Holly Folk’s history of the origins and development of chiropractic blends the story of D. D. Palmer (the “discoverer”) and his son B. J. Palmer (the “developer”) of spinal manipulation therapy with in-depth analyses of New Thought, Western Esotericism, Harmonial Religion, and more. Folk deftly places chiropratic within the context of nineteenth-century alternative medicine, which includes magnetic healing, vertebral vitalism, neurocentrism, and other metaphysical approaches to health. Six chapters focus on chiropractic’s beginnings and the (literal) internecine conflicts that ensue over philosophy and treatment. The seventh looks at the current state of chiropractic outside the United States and, somewhat oddly, reintroduces the possibility of Rosicrucian influences on the Palmers, briefly covered in earlier chapters. The book is a veritable compendium of the most influential alternative mental and physical healers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States.

Most fascinating are the glimpses that Folk provides of the precursors...

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