Interview with H.M. Himes

Appendix III

Excerpts from a 1980 Palmer Beacon interview Dr. H. M. Himes, Dean of CMCC at the time of the Synchro-Therme research project. Dr. Himes convinced the CMCC board to hire Dr. Petersen, manufacture the Synchro-Therme and to publish Segmental Neuropathy. Dr. Himes was a former chairman of Palmer’s Technique Department and teaching clinics, and a contributor to the Segmental Neuropathy text.

The Beacon, March-April 1980

(Herbert Marshall Himes, PSC 1931)

Chiropractic Technique

Himes: The pendulum, and rightfully so, has swung from these millimeter measurements of spinal segments, as you see in Grostic, Keck, and Blair x-ray analysis to a more sensible attitude of neurologic dysfunction. After being an HIO man myself for many years, I know today that such minute analysis is unnecessary. I say that in total honesty – Let me put it another way: B.J. said of subluxation, “An invasive force can enter the body at any point, and carry with it the potential for the production or the reduction of vertebral subluxation.” Now, that’s dogma. Let me say it another way: “A specific stress insult can enter the body at any point and carries with it the potential for the expansion or the extinguishment of the neuropathic process.” There is a difference. B.J. believed that you could hit a person in the butt with a shovel, and the “shock wave,” in some instances, would reset the Atlas and give you a reduction. Today we know that is dogma! We know striking the patient doesn’t necessarily change the Atlas, but it does change the neurology. Now, to say that this strike can potentially expand or extinguish the neuropathic process is true. And whether or not a given technique can accomplish this extinguishment is what makes it good or useless, depending on the time, space and arrangement they are used on the patient. Specificity of adjustment is a quality that lies within the patient, not within the system I practice. We must think in terms of, “Where can I intrude into this nervous system to extinguish the neuropathic process”, otherwise some of your patients will remain unresponsive to your treatment. To be effective I need to locate that point of intrusion that will end the neuropathic process. We need a lot of work in that area. The importance of specificity here D.D. brought out, in that all segments of the spine are specific, and in some instances, articulations other than spinal. You can, by accident, sometimes extinguish neuropathic processes. Back in my day we had an instructor who was a terrible arthritic, with no relief until one night he piled his car into a culvert. We brought him back to the clinic and found no measurable nerve interference on the “caligraph.” His readings were gone from the crash and he got well. Demolished his car. Pile your car into a culvert and get adjusted.

“You see, we are dealing with something of enormous complexity. The nervous system not only fades into nebulous areas of computerization, but it also borders on what used to be called, “spiritual factors.” Science today is seeing the importance of examining these areas of spiritualism. In my day such creative thinking — meditation, self-hypnosis, bio-feedback – all were considered Occultism. Our knowledge of them currently is crude in comparison to what we will learn, say, in the next twenty-five years.

The Neuropathy

Himes: The neuropathy is an aberrant nervous process and goes beyond chiropractic philosophy. Read “Spencer’s Definition of Life.” He observes that life is more than just a quality of internal relations adjusting to external reactions – there is a prophetic, an anticipatory judgment, on the part of the body long before a pathology is developed. Because of the enormous complication of living factors it is impossible for me to speak of the neuropathic process in the detail you would like me to. But a neuropathy can be defined briefly as any derangement of a nerve or nerve system where it is not carrying out the function for which it is designed. D.D. Palmer said on page 57 of his book: “In disease, impulses are not impeded, stopped, or cut off. They are modified.”

“Now, you look at modern research. You cannot command the attention of a researcher today with a word like “mental impulse.” Whereas, if you ask about the qualitative factor of nerve activity he’ll know what you’re talking about. Think of the qualitative factor like this: You pick up the telephone and listen for your dial tone – good, you say, circuits working; and that is your quantitative factor. But as soon as that base tone is altered by someone talking to you, sending a message by changing the tone – that is your qualitative factor.

If you ask researchers today about this factor they’ll have to admit they don’t know. We’ve only investigated it the last fifteen years. But look back to D.D. – the only difference between D.D. of 1910 and research today is a semantic difference. This is why I criticize Price and others. They’ve been keeping their foot on the hose too long, explaining chiropractic principle with obsolete illustrations which are great insofar as relating preliminary ideas to lay patients. The same sort of thing was carried on in B.J.’s day. Nerve interference was not cold – it was hot. And he insisted on it so long as he was alive. But we know today that it’s just the opposite. Dermatomal interference causes a cold spot, and this lack of vasodilatative responsiveness is what we’re looking at. A Japanese fellow with equipment that we as a profession won’t pay for, has proven that interference is cold. (See Appendix VIII for excerpts from Ishikawa’s research; SWDC) In 100% of pleurisy cases he tested there is cold at corresponding segmental levels of nerve distribution. In other words, our old Meric system is anatomically accurate.”

The Chiropractic Future

Himes: “So, all we have to do – and think about this job – is take Stephenson’s, and all the other chiropractic text-books that have outdated, outmoded means of communication, and convert them to modern terminology. I have no qualm dropping the term “mental impulse” for the “qualitative factor,” because the scientific and educational communities will believe me. So, the ACA-CCE say, “Get rid of our dogma!”; but if we’re not careful we’ll throw out the baby with the bathwater. Our archaic terminology translated into current nomenclature is no longer dogma. And that’s the crux of chiropractic.

“And what should we be researching? Neurology. And the effect our work on the spinal joint has on neurology.

“As a matter of fact – and this is a funny story – when I was doing work at CMCC I was organizing graduate chiropractors from five colleges to do research on different patients. Talk about impossible; they were completely at war. There was one problem case in which we just could not clear out the interference of this patient, and I asked Henry Gillette to come up and give us his analysis. Well, Henry started out as only Henry can, palpating clear up on top of the scalp and working his way all over the place. Then Henry looked at me and said, “Why, I’d adjust the second toe on this patient’s right foot.” I said, “Oh, Henry, for God’s sake, be reasonable about this.” “That’s what I find!” All right, then, do your thing on that second toe. And when we laid the kid down and did our instrument analysis on him there was no interference we could find. Now, how many second toes are you going to adjust? Not very many, let me guarantee you. But all the rest of us had done nothing for this patient at the spinal joint articulation.

“You see, we don’t have the key yet. I couldn’t tell you today, looking at the placement of cold spots on a reading by a two-channel instrument such as the synchrotherm, where I would want to begin adjusting. We don’t have the research. Nothing. Just argument. To correct a given neuropathy I may need to do a toggle along with a diversified move on a thoracic, and maybe a Logan Basic contact, too. If the neuropathy was extinguished by these then all of these adjustments were specific. Now you try and tell that to a Grostic man or someone else, and they’ll tell you your line of drive was wrong, or your x-ray analysis was incorrect. No research, just argument. Specificity is a moment to moment quality lying within the nervous system of the patient.

Now I wouldn’t have said this ten years ago, but with the proper method of analysis I must also be qualified in the three methods of adjusting: cleavage, which is toggle or a thrust; leverage, which are the rolls; and pressure, which is Logan or other comparable technique. If you are expert in each of these I guarantee you’ll have more patients than you can handle.

Beacon: In order to apply these techniques, how do we find the neuropathy?

Himes: Well, first of all we need more advanced instruments. But even if you use your NCM or Thermeter to look for cold spots, and then adjust into the warm side, you’ll begin to improve your record of success. Come in on the warm side always . . . I said “always,” that is not true. You may find a patient not responding to adjusting on the warm side and realize you have an exception. Because of the complexity of the system we are dealing with, “Always” should not be part of our vocabulary.

“In every constellation of disease there is the neuropathic element, which chiropractors alone are concerned with. If we can remove this factor, the disease constellation will no longer be complete, this is what makes us great. Visualized in this perspective the idea is so simple. This is why we are so stupid to have so many fractionalizations from one philosophy called chiropractic.