide the formation of physical forms through three-dimen-
sional patterns of vibration he called morphic resonance. The mor-
phic resonance that generates form in the embryo is the same
process that generates healing in the adult.
The role of consciousness in Quantum theory is a radical
departure from classical physics. The outcome of any experi-
26 EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1 Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy
ment depends upon the consciousness of the observer. Indeed,
the term observer should be replaced by the term participator.We
cannot observe the universe, we are participants in it. Our indi-
vidual consciousness is a small hologram of the universal con-
sciousness shared by all living things. Capra (1996) named con-
sciousness (“the process of knowing”) as a key feature of life,
including life forms such as plants and protozoans that lack a
central nervous system. The protoplasmic Fluid Body shares this
consciousness, which explains its “sensitive” and “decision-mak-
ing” attributes ( Jealous 2001).
From a BOCF perspective, Jealous (2001) acknowledged that
the practitioner’s consciousness has a primary role in the depth
of therapeutic changes arising in the patient. Jealous discovered
that his therapeutic results improved in proportion to the extent
to which he could free himself from conscious rationalization.
He discovered, as did Sutherland, that the practitioner’s effort
“. . .is to let the Breath of Life move us, allow us vision. . . One’s
effort must be from a ‘sense of the possibilities’” ( Jealous 2001).
The next couple sections of this article review new research
“around the edges” of BOCF science.
Jealous (2001) characterized traditional osteopathy as a science
based on anatomy, whereas BOCF is a science based on embry-
ology. BoL practitioners have followed the work of Erich Blech-
schmidt (1902–1992), an unabashedly holistic embryologist. Ac-
cording to Blechschmidt (1977), each part of the embryo
develops in motion, and each motion impacts the development
of each subsequent motion. Early embryological development is
largely epigenetic, guided by fluid dynamics. Blechschmidt’s con-
cepts agree with BOCF practitioners, who postulate that the
BoL, the external force described by Sutherland, generates a
spatial orientation in the embryo. The spatial orientation be-
comes expressed in the material plane by fluid forces, perhaps by
electromagnetic water hydrogen bonds (a concept that resonates
with the “water imprint” theory of homeopathy), generating a
matrix that governs the embryo’s development. This conceptual
agreement between Blechschmidt and BOCF places them on
one side of a great debate. For the past 50 years scientists have
argued over two theories regarding embryonic development: is it
passive and “external,” driven by fluid dynamics, or active and
“internal,” driven by the molecular activity of genes?
Neural crest cells (NCCs) are a focus of this debate. Migratory
NCCs appear in the fourth week of human embryogenesis. As
the lateral edges of the neural plate fold up and fuse at midline to
form the neural tube, NCCs surf the crest of the wave generated
by this zipper-like action. NCCs follow highly replicated, stereo-
typical pathways. In our age of molecular medicine, advocates of
active cell migration uphold the dominant paradigm. According
to this view, migrating NCCs are directed by genes that express
cell membrane receptors. NCC receptors sense molecular gradi-
ents in the extracellular fluid. Thus NCC migration has been
described as chemotaxic, guided by molecules such as integrins,
cadherins, and connexins ( Maschhoff and Baldwin 2000). This
molecular view is challenged, however, by phylogenetic incon-
sistencies–NCCs only appear in vertebrate embryos. Inverte-
brate embryos have no NCCs yet they express genes linked with
NCC migration, such as BMP2/4, Pax3/7, Msx, Dll and Snail
(Holland & Holland 2001). Vice versa, genes associated with
vertebrate cell migration, such as CNR1 ( Song and Zhong 2000)
are absent in invertebrates ( McPartland et al 2001, McPartland &
Glass 2001). Plants, which are devoid of a CNS, also express
integrin receptors ( Lynch et al 1998), which aid plant cells
in the perception of gravity (a very subtle force in non-ferrous
materials). Perhaps integrin receptors are not chemotaxic guides,
but in fact respond to subtle electromagnetic forces such as the
Blechschmidt argued that fluid dynamics permit migrating
cells to overcome the inertial, thixotropic (viscous) behavior of
embryonic extracellular fluid. The tensile quality of the fluid
matrix provides a scaffolding for the migration and movement
of NCCs. BOCF practitioners correlate this concept with Suth-
erland’s description of the Tide acting as a fluid within a fluid,
expressing a tensile quality, with the ability to direct force. Blech-
schmidt’s theory has been verified by researchers around the
world (see a dozen citations in Jesuthasan 1997) who injected
latex beads into living embryos. Latex beads are inert objects
incapable of molecular chemotaxis and lack inherent motility.
They nevertheless follow the migratory pathways of NCCs. The
tensile fluid forces required for this kind of movement were
demonstrated by Schwenk (1996), who used micropipettes to
inject streams of fluids into water. Boundary surfaces arising
between the moving fluid and the still water vortexed into or-
ganic forms (see Figure 2). Experimental changes in fluid density
or injection speed created different forms. In some experiments,
the tensile quality of the fluid matrix created shapes that resem-
Figure 2. Photomicrograph of micropipette injecting a stream of fluid
into water, forming a vortex. The boundary surface between the
moving fluid and the still water creates organic forms. Illustration by
Gerald Moonen, redrawn from Schwenk (1996).
Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1
bled the migratory path of neural crest cells. In other experi-
ments the spatial orientations of fluid-in-a-fluid suggested CNS
formation in the embryo, complete with dura and pia, cerebral
hemispheres, and a corpus callosum connected the hemispheres
(see Figure 3). Schwenk’s experiments with fluid mechanics sug-
gested that the geometric configuration of the embryo is present
before the structure develops.
After the fluids lay down a matrix or blueprint, genetic expres-
sion subsequently organizes the cells, and cell migration does
indeed become active. For example, the initial wave of NCCs
stops migrating and establishes a reticular lattice. This lattice
provides a scaffolding for the active chemotaxic growth of neu-
rons, presaging the mature organization of the autonomic ner-
vous system ( Conner et al 2003).
Similar phenomena govern the growth of neurons, via a sen-
sory and motor apparatus in their tip termed the growth cone.
Growth cone pathfinding is partially guided by fluid forces, a
passive process again demonstrated by the translocation of inert
latex beads ( Newman et al 1985). But genes also contribute to
growth cone pathfinding, by expressing cell membrane receptors
that are activated by extracellular “attractant” or “repellent”
compounds. For example UNC-40 and Eph receptors are acti-
vated by netrins and ephrins, proteins secreted into extracellular
fluid. Activated UNC-40 and Eph receptors begin a molecular
cascade that directs the cell’s actin cytoskeleton, thereby regulat-
ing growth cone motility ( Dickson 2002). A veritable molecular
soup guides neurons to their destinations. This complexity can
be appreciated by the daunting task faced by commissural axons,
which must grow towards the midline, cross it, and then con-
tinue on their path without turning back.
Nevertheless, Blechschmidt emphasized that genes do not
act, they react to external forces. The reaction of genes to hydro-
static pressure during embryogenesis has recently been termed
“the morphogenetic mechanism” ( Van Essen 1997). Wal (1997)
likened genes to the clay that forms a piece of pottery. Clay by
itself by itself cannot form into shape; it requires the hands of
the artist. And the hands of the artist cannot act without the
mind of the artist. From a BOCF perspective, clay represents the
genes, the hands represents the fluid forces, and the artist’s mind
represents the BoL—the “deific plan” or the “master mechanic”
often alluded to by A.T. Still. Anecdotally, we (J.M. and E.S.)
attended a BOCF workshop the week that Venter et al (2001)
published the human genome sequence. While scientists around
the world pondered the paradox that an organism of our com-
plexity could operate on only 30,000 genes ( Claverie 2001), our
workshop of BOCF practitioners confirmed the obvious neces-
sity for epigenetic forces to make “decisions” that shape embry-
Blechschmidt (1977) elaborated six different mechanisms by
which fluids “behave internally,” creating function out of which
emerges structure: contusion, distusion, dilatation, retension,
detraction, and densation. Later he added corrosion, loosening,
and suction mechanisms ( Blechschmidt & Gasser 1978). These
mechanisms are driven by the metabolism of cellular tissues.
Cell metabolism potentizes or depletes various fluids, which
Blechschmidt termed “metabolic fields.” For example, the earli-
est bending of the embryonic disc (flexing into a “C” shape) is
due to a decrease in pressure from the collapse of the yolk sac
( Drews 1995). Cellular metabolism depletes nutrients in extra-
cellular fluids, and causes a build-up of metabolic wastes. Sheets
of cells adjacent to depleted fluids slow their growth, and be-
come the concavity of tissue curvatures. Concentration gradi-
ents of nutrients and wastes create fluid movements between
sources and sinks. When these fluid movements cannulize tis-
sues they become embryonic blood vessels.
Sheets of cells, tissues, and organs grow at different rates.
The epithelial linings of these assemblages become restrain-
ing structures, generating form. The embryonic face, for ex-
ample, arises as folds and furrows between an expanding brain
and a beating heart ( Blechschmidt & Gasser 1978). Growth
differentials within the embryonic cranium create fluid pat-
terns that later condense into mechanical tension zones or
mesenchymal restraining bands known as the dural girdles.
Figure 3. hotomicrograph of micropipette injecting a stream of fluid
into water, an experimental variation from Figure 4, changing the
density of the fluid. The spatial orientation of boundary surfaces
suggests that of embryonic CNS formation. Illustration by Gerald
Moonen, redrawn from Schwenk (1996).
28 EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1 Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy
They guide the position, shape, and inner structure of the
brain, “The resistances are not crude mechanical forces but
delicate living developmental resistances” ( Blechshmidt
1961). The midline dural girdle between the cerebral hemi-
spheres serve as a strong restrainer against the pull of the
descending viscera and the eccentric growth of the cerebrum.
This midline dural girdle is retained into adulthood as the falx
cerebri. It initially cleaves the frontal bone, which is why the
frontal bone, a single midline structure in most adults, func-
tionally behaves like a paired bone. In some individuals this
midline function is retained as structure, the metopic suture
( Magoun 1976). Several paired dural girdles arise in the em-
bryo, and one of them is retained into adulthood as the
tentorium cerebelli.
Another aspect of embryology that informs BOCF is the
concept of a functional midline, around which our bodies and
health must organize. The midline is the earliest expression of
function within the embryo. A series of structures arises from
the midline – first the primitive streak appears in the ecto-
derm, beginning at the caudal pole of the embryonic disc.
Subsequently, the notochord develops within the endoderm,
again growing from caudad to craniad. Days later, the neural
groove forms along the midline, arising tail to head. During
the fourth week of development, the neural tube closes at its
two ends, and the movement of fluid is no longer a circulation,
but a fluctuation. The amniotic fluid becomes the CSF. The
lamina terminalis marks the closure of the cephalgic end of
the tube. This midline structure persists in the adult, at the
roof of the third ventricle. It is the pivot point for all neural
movement. During the inhalation phase of the PRM (ie, the
“inspiration” phase), the entire central nervous system spi-
rally converges upon lamina terminalis. During the exhala-
tion phase, all tissues move away from lamina terminalis.
Jealous (1997) described the midline arising from the Still-
ness, generated by the BoL. The functional midline remains
present throughout our life, and our structure and physiolog-
ical motion remain oriented to the midline. The BoL comes
into the body at the coccyx and ascends along the midline,
radiating “like a fountain spray of life” ( Sills 1999). The con-
veyance of a midline bioenergetic force from tail to head has
been described by numerous workers, perhaps first by the
medical polymath Wilhelm Reich. Reich and his students
independently described the PRM, “. . .confirmation of brain
movement can be obtained from individuals who are free of
armoring. . . this movement is relatively slow and unrelated
to arterial pulsations” ( Konia 1980). Interestingly, genetic
mechanisms tend to work in the opposite direction, in a
cephalad to caudad progression. This is best exemplified by
the activation of a dozen Hox transcription factor genes (the
Hox clock”) that direct the formation of embryonic somites
from head to tail. The sequence of Hox gene expression is
collinear with their gene order on the chromosome ( Kmita &
Duboule 2003).
The movement of the Tide can be palpated throughout the
body, termed “Zone A” by BOCF practitioners ( Jealous
2001). Asian practitioners conceptualize this energy moving
in channels, such as Chinese chi and Ayurvedic vata and its
subdosha prana ( McPartland & Foster 2002). The movement
of the Tide can also be palpated outside the body, in the
“auric field” of various Eastern and Western energy workers,
termed Zone B in BOCF lexicon. Osteopaths such as Ran-
dolph Stone and Robert Fulford primarily worked in Zone B.
Rollin Becker worked in Zone C, a field diffusing from the
midline to the edges of the room (personal communication, J.
Jealous, 1999). Jealous (2001) emphasized that all these zones
exist simultaneously, as do other domains, such as Zone D,
which extends from the patient’s midline to the horizon. The
zones are useful diagnostic tools, augmenting the practitio-
ner’s perceptual fields.
BOCF has learned from embryology, but the relationship is
reciprocal–BOCF has informed the science of embryology.
Take the anterior dural girdle (ADG) for an example. The
ADG arises around the 8th week of pregnancy, as a conden-
sate of strain patterns between the evaginating telencephaic
vesicles (Figure 4). According to most embryologists, the
Figure 4. The anterior dural girdle forming in an 8 week old embryo,
drawn as a thin double line between anterior and lateral telencephalic
vesicles. Illustration by McPartland, redrawn from Blechschmidt &
Gasser (1978).
Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1
ADG regresses before birth. However, one of Jealous’s col-
leagues alerted him to a cranial strain pattern that he detected
in several of his adult patients. They started calling it “the
hoop,” describing its sensory feel. They organized perinatal
dissections with Frank Willard, PhD, and discovered that the
anterior dural girdle does not always involute before birth,
but sometimes remains as an anterior transverse septum (Fig-
ure 5). In other cases the girdle regresses, although a strain
pattern may remain in the fluids.
BOCF palpation also presaged the discovery of a dural bridge
in the suboccipital region (Jealous, personal communication,
1999), and this structure is now known to persist in adults ( Mc-
Partland & Brodeur 1999). The dural bridge attaches the dura to
the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane (PAOM), a ligament
that spans the OA joint.
BOCF is taught within a clinically based programme, where
each step is designed as a journey to reawaken the intuitive
and instinctual aspects of the practitioner’s mind. Our intui-
tive and instinctual faculties were called “primary percep-
tions” by Pearce (1977), who described them as “part of na-
ture’s built-in system for communication and rapport with
the earth.” These abilities tend to disappear, like muscle atro-
phy, if they go unused. Thus intuition and instinct are present
at birth, but wither due to lack of use given today’s societal
and educational burdens. Our intuition, instinct, and percep-
tual vitality are also dulled by the stress of urban living, and
by the pressures of our professional life.
Great care is taken in the choice of where practitioners
receive BOCF training. The natural world is a necessary par-
ticipant and instructor. Through his own experiences in the
wildernesses of New England and Canada, Jealous learned
how the deeper self, the human spirit, emerges upon encoun-
tering the nature world. Nature’s “spell of the sensuous” qui-
ets a person’s CNS, allowing boundaries to fall away between
the individual and the whole. John Muir, a 19th century
American naturalist, spoke like an osteopath, “In nature,
when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched
to everything else in the universe” ( Muir 1911). The BOCF
practitioner transports this natural-world phenomenon to the
urban treatment room, incorporating an indigenous state of
consciousness into everyday clinical practice.
It is important to recognise that what is observed during the
course of treatment is not the result of mesmerism, coloured
by a vaguely vitalistic theory, but evidence of a precisely
organised natural system which requires discipline and dedi-
cation in order to develop the practitioner’s perceptual fac-
ulty. Practitioners at this time in history are in a unique
position. Given our training in medical science and hands-on
manipulative techniques, combined with the principles of
Still and Sutherland, we can consult with the blueprint for
health, namely, embryological growth and development reca-
pitulated as the forces of healing. But there is a caveat: with-
out the proper preparation, this approach can be dangerous
for the patient and an abuse of the practitioner’s commitment
to the Hippocratic Oath. This model does not work with
“energy” but with the consciousness of the natural world.
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32 EXPLORE January 2005, Vol. 1, No. 1 Biodynamic Model of Osteopathy
... From the beginning of the 1930s, he concentrated on the dura mater with its intracranial connections. At the end of the 1930s, his focus is on the Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) and the mobility/motility of the brain [11]. In his work "the Cranial Bowl" he describes that the mobility of the skull originates from a mechanism inside the skull, the primary respiratory mechanism [12]. ...
... In this period he found the fluctuation of LCS and the inherent motility of the brain to be leading. A colleague working in the same period, Charlotte Weaver, saw the bone fragments of the skull as modified vertebrae based on embryological studies, something which had already been described by Goethe at the end of the 18th century [11]. In 1943 Sutherland's view changed. ...
... In the 50s to 70s Magoun and Becker published their work in which they particularly shed light and elaborate on the insights of Sutherland's last life period [2,17]. Sutherland's last phase is characterized by the vision that the body is a polyrhythmic system in which the "the Breath of Life" transubstantiates into PRM within the body and generates different 16-11-2021 09:45 Osteopathy in the Cranial Field from a Systems Theory Perspective… 4/20 the Breath of Life transubstantiates into PRM within the body and generates different rhythms such as the "long tide", a Fluid Rhythm of 2-3 c/min and a 300-sec rhythm [11]. Over the last 40 years, it was James Jealous in particular who developed Sutherland's later ideas and called them biodynamic aspects within osteopathy, Biodynamic model of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field (BOCF) [11]. ...
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A proposition is made for scientific substantiation of “Primary respiration” and related concepts, including suggestions for future research. For research and support, the field of mathematics, artificial intelligence, chaos theory and complex systems thinking can be of fundamental and essential value.
... The body-mind-spirit paradigm, derived from key Native American healing practices [3], is at the core of two healthcare healing principles: the shamanic [1] and the osteopathic [7]. However, the holistic bodymind-spirit approach to healthcare [8] [31][32][33][34][35][36][37] similar to other Western musculoskeletal practices, that is supported by scientific evidence [9]. This duality of osteopathic practices, one led by evidence and the other by principles, may be a source of conflicting views within the profession and worsened by the pressure of a healthcare environment shaped by evidence [10]. ...
... One example may be the biodynamic model of osteopathy in the cranial field, a vitalistic model influenced by Sutherland's theories [31]. According to McPartland and Skinner [32] p. 30], 'this model does not work with "energy" but with the consciousness of the natural world', and 'what is observed during treatment is not the result of mesmerism, coloured by a vaguely vitalistic theory, but evidence of a precisely organised natural system that requires discipline and dedication to develop the practitioner's perceptual faculty'. While the willingness to describe osteopathic experiences should be encouraged, practitioners should be careful with their descriptions because misuse of metaphors in medicine can be potentially harmful [33]. ...
The purpose of the current commentary was to document how Native American healing traditions may have influenced A.T. Still in the development of osteopathic principles and how current neuroscience models describing shamanic healing practices of Native American healers may have applicability for osteopathic manipulative practices. Recent materials from the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine document when Still was living among the Shawnee and suggest he was familiar with their healing traditions. Although he introduced the body-mind-spirit paradigm, derived from a key Native American healing concept, into Western medicine, this paradigm still lacks scientific grounding. Neuroscience models may offer a theoretical framework for the ‘spiritual’ component of the body-mind-spirit paradigm with brain predictive processing models that describe spiritual experiences of patients in altered states of consciousness. With its traditional medicine heritage and current evidence-based approach, the osteopathic profession is in a unique position to promote the scientific model of holistic care.
... 38 The diagnostic and treatment phases are both integrated into the osteopathic approach of the biodynamic field. 39 This approach serves to identify dysfunctional patterns in complex and sometimes chaotic clinical settings. The model described by the participants agrees with recent research findings: it has been proposed that a class of lowthreshold mechanosensitive C-fibers named C-tactile afferents-which respond optimally to gentle, slow-moving touch 40 -are likely to play a direct and significant role in the efficacy of manual therapies, with a particular focus on perinatal care. ...
Objective The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes held by a group of Italian osteopaths toward osteopathic evaluation, treatment, and management in the neonatal and pediatric field. Methods A thematic analysis with elements of grounded-theory approaches was used. Purposive sampling was used to recruit expert osteopaths in the neonatal and pediatric field. Data were gathered from July 2017 to January 2018 by individual semistructured interviews and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis of the data was then performed. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist was used to structure the design of this qualitative study. Results Eight osteopaths participated. Data analysis generated 3 main themes: the role of the osteopath in the collaborative process of care, osteopathic diagnostic-clinical reasoning in the neonatal and pediatric field, and osteopathic treatment in the neonatal and pediatric field. Conclusion The present study highlights that Italian osteopaths may prefer interprofessional and integrative activities aimed at supporting adaptive capacity and resilience for pediatric patients.
... In pain medicine, negative and neurological metaphors can be detrimental, so other metaphors and realisation of the contribution of narrative are necessary [55]. Similarly, potential misuse of vocabulary for MSK management [56] may overlap with patients' cognitive R/S dimensions. As in other medical fields, use of such wording may not be optimal [57]. ...
Addressing religion and spirituality (R/S) dimensions may be uncomfortable for patients and practitioners because they refer to intimate beliefs about existence, vary across the globe and cultures, and are not routinely shared in the modern therapeutic scenario. Often, R/S dimensions are overlooked in musculoskeletal (MSK) practice despite associations with attitudes and behaviour that directly affect quality of life and health outcomes. Inclusion of basic R/S dimensions in the therapeutic alliance may optimise care and establish these dimensions as interactors within the biopsychosocial model. The purpose of this commentary was to provide practitioners with definitions of R/S that are useful for managing care of MSK patients, describe how attitudes towards R/S may be linked to health status, and indicate how R/S dimensions could be discussed in simple ways in a modern therapeutic scenario. Finally, suggestions are provided for MSK practitioners and researchers to address R/S dimensions in Western evidence-oriented healthcare.
... Die Dominanz der sich hartnäckig haltenden Lehrmeinung trotz des Eingeständnisses einer großen Irrtumswahrscheinlichkeit führte dazu, dass alternative Ansätze [2] bislang kaum veröffentlicht oder diskutiert wurden und dass sich andererseits "biodynamische" Therapieansätze [19] immer größerer Beliebtheit erfreuen, deren Zuordnung in eine empirisch-wissenschaftliche Medizin mangels falsifizierbarer Aussagen [26] jedoch fraglich erscheint. ...
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Background According to Sutherland’s original model of cranial osteopathy, intrinsic rhythmic movements of the human brain cause rhythmic fluctuations of cerebrospinal fluid and specific rhythmic changes in dural membranes, cranial bones and the sacrum (i.e. primary respiratory mechanism, PRM). The model is based on the assumption that these rhythmic fluctuations are palpable and can be modified to improve the patient’s health; however, the studies published to date do not suggest the existence of a PRM. A convincing interexaminer reliability has not yet been shown, and there is no scientifically convincing evidence for a clinical effect going beyond a placebo effect. Methods In this context, a tonus test of the deep suboccipital muscles is presented, which can be used as a monitor for the localization, therapy setting and therapy control of osteopathic lesions in the area of the soft tissues of the neck and skull. The test is plausible according to the present state of knowledge, is easy to learn and apply and could open up new perspectives in the diagnosis and treatment of somatic dysfunctions in the craniocervical region.
Zusammenfassung Religion und Spiritualität stehen in Zusammenhang mit Überzeugungen und Verhaltensweisen, die unmittelbar die Lebensqualität und die Gesundheit beeinflussen. Dennoch werden R/S-Dimensionen bei der muskuloskelettalen (MSK) Arbeit nicht beachtet. Grundlegende R/S-Dimensionen in die therapeutische Beziehung zu integrieren, könnte die Behandlung jedoch optimieren. Religion und Spiritualität könnten als Faktoren im biopsychosozialen Modell etabliert werden. Ziel der vorliegenden Arbeit ist es Hinweise zu geben, wie R/S-Dimensionen auf einfache Weise in der therapeutischen Situation diskutiert werden können. Darüber hinaus werden Vorschläge unterbreitet, wie MSK-Therapeuten und Forscher R/S-Dimensionen in der westlichen evidenzbasierten Medizin ansprechen können.
In A Myofascial Approach to Thai Massage, the author takes a radically different approach to Thai Massage by redefining the sen lines in myofascial terms. He provides a coherent system illustrating the function and benefits of Thai Massage through its actions on the myofascial network, lymph and blood flow. In addition, the author questions some of the more dubious moves in Thai Massage; looks at the 'spiritual' aspects of Thai Massage in terms of presence, attention and the therapist/client relationship; takes a unique view of Thai Massage and opens the way for further exploration of massage in the myofascial field; and includes some examples of working with clients to illustrate the themes. Although specifically about Thai Massage, content covers many aspects of the therapist/patient relationship - well explored in psychotherapy but surprisingly little covered in massage courses. To support the therapist: the book includes references to anatomy, physiology and therapeutic processes such as neuromuscular technique and covers massage and relaxation and the techniques and relationship skills that make good massage. the author has distilled the techniques, discarded what he considers dangerous or disturbing for the patient and concentrated on understanding the techniques and ways of working necessary to promote complete relaxation for the client.
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L'approche ostéopathique de la tête a été fondée, dès son origine, sur un modèle biomécanique qui se re-trouve aujourd'hui largement controversé. La nécessité de concilier la pratique ostéopathique avec les preuves disponibles, ainsi que l'esprit critique que nous attendons de la part de nos étudiants, ne sont plus compatibles avec l'ostéopathie crânienne telle qu'elle a été conçue par Sutherland. Ces dernières décennies ont vu émerger un nouveau domaine de recherche s'intéressant à la méca-nique des tissus vivants. Les ostéopathes pourraient y trouver des éléments utiles à l'élaboration d'un modèle de diagnostic et de traitement de la tête qui serait davantage en adéquation avec l'état actuel des connaissances. La biomécanique ne se limite pas à la cinématique du corps humain. Elle inclut l'étude des propriétés mécanique des tissus vivants et la manière dont ils se déforment sous l'action de sollicitations extérieures. Ces études ont notamment permis de mieux comprendre le rôle et le développement des su-tures crâniennes ainsi que la répartition des contraintes et des déformations sur le crâne. Bien qu'ils figurent parmi les éléments plus rigides du corps, les os subissent des déformations, tant dans les scènes de la vie quotidienne qu'au cours d'événements traumatiques. Comme pour tout autre * Titre de l'article original : Osteopathic decapitation : why do we consider the head differently from the rest of the body? New perspectives for an evidence-informed osteopathic approach to the head (International Journal of Osteo-pathic Medicine, 2014, 17, 256-262) http://dx. Texte traduit par les auteurs et disponible sur Le Site de l'Ostéopathie matériau, contraintes et déformations naissent au sein du tissu osseux sous l'effet des sollicitations exté-rieures qui s'y exercent, et les os du crâne ne constituent pas une exception. Dans cet article nous passons en revue les propriétés mécaniques des os et des sutures du crâne et mettons en évidence le rôle primordial que jouent les muscles dans les déformations du crâne. L'action des muscles qui se contractent est désormais reconnue comme l'une des principales causes de sollicitation du tissu osseux : en dehors des événements traumatiques, un nombre conséquent de publications sur le comportement mécanique des os et sutures du crâne confirme le rôle prépondérant que jouent les muscles dans les déformations de la tête.
Background The junction between the sphenoid and occipital bones fully ossifies by age 18, forming the spheno-occipital synostosis. William Sutherland and most subsequent craniosacral authors hold that, in adults, cranial motion is, in part, enabled by movement of the synostosis. Objectives To review arguments for and against movement at the synostosis, and the extent to which statements by craniosacral authors regarding the synostosis accord with the mainstream anatomical understanding of their day. Method A review of relevant literature, and an examination of a number of adult cranial bases, median skull sections and sphenoid bones. Results Within the craniosacral literature, scholarship regarding the junction is poor, with authors often failing to draw upon mainstream anatomical understanding. Three cases have been made regarding movement at the adult junction: (1) it moves because it does not ossify (2) it ossifies but movement, nevertheless, continues and (3) ossification prevents continued movement. 150 years of mainstream anatomical understanding refute (1). Proponents of (2) argue that the preponderance of trabecular bone at the synostosis and clivus facilitates movement. However, Cook, who makes the most detailed case for (3), argues that the thickness of the clivus suggests it is “designed” not to move. Proponents of (2) do not consider this point about clivus thickness, but, conversely, proponents of (3) generally do not consider the point that the majority of bone at the clivus is trabecular. Conclusion The debate over movement at the synostosis and clivus will progress when those involved explicitly address both of these important points.
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Bose-Einstein condensation, or BEC, has a long and rich history dating from the early 1920s. In this article we will trace briefly over this history and some of the developments in physics that made possible our successful pursuit of BEC in a gas. We will then discuss what was involved in this quest. In this discussion we will go beyond the usual technical description to try and address certain questions that we now hear frequently, but are not covered in our past research papers. These are questions along the lines of: How did you get the idea and decide to pursue it? Did you know it was going to work? How long did it take you and why? We will review some our favorites from among the experiments we have carried out with BEC. There will then be a brief encore on why we are optimistic that BEC can be created with nearly any species of magnetically trappable atom. Throughout this article we will try to explain what makes BEC in a dilute gas so interesting, unique, and experimentally challenging(1).