MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

‘Megalomania’ of a clinician is (for the purpose of this blog-post) defined as a practitioner claiming to cure everything. It seems to me that this dangerous condition is endemic in the realm of alternative medicine, and particularly in chiropractic. Perhaps they catch it at chiro school, I don’t know, but an awful lot of them seem to suffer from it.

We all had to get used to this fact, and there is nothing remarkable about it anymore. But recently I came across a website where an extraordinarily severe case is being disclosed. Let me share some of the text (including its grammatical and other errors) with you:

How many of the 10,000 patients Dr. Del Monte has – upon whom he has performed one million spinal adjustments – with his hands – healed themselves?

The woman who could not get pregnant. Doctors told her she would never conceive.

She came to Dr. Del Monte, got adjustments and soon after, somehow – she got pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.

The person with the brain tumor that went away. Science can’t prove it – no more than you can X- Ray for a headache and prove it. Maybe he would have healed his tumor without spinal adjustments.

The two year old that couldn’t speak who suddenly opened her mouth and babbled one hour after her first adjustment.

Asthmatics, bedwetters, people in pain, their back and neck, indigestion, earaches.

Cured.

People set for surgery because they couldn’t bear the pain – who went to Dr. Del Monte and never met the surgeons’ knife.

Dr. Del Monte is an apostle – and I use the word advisedly – for chiropractic is not religion – although its founder D.D. Palmer thought of making it a religion – because it seems to unleash God’s healing power.

Chiropractic can open up impossible doors, unlock the door to free-flowing, “Innate Intelligence” – the natural tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium.

You don’t believe in Innate Intelligence?

One chiropractor explained it this way: “At the moment of your conception, 23 chromosomes from your mother and 23 chromosomes from your father combined to form one cell, the unique ‘You’.

“Barely the size of a pinhead, that one cell began to divide into what is now an estimated 80 quadrillion cells that make up your body. This process is driven by something – call it an Innate Intelligence, an inborn wisdom, which knows how tall you will be, the length of your fingers, where your nose should be on your face, and where your vital organs belong.

“This Innate Intelligence stays with you after you are born and guides every function of your body until your last breath of life.

“The master control system for this is your nervous system which consists of your brain, spinal cord and nerves that go to every cell, tissue and organ. Nerves control your heartbeat, respiration, hormone balance, digestion, immune system, muscle contraction and every other function that is necessary for you to live.

“Your Innate Intelligence is ‘wise’ to the importance of this system. Fully encased in bone, your skull protects your brain and your spinal column protects your spinal cord.”

While no chiropractor can guarantee that your Innate Intelligence will self cure any specific symptoms or diseases, they can guarantee that when your body is free of nerve interference it will work better.

Some have regained eyesight.

Several threw away their canes.

You will often hear people say, when they leave Dr. Del Monte’s office “My back is so much better, I can stand up straight; My migraines are gone; My blood pressure is down; My heartburn is gone; Menstrual cramping went away; My digestion is better; I haven’t had a cold in years.”

Dr. Del Monte explains: “Anything that could be effected by the nervous system can be improved by chiropractic manipulation, and the nervous system controls and coordinates almost every function of the body.

“Why would you mask the symptoms with drugs, when you could allow your own body to heal?”

“Sick cells makes sick tissues which make sick organs. Then there are sick people. Symptoms are the last to show up. If the spine is healthy, the body needs no help in healing. It does the healing.”

The main procedure is “spinal manipulation,” or “adjustments” which restore mobility by applying force into joints that became restricted – as a result of injury — caused by a traumatic event or through repetitive stresses – causing inflammation, pain, and diminished function.

Manipulation, or adjustment of the joint and tissues, alleviates pain and muscle tightness, and allows tissues to heal.

“It should be tried first ahead of drugs and surgery,” Dr. Del Monte says.

The focus is therefore on spotting and curing “vertebral subluxations”, said to be the cause of many diseases. Sometimes chiropractic assumes the sole cause of an individual’s health problems are subluxations.

These subluxations, commonly caused by birth trauma, childhood falls, accidents and all types of stress, reduce the function of the areas supplied by these nerves.

Nerve pressure can affect areas that are directly supplied by those nerves: muscles, bladder, prostate or heart; they can affect the entire body because of the relationship that each cell, organ and system share…

The list of ailments Dr. Del Monte has seen his patients cured of – self healed – are nearly endless: Bowel/bladder problems, chronic colds, allergies, ringing in the ears, earaches, bed wetting, sciatica, colds, fevers…

“So many times people come in with a cold or fever. We see an almost instant response- within hours. It’s not like you are waiting days.

“Ninety percent of the time patients get favorable results. Rarely does a patient go to a Chiropractor and say ‘it didn’t work for me’…

“I don’t need a referral. I don’t need a script. People do refer patients here, but I am primary healthcare. They don’t have to go through their medical doctor. They just come and see me. They just call the office, “ said Dr. Del Monte.

END OF QUOTE

THE ONLY CONDITION THAT CHIROPRACTIC MANIPULATION CANNOT CURE IS MEGALOMANIA!

On a good day, I can heartily laugh at this sort of thing (of which this article is merely one of hundreds of example available on the Internet). On a not so good day, however, I ask myself questions:

  • Where does such idiocy come from?
  • Do chiropractors ever learn anything about medical ethics?
  • Why is this chiropractor still allowed to practice?
  • What happens to the poor patients who fall for it?
  • Why is nobody stopping it?
  • Where are the protests of chiropractors who boast of being reformed and evidence-based?

34 Responses to Chiropractic megalomania

  • Let’s face it; they aren’t clever enough to get into medicine, dental or physio, but they can do this half-baked course and be called “doctor”.

    What is there not to like for the non-critical thinker who over-estimates their self-worth?

  • One of the “old school”. Meaning old school of thought, not in any way reflecting today’s Chiropractic education which has come a long way and is comparable to a medical degree in content and length of training.

    • @ Owain,
      Comparable to a medical degree? Who are you kidding?

      When do they start cutting skin instead of faffing about with “adjustments”? The answer is never.

    • ‘old school’ meaning even less evidence based and more fraudulent than the rest?

  • It’s true. chiropractic megalomania is a thing and it looks set to get worse.

    In the UK, it started gathering steam with the formation of the Alliance of UK Chiropractors (AUKC) six years ago:

    “Our vision is to create a vitalistic, Chiropractic model of health and well-being for families in the UK”
    https://www.facebook.com/Alliance-of-UK-Chiropractors-151897244826008/info/?tab=page_info

    The above link shows that the AUKC adopted the ‘Best Practices’ documentation of the International Chiropractors Association, which, amongst other policies:

    • Supports 27 indications for chiropractic radiography (x-rays) including spinal subluxation, birth trauma (forceps), facial pain, skin diseases, organ dysfunction, eye and vision problems, and hearing disorders.
    • Recommends a basic care plan for simple uncomplicated axial pain (neck pain, back pain, etc) consisting of 25 visits over 8 weeks – with the presence of ‘complicating factors’ (including family/relationship stress, lower wage employment, and wearing high-heeled shoes) warranting a recommended additional 12-visit blocks of care.

    Ref: http://www.icabestpractices.org/chapter-docs.html

    The AUKC now seems to have morphed into ‘Planet Rubicon’, the intention of which is plain to see:

    “we are burning bridges and lighting beacons on the other side”

    “The Rubicon has launched in Europe. 6 Chiropractic College Presidents representing The USA, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.K. Also three of the major associations in the UK, UCA, SCA, and MCA. Lots of excitement about the potential of TIC worldwide.”

    Ref: https://www.facebook.com/mctimoneychiropracticassociation/posts/1014950405244350

    Indeed, coming to the UK in November is a conference called ‘Burning Boundaries, Lighting Beacons’
    http://www.chiropracticmattersconference.com/about.html

    Will the UK chiropractor regulator, the General Chiropractic Council, intervene and stop this insanity? Somehow I doubt it…
    http://edzardernst.com/2015/02/the-uk-general-chiropractic-council-fit-for-purpose/

  • Nothing works like ignorance to inspire confidence. I have found that for the most part, patients tend to mirror the health care practitioners they frequent. With this kind of shared delusion complaints are not that common. Without complaints, regulation just does not happen. These victims strongly resent outside information about their worthless treatments.

  • How many of these anecdotes actually happened? How many of these were a correct diagnosis? The quacks are well known for making up complete diseases so it would not surprise me that they just make up these case histories. How many times do people who visit a quack get told they are fine and no costly treatment is required?

  • CalJam, Mile High, Edinburgh Lectures, Dynamic Growth and now Rubicon and Chiropractic Matters! The same 12+ BS merchants and practice management guru’s over and over and over. (I’m sure you have noted the usual suspects Blue!) If you look at the ‘Burning Boundaries, Lighting Beacons’ site they are promoting their rubbish on chiropractic forums to attract early bookings yet they have no speakers listed on their website:
    http://www.chiropracticmattersconference.com/speakers.html
    We are hammering them and you should also tear them to shreads. This will aid the reform process!

    • interesting!
      can you show us some evidence that you are ‘hammering them’, please?

      • @Edzard
        Here in Australia they have been booted from the universities. Their big hope was Phillip Ebrall and the new faculty at Central Queensland University but they had issues with accreditation and it ended up with evidence based chiropractors cleaning up the mess. Doug Scown of the Chiropractic Trojan Horse blog is now teaching there which is good to see and the subbies worse nightmare. http://chiropractictrojanhorse.blogspot.com.au/
        The subluxationists then tried to set up a private college with the aid of Chiropractic Association of Australia (CAA) and put it to a vote in 2012/13 and the membership voted it down. This seriously rattled the true believers who thought that they held the reins of CAA and could dictate policy. Next some executives from CAA South Australia and CAA National went ahead on their own and have invited a guru from the USA Liam Schubel to help finance the private college in South Australia. Those executives are still part of CAA when they should have been expelled which makes CAA complicit! This issue is still ongoing and we are fighting it!
        Chiropractors like Stephen Perle who has consistently written critiques for decades and has been threatened with libel and had them go after his job. The same has happened here to chiropractors with vexatious complaints to the registration board and libel/slander cases. Simon Singh is not alone! Chiropractic Australia which is the other major association here is also taking an active role and membership is growing fast! (Much to CAA’s annoyance).
        More recently Facebook has become an active arena for calling out the BS merchants and also disseminating research. I m fairly sure Blue is watching those forums! (He is fond of the duck logo). I’ve tried to stimulate discussions on the Vitalist forums but they block me even though I am very polite. They do not like to have their faith questioned!
        In Europe there are positives and negatives. The reforms in Switzerland, Denmark and Norway and their research output are good to see. The move by Life into Rome with McTimmony and Barcelonas support is not good and you definitely need to focus your attention on them. That Italy did not approach the Swiss chiro’s and adopt their model after all they have achieved is a huge mistake! How they go in trying to gain accreditation will be interesting! The subluxationists are feeling threatened and are clumping together which provides you with a perfect target!

    • @Critical Chiro

      “This will aid the reform process”

      I searched the Cochrane systematic review database for ‘chiropractic’. None of the reviews of clinical trials involving chiropractic demonstrate meaningful efficacy for chiropractic in any indication.

      It seems to me that you could aid the reform process better by closing down. Chiropractic is, as Frank Collins already said, pseudo-scientific nonsense.

  • “This will aid the reform process!”

    I’ve asked this before; reform pseudo-scientific nonsense into what?

    How about “re-forming” yourself into a profession with a medical basis?

  • @FC
    He is the medico’s problem:
    “Professor Cohen is a registered medical practitioner with degrees in western medicine, physiology, psychological medicine and biomedical engineering. He is currently Chair of the Australasian Spa and Wellness Association, a Board Member and Past-President (from 2000-2007) of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA), a member of the RACGP-AIMA Joint Working party on Integrative Medicine and a Board Member of the Global Wellness Summit as well as sitting on the Editorial Board of a number of international journals.”
    In reply to “How about “re-forming” yourself into a profession with a medical basis?”
    The universities here have been doing it for 20+ years! One of the reasons the subbies are going to South Australia is that they have lost to the evidence based chiro’s in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. That left them with Northern Territory or South Australia as they couldn’t exist in a state with a strong university based faculty!
    @FO
    The pseudo-scientific nonsense has been shut out of most institutions. The clumping of the vitalist fringe at Rubicon shows this and how threatened they feel! There is so much good research coming out of Europe and also so much crap. Tearing into McTimmony, Barcelona and Life Rome is necessary. Supporting Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and AECC is also necessary! Targeting the 12 or so guru’s who appear at Rubicon, Edinburgh Lectures and ChiroEurope will have a greater impact that carpet bombing the whole profession!
    @Blue Wode
    Targeting the fringe nut jobs is doing good! There is a level of accountability today that was not around 10 years ago and was non-existent 20 years ago!

    • @C_C

      “The pseudo-scientific nonsense has been shut out of most institutions.”

      Leaving aside your definition of ‘most’, please explain what you do that is not pseudoscientific, or which does not fall within the ambit of ‘physiotherapy’

    • Quote
      “Frank Odds on Tuesday 05 April 2016 at 11:40
      @Critical Chiro

      “This will aid the reform process”

      I searched the Cochrane systematic review database for ‘chiropractic’. None of the reviews of clinical trials involving chiropractic demonstrate meaningful efficacy for chiropractic in any indication.

      It seems to me that you could aid the reform process better by closing down. Chiropractic is, as Frank Collins already said, pseudo-scientific nonsense.”

      Well?

  • Interesting about “physiotherapy”. What is it? Little or any of it is “scientific”. It can be considered nothing better than “hands on homeopathy” and “shake, bake and fake”. If as much time was spent by Prof. Ernst on the scientific validity of “physiotherapy” to give this anti-chiropractic site “balance”, then this site would have some semblance of legitimacy. Prof. Ernst will cry. “I am an expert on CAM, so I do not discuss things like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. That type of reaction is a cop-out. Step up, Prof. Ernst and put some legitimate balance into this site.

    • @ GibleyGibley on Wednesday 06 April 2016 at 20:56
      (New Zealand chiropractor who will not disclose his/her name, probably because doing so will cause embarrassment about all of the charlatanry performed in the name of “chiropractic”.)

      “Step up, Prof. Ernst and put some legitimate balance into this site.”

      I cannot count the number of times the good prof has stated the purpose of his blog, however, like virtually all chiros, you only absorb what doesn’t create cognitive dissonance. Instead of criticising the prof, why don’t you exercise some introspection and stop invoking numerous logical fallacies?

  • Not even physiotherapists can describe what they are or what they do!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27033780

    • @ GibleyGibley on Wednesday 06 April 2016 at 21:35
      (New Zealand chiropractor who will not disclose his/her name, probably because doing so will cause embarrassment about all of the charlatanry performed in the name of “chiropractic”.)

      This is what the study concluded;

      CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS OF KEY FINDINGS:
      Descriptions of interventions in physiotherapy RCTs are typically incomplete. Authors and journals should aim for more complete descriptions of interventions in physiotherapy trials.

      As I wrote, above, when will you read the text, rather than your completely skewed take on it?

  • @FO
    Chronic back pain and rehab! There are dinosaurs in physio and chiro that need update their skills. This blog from a physio is refreshingly candid and accurate on this topic!
    http://physicaltherapyfitnessandnutrition.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/physical-therapists-vs-chiropractors.html

    • @C_C
      “Chronic back pain and rehab!” No, no, those are conditions, not what you do about them. I’m asking what you do specifically as a chiropractor. Chiropractic is a pseudo-science because it is traditionally based on neural energy flow theories [ref. your link in your last post]. Spinal adjustment is required to optimize the flow of energy through the body.

      We know you don’t call the blockages of energy flow ‘subluxations’ (as about 40% of your colleagues do [ibid]) but when you manipulate spines do you consider you are optimizing energy flows?

      Are you opposed to vaccination? Drugs? (Chiropractors practise a drug-free approach [ibid].)

      If none of the above, as I’ve said before, why not be accurate and describe yourself as a physical therapist? The thrust of your linked article is that there is little difference in practice. I fully recognize the woeful lack of an evidence base for physio, but at least it isn’t tarnished with a historical reputation for medical crackpottery. I can only presume you fear you’d lose too many of your valuable, gullible clientele if you changed horses in the name of science.

      Only about 5% of chiropractors are strongly evidence-based [ibid]. I don’t know the equivalent proportion for physical therapists, but at least they don’t view spinal alignment as the universal problem requiring solution.

      • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27047694/

        Just a bit of research. Before you get on your “high horses”, Franks Odds and Collins, could you please give us all an indication of your education in science, especially neurophysiology.

        • @ GibleyGibley on Thursday 07 April 2016 at 22:50,
          (New Zealand chiropractor who will not disclose his/her name, probably because doing so will cause embarrassment about all of the charlatanry performed in the name of “chiropractic”.)

          “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27047694/
          Abstract
          Objectives. Studies have shown decreases in N30 somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) peak amplitudes following spinal manipulation (SM) of dysfunctional segments in subclinical pain (SCP) populations.”

          Que? Spinal manipulation in subclinical populations? How daft is that? I didn’t bother to look but are all of the participants chiros?

          “Just a bit of research. Before you get on your “high horses”, Franks Odds and Collins, could you please give us all an indication of your education in science, especially neurophysiology.”

          Why do you ask, Two Dogs? What is the point of the question? One might equally ask; what is your education in science, particularly relevant given your occupation faffing about with backs (thinking it does far more than reason would dictate) with no basis in science?

          Two Dogs, when reading was invented, it gave humans a capacity for the transfer of thoughts and ideas without firsthand participation. I’m sorry if this news is new to you, but please accept it does occur.

      • No I am not treating Subluxations of optimizing energy flows. I work in a medical centre and I am heavily wired into the local medical community. I am fully vaccinated as is my family.
        I am not a physio but the lines between the professions are becoming increasingly blurred. I utilize a multimodal approach to chronic pain and rehab and I constantly communicate with my valuable gullible doctors as they refer a hell of a lot more patients! By the way they also hold me accountable! My doctors view me as the chronic back pain specialist and not a generalist like the physio’s. This focused message/marketing is very important! I know you will jump on the word “marketing” but that is what all professions do. I market my skills, knowledge and expertise and I have been developing them for 25+ years!
        I am also in communication with many physio’s and they are equally annoyed with the hubris within their profession, the business as usual attitude and resistance to change. They are also currently going through an image crisis!
        I think that the regulars on this site would have greater impact if they focus on the 12+ guru’s and influence peddlers within chiropractic as I have found the focused message to be very effective! Good for business as well!

        • @ Criticaql_Chiro on Friday 08 April 2016 at 02:45

          “I am not a physio but the lines between the professions are becoming increasingly blurred.”

          Why is that? it seems like encroachment from one side far more than the other.

          “My doctors view me as the chronic back pain specialist and not a generalist like the physio’s.”

          A specialist for which there is little to no evidence in Cochrane?

          “I think that the regulars on this site would have greater impact if they focus on the 12+ guru’s and influence peddlers within chiropractic as I have found the focused message to be very effective! Good for business as well!”

          Now we know why you won’t give up the chiro nonsense.

    • Hmmm… Critical Chiro’s ‘refreshingly candid and accurate’ link has been removed; within just a week after it was posted. Did someone decide it was too candid?

      You can read the original article at this link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:B3YLYjUpOlgJ:physicaltherapyfitnessandnutrition.blogspot.com/2016/04/physical-therapists-vs-chiropractors.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

  • You made one significant error – Chiropractic IS a religion. Vitalism is a faith assertion, so I can only conclude that Ernst might be a religious apologist. Teaching at CQU is literally like this – Even if I inform the students that vitalism is a faith assertion (a belief not only without evidence but always contradictory to it – unwarranted belief) they will assert their right to believe it. I agree it’s their right. Then I tell them that they have no right to use that assertion in practice due to the fact that it’s unethical to use faith as a clinical tool. Problem. It’s then conflated with everything form holism to emergence which interestingly was propelled by postmodernism and sociology – Grrrr. Faith is a problem around the world. This profession is just a more particular microcosm of it.

    • Vitalism is a faith assertion? Really? I’d have thought it was simple common-sense. The hilarious online skeptic encyclopaedia ‘wikipedia’ states ‘Vitalism is a discredited scientific hypothesis that “living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things”. Helloo? So there’s no fundamental difference between a creature which is alive, and one which is dead? Aside from the pong after a few days, I beg to differ. And who or what ‘discredited’ the OBVIOUS FACT that there’s quite a difference between living and dead things? Bechtel-the dude who wrote these words in a short down-loadable opinion-piece with a few references, is not a Nobel Laureate. Chiropractic has been around for over 120 years, so it’s probably time to get used to it. It’s not going away anytime soon.

      • @ Keith Livingstone on Wednesday 24 August 2016 at 12:26

        Keith is a pretend doctor (ie, chiro) who seems to live in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia and runs a witchery in Cobram, also in Victoria. He also does running training.

        Helloo, Keith. Yes, vitalism is a faith assertion. As a chiro, I am amazed you don’t know that. Where do you think the ridiculous notion originated? None other, than the chief charlatan, DD; yep, the inventor of your faith.

  • @Keith Livingstone

    Your common sense is misleading you: Wikipedia is spot on. ‘Vitalism is a discredited scientific hypothesis that “living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things”. You’re not paying attention to the bit I’ve highlighted in bold. Vitalism believes living things contain ‘some non-physical element’ (a ‘spark’ or a ‘soul’ — something ‘spiritual’) that confers the property of life.

    Of course there’s ‘quite a difference between living and dead things’. Living things are fed by oxygen and nutrients that sustain the activity of billions of component cells and their metabolically active parts. When they’re deprived of oxygen the fire goes out. That’s all there is to it. You can’t (usually) restore a dead thing to life because there are just too many broken, microscopic parts.

    Or maybe your common sense tells you that a burning fire possesses some non-physical ‘something’, perhaps a spiritual entity, that maintains the flame. When the fire dies out it loses its ‘soul’ or ‘vital spark’. For thousands of years people believed that a god was required for the sun to rise every morning and to set at night. That’s also a version of ‘vitalism’.

    Fortunately, the tool of science helps us to make constant progress in sorting out reality from make-believe. If it took millennia for humans to disabuse themselves of the need for something special to animate everyday things like the sun, the fact that the nonsense of chiropractic has been with us for a mere 120 years is piddling. I’m confident that, in time, whatever chiropractic offers that may be truly beneficial will find its way into medical practice. Meanwhile, folk like you who prefer their common sense over reason will continue to fly the erroneous flag of belief in vitalism.

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