Narratives for Chiropractic Patient Education

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
March 19, 2001
Joseph M. Flesia, D.C., co-founded and is president of
Renaissance International, a chiropractic practice-building organization founded in 1977 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Palmer’s College’s current president, Guy F. Riekeman, D.C., was the other co-founder.) One flyer in my collection promises that its seminars will demonstrate “an ethical approach to practice building based on patient education” and “how to increase your practice by responding to the needs of the huge “well-patient” market. Another flyer states that from about 1968 through 1975, Flesia limited his practice to “spinal pathomechanics of the vertebral subluxation complex” and averaged over 360 patients per day.
In 1989, the company advertised a “special seminar price — only $1995 — for the complete Renaissance video program that regularly sells for $3,500.00.” The flyer stated: “Learn how to use everything that is built into the Renaissence videotape program into your practice. (At least 500 – 1000 Well Patient Care visits a week in addition to your Sick Patient Care/Insurance practice.) If you have the program and are not seeing this many patients, it is simply a matter of understanding and implementation.” It also noted that “3.5% of people see Chiropractors in any given year for Sick Patient Care. Whereas 81% of the people are available for Well Patient Care in your office, if you just give them the opportunity.”
In the June 1999 issue of
The Chiropractic Journal, Flesia wrote:

I believe that your entire office procedure and all of your patient education programs should be focused on the severity of vertebral subluxation. When chiropractic patients realize the serious trouble they are in with vertebral subluxation, they will be better able to follow through, even if it interferes with their usual daily activities.

Renaissance has developed an entire “clinical” and “general” patient education office experience that builds, procedure by procedure, a remarkable respect for vertebral subluxation and the damage it causes patients on every level.

Every phrase — and at times every word — has been sifted, evaluated and ground through the mill of everyday office practice. This subluxation-based wellness procedure takes patients further on their journey to optimum compliance (and many to wellness) than anything else I have seen.


In May 1999, Flesia delivered a guest lecture during the eighth-trimester philosophy course at Palmer College. The accompanying handout — pictured above — included five pages of “patient education” scripts that can be used or adapted to persuade patients that frequent chiropractic care is important throughout life. Many chiropractic leaders would like you to believe that “mainstream chiropractic” is no longer grounded in cultist beliefs. Do these scripts strike you as science-based?

MAY, 1999      PHILOSOPHY 105

1. Mary. You sure look like a bright light bulb today. Have I thanked you for being a wonderful patent and human being. It’s patients like you who make our world a better place to live in. I am proud of you. Now, lay down and give you another chiropractic adjustment to get it even brighter.

2. Billy, your light bulb is dim today. Let me examine you and then give you an adjustment to get your light bulb shining brightly. The best way to live is as a bright light bulb. We have agreed on that, Billy. I have found the more adjustments you receive to your rheostat, the brighter your light bulb becomes and the longer it stays bright.

3. Have I told you how much I respect you as a patient and as a human being lately, Harold? Well, I just want you to know that it is because of people like you that I know our town is a better place to live in. Thank you for your daily contributions to humanity. Now lay down and lets be sure we keep your beacon shining brightly.

4. I read that the Army has been measuring the infra red radiation over this part of the United States. They found that the heat has been highest over our part of the state than in many years. Well, what that means is that all these adjustments we have been giving over the past few years has been turning up everyone’s energy levels so much that it almost blew out the Department of the Army’s heat measuring instruments. At last, the Army has proven the benefit of regular chiropractic care. Now lay down and let’s get your energy turned up.

5. Suzie, this adjustment is gong to be so powerful that when I am through I want you to literally run out of the office to your car and you will be able to stick your finger in the ignition and start your car without using the keys. I can feel your energy tingling on my fingertips already. Let me tell you, Suzie, adjustments are powerful things!

6. As you palpate the lower lumbars with an older male patent startle them somewhat by speaking their name louder than usual. John! . . . Do you know where these nerves go (as you are on 4-5L spinous)? You will get his attention and his wife’s if she is in the room. These nerves go to you reproductive organs. Then look at the wife and tell John that when you get through adjusting these nerves, he will feel so good he will chase his wife (or call her by ] name) 3 times around the adjustment table before you leave the office. Are you ready, John?

7. Sally, did you see the blond child about 3 years old in the reception room just before you came in? His name is Scott. He first came in a year ago with epilepsy. Within 11 months it has totally disappeared. Chiropractic works miracles, Sally. Every child deserves a chance at becoming a brighter light bulb. Makes sense, doesn’t it Sally? Maybe not every child’s epilepsy will go away. However, every child will be a brighter light bulb.

8. Nicole, the little boy that just left this adjusting room was born comatose and later they found out he had major seizures twice a year. Each seizure worse than the previous one. At the age of five he died because of his last seizure. Then, a few minutes after being pronounced dead he came back to life. The neurosurgeon said it was a miracle from God. And that miracles don’t strike twice in the same place. He told the parents when Christopher has his next seizure to keep him home so he can me in his parents’ arms. Six months later I get a call from the distraught parents because Christopher is getting ready to have his last seizure and die. With great resistance I gave him a chiropractic adjustment and instead of having his seizure and dying he came out of his coma, got off the adjusting table and went to the door and asked his parents if they could go home now? He never had another seizure and is an excellent student in school and is normal in every way. Everyone deserves regular chiropractic care, Nicole.

9. Mark, did you see the young girl with the bright red hair in the reception room? Two years ago her grandparents brought her in because her left arm was only one third the length of the other arm. After 9 months of regular chiropractic adjustments her arm grew out to 97% of its normal size. I’ll bet you didn’t notice any difference. You can be sure she will have weekly chiropractic adjustments for the rest of her life. And be proud of it. Mark, I’ll never know why everyone doesn’t come in for care. I know you do your part to get the whole town in. Thanks. Now lay down and let chiropractic works its miracles on you.

10. Charise, the young man you were sitting next to in the reception room was born with infected kidneys which spread to the tubes leading to the bladder and into the bladder. After 11 years of constant infection he was scheduled for surgery in 3 months. They were going to take out one kidney completely and 2/3 of the other one. Both tubes leading to the bladder and the bladder. He would have to wear a urine bag and the doctors said his life would be in God’s hands. Lewis came in for chiropractic adjustments for the three months prior to his surgery. When he went in for his pre-op examination they ran all the tests twice. You see, Charise, his body had healed the entire problem while under care here for three months. They performed the surgery anyway and sure enough the kidneys were perfect, the tubes leading to the bladder perfect and the bladder perfect. Every adult and child in the world should be under regular chiropractic care.

11. I mentioned in my lecture that it is best for you to refer patients to the lecture first, rather than refer them in for care, Betty, because when you refer them in for care, they expect me to pull off a miracle and cure them of their problem quicker than anything else and for less. That’s not what chiropractic is. Sending them in to the talk first allows them to find out firsthand what chiropractic is and if it fits their needs without spending any money and before any commitment. So, be sure to send the whole town in to my talk on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm. Between you and I, Mike, we will make this the best town in the United States. Thanks for being such a good patient.

12. Pat, you remember the 4 phases of subluxation degeneration I told you about in the lecture and you saw in the video. I explained in your report of findings when I first saw you that you were a phase 3. Let’s look at the chart again and see what phase 3 looks like. Remember how your bones were kinked and there was a great deal of degeneration just like in the poster of phase 3. You mentioned you wanted to do what ever was possible in helping this problem because you know that the condition of your spine reflects the condition of your nerve system that controls health in your body. Phase 3’s take time, Pat. Lay down and lets give you another adjustment to make you healthier.

13. Remember, I mentioned the vertebral subluxation complex as a condition that was spinal injury with nerve damage. And that this vertebral subluxation complex damaged the spine and complete body health. The reason for ongoing adjustments is to help your body to correct as much of your vertebral subluxation complex as possible so your spine and your entire body is healthier. It seems everyone has this vertebral subluxation complex making them unhealthy on every level, mentally and physically. I sure am glad we are working on yours so you can be a better human being and a better Dad.

14. The last time you were in I said that the vertebral subluxation complex was spinal injury with nerve damage causing ill health. The way it does this is to interfere with the nerve system causing static over the communication lines of the nerves. The brain is the central control system of your body. It has all the knowledge necessary for you to live a long healthy and happy life. The vertebral subluxation complex interferes with the brain’s ability to talk with the organs of your body so that they don’t know what to do. They then function wrong and get sick. This malfunction creates poisons which spread to all parts of the body through the blood supply and
you whole body gets sick chiropractic spinal adjustments correct the vertebral subluxation complex allowing your brain to talk to and control all the organs of your body so they know what to do every moment, don’t get sick and make you healthier all over.

15. Did I mention to you that the vertebral subluxation complex can start during the birth process. Research has shown that during the birth process the average amount of pull is between 90 – 140 lbs. Other research shows that 90 – 120 lbs of pull on the head during the birth process can cause death immediately, by decapitation or by pulling the spinal cord away from the brain. The reason we are not all dead from this pull is that some of us can take the 90 ­ 140 lbs of pull and survive. Not be totally normal — only survive. Can you imagine the children who do not die at birth? Instead they get the vertebral subluxation complex that can plague them for a life time causing all kinds of problems that are resistance to other forms of care. Every child should be examined immediately after birth.

16. Remember. In the lecture I said that people come to this office for four main reasons — symptom relief, correction of a specific condition, prevention and for a better world. You now know that the last two are the best reasons. The reason is that the healthier you are to start with, the healthier you can become. John, lets fill our community with bright light bulbs.

17. Remember, Jan, that the definition of health from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary was that health is a condition of optimum physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of diseases and infirmities. That’s different from what most people think. Most people think that health is feeling good, or not taking medications, or not hurting, or not needing surgery. As you can see, pain relief and disease control are only a very small part of what health actually is. There is a greater dimension to health than merely the absence of disease and infirmities. Chiropractic explores all areas of health in order to give you not merely the absence of disease but the best possible total health you can achieve.

18. The last time you were in we talked about the definition of health from a medical dictionary. Now let’s look at Webster’s dictionary. It states that health is a condition of wholeness in which all the organs are functioning 100% all the time we can see that the health formula reveals that we must have all the parts. And that these parts must be functioning 100% right all the time. That means then, if we are missing some parts we cannot be as healthy as we would be if we had all the parts and they were functioning 100%. There is nothing that chiropractic can do about the parts that are missing except to allow the parts you have now to function as close to 100% as possible. There is nothing that we can do about the time that has passed before you knew what health was. There is, however, something we can do about today and your future by allowing you to be as healthy as you can possibly be.

19. Sometimes patients wonder about this thing I call a bright light bulb or real good health. Let’s go to the Hunzas to see what the body can do. The Hunzas are a group of about 42,000 people living in Hunzacut, a country just north of India. They live to be 120-140 years old. With no diseases, no medications, no doctors, have children easier than having an easy bowel movement, are very happy, and have sex frequently at and after 120 year of age. Now that’s what I call good health. Maybe you or I can’t reach the level of health of the Hunzas, however we can find the road leading to that level of health. First we must correct the vertebral subluxation complex from birth for many generations. As well as eat right, exercise regularly. Think right and develop an exquisite respect for the natural process. Regular chiropractic adjustments paves the way for this road. Nothing else does this. I am glad you are a regular patient in our office, ken.

20. We talked about the Hunzas and how perfectly health they are. I should have said were. As soon as medicine made its way to Hunzacut the health went down so that today only 6 people have made it to 100. They die at the same age we do and have all the diseases in the medical book. Medicine charts a route for live that is dependent on out side material. Medicine charts a life for us of averages. These averages are taken from a society completely sick with the vertebral subluxation complex. I would rather chart my life far above the averages given to us by medicine. Chiropractic does this.

21. Science has discovered a condition known as the vertebral subluxation complex which is the most severe interference known today to your nervous systems and, therefore, to the function of your body; forcing you to have less than optimum physical, mental, and social well-being and allowing your body against your will to become fertile ground for diseases and infirmities: the vertebral subluxation complex — the most serious interference to the function in your body that we know of. Unfortunately, it has reached epidemic proportions throughout the world.

22. We talked about the vertebral subluxation complex the last time you were in, Sam. That’s what chiropractors work with. A body without the vertebral subluxation complex is like the Hunzas — normal. You might even say they are a bright light bulb. A person with the vertebral subluxation complex — and it seems that everyone has it — is sick. Sick even though they may feel good. They are a dim bulb. They have an accident waiting to happen in their body. And happen it will.

Chiropractic is the clinical science of finding and eliminating the vertebral subluxation complex as much as possible in each human being. They immediately become brighter light bulbs. And on their lifelong chiropractic journey they become increasingly brighter light bulbs. That’s a much better future than waiting for an internal time bomb to go off at some unpredictable time. With a whole society of bright light bulbs, Sam, we will have a much better world. Now, lay down and lets do you part for a better body and a better world tomorrow.

23. Melissa, today let me introduce you to a condition that science has found to be the most serious interference to function, and therefore to life and health, known today — the vertebral subluxation complex

Interference to the control centers of the brain and the tissue cells of the body always result in abnormal spinal function, abnormal body function and diseases and infirmities you should not otherwise have. There is a condition known as the vertebral subluxation complex — the most serious interference between the control centers of the brain and the tissue cells of our body that we know of. We mentioned this earlier in the talk. The vertebral subluxation complex — a condition in which the tiny bones of the spine move improperly or become improperly aligned, to the extent of actually causing an interference or short circuit in the nerve system between the control centers of the brain and the tissue cells of the body, causing malfunction and a lack of 100% health, leading to less than optimum physical, mental and social well-being, forcing the body to be open to diseases and infirmities it should not have.

24. It is common knowledge that we abuse our bodies terribly through our lifetime — the spine receives much of this abuse causing the small bones of the spine to be misaligned and to move abnormally, resulting in the vertebral subluxation complex. Many chiropractors say that you haven’t had a chance since birth.

Even before you were born you were subjected to the severely damaging effect of drugs taken by mom, of toxins in our atmosphere and in our foods that come through the placenta, conducive to the production of the stresses that produce the vertebral subluxation complex. Interfering with your ability to develop into a 100% healthy baby.

If you make it though the birth process, (and some do not). You will see what is perhaps one of the worst c
auses of the vertebral subluxation complex in the civilized world.

After the child goes through the birth tragedy, there is no doubt in the mind of many scientists the child becomes the victim of the vertebral subluxation complex, continuing to reduce the child’s ability to be healthy and normal the child will have diseases and infirmities he shouldn’t have. The child will have less than an optimum physical, mental, and social well-being. He will deteriorate to an average sick adult. I hope when your children grow a bit older they realize the tragedies you have saved them by having them under care from birth. I am proud of you both.

25. Molly, if we make it though the birth process, we encounter the many VSC producing activities during the difficult childhood years. Falling, fights with other children, wrenching our necks, severely twisting our limbs, and other very common incidents too numerous to mention cause additional VSC in the child already weakened from the vertebral subluxation complex caused at birth.

We then enter our teenage years weakened and sick as a results of VSC. Yes, we are ready for new injuries. The sports that teenagers participate in, driving a care with the sudden jerks and jolts and stops, as we embark upon the stresses of adulthood, the stresses of anger and irritation, the stresses of environmental pollution, from the air and the water we drink. The foods we eat, the stresses of accidents, of slips and jerks and jolts, the stresses of blood and body pollution from the prescriptions and over the counter medications we take, the stresses of improper physical posture, of excessive exertion, fatigue. Of having too many jobs, and of too many bills. All of these produce more VSC damage on a body already weakened from years of the vertebral subluxation complex. With the vertebral subluxation complex silently eating away at our ability to be healthy and to manifest our inborn potentials, no wonder normalcy eludes us.

26. Yes, Alex, chiropractors correct the tragedy of the vertebral subluxation complex… An interference to the function of the brain and nerve system. An interference to that life and intelligence within you that grew you from two tiny cells in 220 days, that keeps you alive, that gives you be better function all of the time, that heals and mends you when necessary, allowing you once again to express a greater degree of physical, mental, and social well being. This, naturally, results in a more harmonious balance within people, their relationship with their fellow beings and within their environment, and affects all realms of their life existence.

27. There is no doubt that chiropractic care should begin at childbirth. It allows that child to grow into a state of better health, love and with an enthusiasm for life more than you could possibly imagine. Many scientists and authorities agree.

Dr. Abraham Towbin, M.D. – from Harvard Medical School tells us that 7 of the 8 of the sudden infant crib death autopsies he did death was caused by spinal injury with spinal cord damage. He also tells us that there are 4 categories of people from the birth process. The first are those who dies immediately from the birth trauma. The second are those who dies within a few hours or days. The third are those who take a year or so to dies from the birth trauma. And the fourth are the many who live with major neurological problems or with slight neurological problems. That seems to be all those who do not die. I am glad you bring your children in to be bright light bulbs.

28. An article in a research journal in 1987 reaffirms that child birth can cause sudden infant crib death and that it also can cause non lethal spinal injury with nerve damage or the vertebral subluxation complex. There is no doubt that every child should be under care for the correction or prevention of the vertebral subluxation complex whether it is cause from birth or not.

Another article in a major medical textbook, Spinal Injury, chapter 18 on the “birth injury” states that spinal cord injury from the birth process is more frequent that has been originally thought (10%), it may be as high as 30%. Remember for a diagnosis to be medically made of damage from the birth process the infant must have very severe symptoms or even die. The vertebral subluxation complex is much more subtle so misses medical diagnosis every time. If 10-30% of the birth processes result is death or grotesque problems you can imagine how many infants are the victims of the vertebral subluxation complex eating away at their lives.

29. The research of J.M. Duncan, M.D. revealed that 120 lbs. pull on a newborn infant cadaver’s head decapitates the body. 30 lbs. less — 90 lbs. pull on a newborn cadaver’s head decerebrates the brain from the spinal cord.

Both of these causes of death in the newborn cause instant death. Both exhibit all of the signs of the vertebral subluxation complex yes, abnormal spinal biomechanical function can cause death. We cannot treat this, however, it does show that VSC can be lethal. It makes me wonder how much 60 lbs. pull, or even 30 lbs. pull can damage the spine, causing VSC. I’m glad you children are under care. You are giving them a gift that can never be measured. A gift of a healthier future. You are great parents and I congratulate you both.

30. The research of Gottfreid Gutmann, M.D., shows that 80% of the disturbed children he examined orthopedically shortly after birth, or as infants, were suffering from subluxation of the first bone in the neck, causing all manner of diseases. Some very severe brain problems and other conditions like upper respiratory infections. To correct this problem, Dr. Gutmann gave what we call a chiropractic adjustment and the children returned to normal. His associate selected 1250 infants 5 days old or less at random and upon examination the 211 of these children considered disturbed or sick 95% had a cervical strain (vertebral subluxation complex). After spinal adjustments they returned to normal. In some areas of research medicine, they know that chiropractic and its care is good. So good they are beginning to do it themselves. Of course, they are seriously behind because they just discovered chiropractic. The main point, Suzanne, is that you and your family are under regular chiropractic care.

31. Dr. Tapio Videman, M.D. has been doing research on joint degeneration for many years. His studies show that the slight “vertebral subluxation complex” causes degeneration in the joint to be permanent after 2-3 weeks. The reason we see you every week is partly because of this. If we left you on a once a month check-up and you had a nonpainful episode of the vertebral subluxation complex it would be permanent before you got back for your check up. Same thing with every three weeks and every two weeks. 90, once a week seems the safest way to go at this point. O.K., Carol, see you next week. Tell 12 people about chiropractic today.

32. In our experience. Over the past years we have found that there are three types of patients.

One, the uncooperative patient: no one can get along with this person, not even himself. We do the best we can with these people, and even then it is always frustrating. They don’t like doctors of any kind. They don’t pay and say nasty things about chiropractic at every opportunity.

Two. The sick care patient: these are fine patients who have a specific condition, ache or pain. And are only interested in help with this specific problem. They pay regular sick patient care fees. They enjoy chiropractic care, the office and what I do and they are always busy referring their friends in for sick patient care.

Three, the well care patient: these patients are specifically referred into this pre-care lecture, first. They are healthy people who are interested in learning about their true health potential, and the role of chiropractic in the improvement of their “wellness” for a lifetime, with their family. This represents 81% of the people in America. Well care patients have the opportunity and privilege of participating in our well patient care family fee system.

We try to help every one even if they don’t try to help themselves.

33. Sally, as a regular chiropractic patient, you are a part of the informed minority. You now understand the vertebral subluxation complex and its tragic effects on the life and health of every human being.

So, now you have a huge responsibility. That is to tell the uninformed majority the chiropractic story. Also, your responsibility as a patient is to urge your family and friends to come in to hear the lecture I give every Tuesday at 7:30 PM, and to bring your children in so that they too can have the opportunity to eliminate the bonds of an oppressive, VSC sick existence. We want all people in our community to have the opportunity to begin their exciting journey to better health and a better life expression and to, therefore. Do their part in allowing our world to be a better place to live today, and for the generations to come.

You know Sally, I take what I do very seriously. Chiropractic is the most, next to my family, the most important thing in the world. Otherwise I’d just be soliciting patients. You know I don’t need more patients. They are coming out of my ears as it is. I need a better world and you can help me get it for all of us.

I have the facility and will make the time for the education of all of the people in our community concerning the vertebral subluxation complex and now it can be eliminated, and I have the facility and will make the time to all the people of our community for the effective elimination of the vertebral subluxation complex.

34. I am sure you have noticed the pamphlets, brochures and reports in the reception room. They are there to be read by every patient. So, we ask that you read them. This will allow you to understand more fully what we are doing in this office and as important my dreams and vision for you, this town and the planet. You will find the literature throughout the waiting room. Please take the pamphlets home with you and when you are through with them, we ask that you share them with a friend so that they too may become acquainted with chiropractic. As a matter of fact, the one I want you to take home today is ____. On you next visit pick lip the Life reprint on how the child is formed before birth and add to your respect and admiration of the wisdom within each of us that made us and that keeps us alive, healing and functioning.

Also, I get requests to participate in community lectures, radio and TV shows. I try to accommodate as many as possible. Should you have requests such as this, or should you know of anyone who does, please let me know. Or if you are a member of any organization in town and they need a speaker, tell them about me. If you know any teachers or college professors who would like me to speak to their class on chiropractic and natural health and healing let them know that I do that when time permits. Thanks, Jessica, between you and I we can change the world.

Response from Palmer Faculty Member

The author was a guest lecturer, not a faculty member at Palmer College, and the narratives were offered as a handout of his personal examples accompanying several lectures to one class. This took place only one term. The feedback from Palmer students and Palmer faculty was at the time such that the material was voluntarily excluded by the author in subsequent lectures, and was never presented again. Palmer College does not teach or condone patient education or practice-building methods that are not ethical and scientifically-based. The quick withdrawal of these materials is corroboration that the modern chiropractic student and the faculty in our college are more sophisticated than some of the information on your site would seem to reflect.

  Victor Strang, D.C.
Professor, Palmer College

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This page was revised on March 19, 2001.