History & Development
Andrew Taylor Still was first on the scene following his remarkable discovery that the informed touch of the hand on the patient was of greater benefit than the use of drugs and some surgery, but it was John Martin Littlejohn who laid down the Principles and devised the Techniques that have survived every kind of test and have remained with us up to the present time.
It was Littlejohn who observed the physiological dominance in the function/structure equation and the importance of inhibition and stimulation in the nervous interplay, sympathetic and central. He also emphasised the role played by vasomotion in the control of the blood circulation.
But, perhaps his most important contribution to our principles is the statement that ‘you cannot adjust the abnormal to the normal.’ This was followed by an injunction to integrate the body for which purpose the Body Adjustment became a clinical necessity.
The Momentous Year
The year is 1897. John Martin Littlejohn was thirty two years of age and approaching a degree of mental absorption that was phenomenal. His mental qualities were those of a trained thinker who had been deeply schooled in the Humanities; his experience was that of an academician, who had spent much of his life with books and scholars and who had not mixed with the world of business, finance and opportunism; his training was mainly in those arts which lead to orderly thinking–logic, the law, languages, theology and philosophy–to which we must, most emphatically, now add anatomy and physiology. These are the qualities that John Martin Littlejohn brought to Osteopathy. His own description of this great incident in his life reads thus:
“Being an enthusiast in the study of anatomy and physiology, and myself a sufferer, exiled from my native land by the medical profession on the grounds of ill health, I was fascinated by Still’s ideas and then and there accepted the philosophy of his system, that based the foundation of his treatment of disease upon the medicine chest of the human body, and laid the foundation for the prescription of remedies in the adjustment of the body structure, to normalise the production, distribution and application of these remedies in the cure of disease.”