Dynamic Chiropractic - February 25, 1994, Volume 12, Issue 05

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Book Review

Title: Chiropractic: History and Evolution of a New Profession Author: Walter I. Wardwell, PhD Publisher: Mosby Yearbook Publication: Hard cover book, 287 pages

In 1951, Dr. Wardwell prepared a doctoral dissertation at Harvard in sociology: Social Strain and Social Adjustment in the Marginal Role of the Chiropractor. From that he published two papers in sociological journals and a brief historical paper. In 1961, he published the paper, "Public Regulation in Chiropractic" in the Journal of the National Medical Association. His work was first recognized by our profession in 1968, when he spoke at the ACA convention in New York City.

In Chiropractic: History and Evolution of a New Profession, Dr. Wardwell states: "The prediction that if chiropractic gave up its cultist philosophy it would disappear clearly has not happened, despite the fact that mixers now greatly predominate. It seems safe to conclude that differences between straights and mixers in mode of practice do not constitute a serious barrier to uniting the profession in one national association, despite conflicts over philosophy."

Who is Dr. Wardwell and why is a professor emeritus in the department of sociology, University of Connecticut, writing a book about chiropractic history? As a young boy in 1920, he remembers that his father, a draftsman, had severe eye strain and headaches that glasses and medicine could not help. His father went to a chiropractor, and, of course, the headaches went away. A short time later, young Walter accidentally knocked his father's glasses off and they shattered on the floor. Lo and behold, his father's eye strain had disappeared with chiropractic adjustments and he no longer even needed glasses. Young Walter was taken to the chiropractor as a child and he has been fascinated with the profession ever since.

I was completely intrigued with this book. Dr. Wardwell is a sociologist looking at our profession from the outside in and he has done his homework. The bibliography is 51 pages. It is quite a book. No matter which school you went to, you have never read chiropractic history like this. It is blatantly objective but not negatively biased.

Although I have not read his early papers, I suspect they were equally objective, and in an era when chiropractic was not well researched and mostly anecdotal, they were probably not flattering. However, as he points out in the book, the profession has evolved to the point that it can now stand up quite well to objective scrutiny. I offer as my opinion of this book two points. First, this book itself represents a very important place in the history and evolution of the chiropractic profession (sociologists are now writing about us). Second, you will not be able to put it down.

Eggleston Rating: 9