From 1992 to 1996, when I attended Life College in Marietta, Georgia, all chiropractic students were required to attend a one-hour class called “Chiropractic Philosophy.” Officially, it was a pass-or-fail class with grades based solely on attendance. Unofficially, it was called “assembly” and loathed by many students who resented forced attendance at a program lasting over an hour. Fifteen minutes before the assigned time, long lines of students and faculty could be seen slowly moving toward the gymnasium.
Most assemblies began like a high school football rally. As the college band played in the background, the basketball team’s sleek, nimble dancers would treat us to a show. Following this was a series of announcements about various sports events, fundraising activities, and local political candidates we were encouraged to support.
Then the main speaker would come out. Often it was the college’s president, Sid Williams, D.C.; but other speakers included fellow Dynamic Essentials chiropractors, local politicians seeking our support, or enterprising speakers hoping to sell books, seminars, or other products to the students.
Sid was officially the “teacher” of this class. On the podium, he spoke as a trained professional. His delivery has been likened to the well-known evangelist Oral Roberts. He made frequent eye contact with the audience, varied the tone of his voice, and made sweeping hand gestures. Several times he scowled, yelled, or gave forlorn looks while discussing the misdeeds of a group of students that he publicly chastised from the podium. Sometimes he would also make jokes.
Many students told me that they hated assembly because Sid’s speeches were repetitious and always ran anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour overtime. Nevertheless, every time he walked to the podium, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
Sid believes that chiropractors should be the primary-health care providers to the nation. He agreed with B.J. Palmer that manipulation would empty the asylums, prisons, and hospitals. He said that by releasing the innate vital force, natural immunity would be raised, restoring homeostasis. The reason chiropractic had not yet become widely utilized for health, we were told, was because of a medical conspiracy. He stated that eventually medical doctors who believed in the germ theory would all commit suicide when they realized that the most important factor to health was homeostasis. Nearly all the students appeared to accept his teaching that manipulations were not just for back pain but were a necessary part of maintaining health.
Sid used some of his time to teach us tricks of the trade. He told us personal stories, like how he took a job as a traveling salesperson selling aluminum pots and pans to pay for chiropractic college. He said he didn’t become successful until he started believing in his products. We were told to lavish love on our patients with firm handshakes and by saying “Glad ta see ya.” We were advised on how to use leading questions to plant uncertainty into a person’s mind, hopefully recruiting them and their family as patients. This was condoned because we were saving them from “killer subluxations” that they didn’t even know they had.
Sid told us that meditation and visualization were powerful. Many times he led us in a meditation or demonstrated a breathing exercise. The most notable was the “Money Hum,” which he said was designed to help us achieve fabulous success as chiropractors by getting over our school-induced poverty consciousness. Sid said that the reason people fail in practice was not due to tangible reasons like excessive student loans or lack of business experience, but to a bad mindset and lack of belief in the chiropractic “Big Idea” that everyone needs an adjustment. Sid instructed us:
Stand up everyone. Close your eyes and bend your knees to get low to the ground. Now I want you to start humming. MMMMMMMMMMMM. Visualize piles and piles of dollar bills up to your chin. Visualize a line of patients outside the door of your clinic waiting to be adjusted. You can almost feel the money, touch it. Now, grab a big handful and thrust your hand up in a fist towards the sky while saying MMMMMONEY!!
The exercise would be repeated three times to be sure everyone got it right.
Sid’s other big topic was criticizing medically oriented chiropractic schools and doctors. He opposed chiropractors using any treatments other than manipulation. He joked about it in assembly, but the school actually outlawed the use of all methods of treatment it deemed medically oriented in both the student and outpatient clinics.
Sid apparently never wore a watch, and the assemblies often cut into our lunch period and academic classes. Eating was not permitted at assembly. The only surefire way to shut Sid up was a thunderous ovation at the top of the hour.
After graduating from Life College, I concluded that my education had not adequately prepared me to practice chiropractic in a scientific manner. In 1998, After disappointing experiences in working in three chiropractic offices, I quit the profession for good. Click here for the details.
This article was posted on August 26, 2001.