Title

Daniel David Palmer, the father of chiropractic: his heritage revisited. A story of enlightenment, spiritualism and innovation

Document Type

Article

Publication details

McDowall, Chaseling, M, Emmanuel, E & Grace, S 2019, 'Daniel David Palmer, the father of chiropractic: his heritage revisited. A story of enlightenment, spiritualism and innovation', Chiropractic History, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 25-40.

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

This paper employed a historical narrative methodology to answer the question: what are the family and personal influences that potentially shaped Daniel David Palmer up until 1886? Data were drawn from more than fifty data sources including Palmer’s writings, historical and genealogical researchers’ reports, newspapers, trade journal advertisements and commentary, and census reports. To establish the authenticity and trustworthiness of the documents, all data were subject to external and internal criticism. After a thematic analysis, five themes emerged from the data. First, Palmer had an adventurous spirit and refined his beliefs, gathering and publishing various knowledge (particularly to do with healing) that he acquired. Second, understanding Palmer’s family exposure to a variety of religious beliefs explained the origin of the spiritual knowledge that Palmer felt was needed to expand his understanding of tone. Third, healthcare practices of the time were varied and randomly available to Palmer to observe human illness and treatments. Fourth, Palmer published his contributions to each of his occupations with examples of the challenges he faced and how he developed skills in critical observation. Fifth, Palmer critically investigated Spiritualism with rigour of proof and an understanding of how and why he valued his beliefs, giving him an additional resource to acquire knowledge about healing and tone. Palmer’s heritage provides us with insight into the religious and healthcare influences that shaped his power of critical observation and his quest to contribute knowledge. These various influences carried through to the origins of chiropractic.

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