The key difference between the common medical model, aka Western medicine, and chiropractic, which tends to be similar to many Eastern medical practices, is the concept of vitalism.
In conventional medicine, healthcare is believed to be very mechanistic. The body is broken down into its distinct mechanical systems, such as the digestive system, nervous system, integumentary system, and respiratory system, and a different “specialist” is responsible for caring for each individual system. For example, a pulmonologist is concerned with the respiratory system and a cardiologist specializes in the cardiovascular system. In this model of healing and healthcare, each system acts separately of the other, and disease occurs when there is a mechanical problem in one of those systems. Therefore, for healing to occur, the mechanical dysfunction must be corrected, usually by utilizing an approach that includes medication and/or surgery.
The stumbling block in understanding the benefit of chiropractic care for those people that have ascribed to conventional medicine their entire life is the concept of vitalism. Vitalism is based on the root word “vitality,” which is defined as “the power or ability to continue in existence, live, or grow.” A healing model based on vitalism believes that the body is a dynamic, ever-
Chiropractic is designed on the concept of vitalism. In chiropractic, it is believed that the body has an innate intelligence to healing, and disease occurs when the body’s natural ability to heal is interrupted. The thing that disrupts this innate intelligence is something called a subluxation, which is a mechanical dysfunction of the vertebrae that blocks the normal function of the nervous system. By removing these subluxations through gentle and precise adjustments, the interference is removed and the body’s innate intelligence is able to function fully and properly. In essence, with chiropractic, true healing is coming from within the body rather than from the chiropractor’s adjustment. Overall, conventional medicine is based on an outside-
The concepts of mechanism and vitalism are not mutually exclusive ideas. In certain situations, the mechanistic approach is going to be preferred, such as when the body has been in such a period of decay that self-