Do You Believe or Do You Understand?
Chiropractic care is often misrepresented in the media and is sometimes met with skepticism.
Have you ever questioned chiropractic care? A friend of mine who is very well known in the world of chiropractic academics and policy was being driven to an airport in a limousine and the usual driver/passenger banter took place. The driver asked what my friend did for a living and my friend told the driver that he was a doctor of chiropractic. The driver responded with, “Bah, I don’t believe in chiropractic care.”
My friend, like me and every other doctor of chiropractic, had heard this countless times before but something snapped in him that day and he said to the driver, “Pull over.”
“What??” said the driver.
My friend said, “You heard me – pull over.”
The driver did so and my friend said, “You see that hotel over there?”
The driver said he saw the building. “Good,” my friend said. “Now let’s imagine you and I go to the roof of that hotel and jump off and just before we jump off the roof we proclaim in loud fervent voices that we don’t believe in gravity. Do you think that gravity will care that you don’t believe in it? Or will we die when we hit the pavement?”
The driver agreed that he and my friend would end up a bloody mess on the pavement.
“So why do you think the science of chiropractic cares whether or not you believe in it?” The driver made that face we make when something is suddenly made clear to us. My friend went on, “What you are saying is that you do not understand that chiropractic works. But just like not understanding that gravity works has no affect on gravity, not understanding that chiropractic works has no effect on chiropractic. If I told you that I did not believe in dentists would that affect whether or not dentistry worked?”
The driver agreed that it would not and having made his point my friend resumed his ride to the airport.
The driver told him upon arrival at the terminal that he never had a passenger like that before.
Does anyone ever say they believe in gynecology or orthopedics or podiatry? Of course not. So why is it that we hear that phrase used regarding chiropractic or nutrition or acupuncture? I do not know for certain but I believe it to be a result of a long standing campaign to delegitimatize and denigrate any health care profession not controlled by corporate medicine.
It is a form of passive aggressive condescension that many of my patients have relayed back to me following conversations with their medical doctor – “If you believe that chiropractic/nutrition/acupuncture works for you, that’s okay.” Not only is that insulting, it’s scientifically inaccurate. Chiropractic has more science behind it than many accepted medical practices that insurance carriers happily dole out hundreds of millions of dollars for.
I want to make it clear that I appreciate it when my patients and others tell me that they “believe in” chiropractic care. I know that they mean it to be a compliment and an exclamation of support for me and my profession. What I ask is that instead of using the word ‘believe’, use the word “understand”. So rather than saying, “I believe in chiropractic care” instead say, “I understand how chiropractic care works.”