Straights & Mixers

By Bob Braile D.C., President ICA

By the power vested in me as President of the International Chiropractors Association I hereby now and forever banish and forbid the use of the terms "straight and mixer" in any reference to the chiropractic profession. I wish!!! Unfortunately I have no such authority, but I wish I did.

The terms straight and mixer have taken on a much more sinister meaning over the years than they originally meant. In the early years of chiropractic practitioners of other healing disciplines went to chiropractic schools to learn this new healing art of chiropractic. When they returned to their communities they used what they had learned before, and "mixed" it with what they had learned in chiropractic school. This was then termed a "mixed practice". Within a short span of time those who practiced in this manner were called "mixers".

On the other hand those who went to school and only practiced what they had learned in chiropractic school were said to have a "straight" practice, and were later termed "straight chiropractors." It wasn’t until many years later when more chiropractors started using physical therapy in their offices that the terms straight and mixer were determined by whether a doctor used machines or not.

For years these terms have divided the chiropractic profession. These terms have also been used falsely as a line drawn between national associations. Chiropractors have even decided which of their colleagues to socialize with based on these lines. I myself have been called a straight by some and a mixer by others. These self imposed classifications have probably been a major stumbling block to why two thirds of our profession does not belong to any national chiropractic association.

An interesting point to keep in mind is that none of our licenses say that we are either a straight or a mixer. Our degrees are not Doctors of Mixing Chiropractic, or Doctors of Straight Chiropractic. Yet this absurd classification has spread so far as to have had a few of the latest depositions I’ve done start with a question from the opposing attorney, "doctor, are you a Straight Chiropractor?" This obviously tells me that some attorneys are giving seminars on how to depose a chiropractor, and have created lists of questions depending on if they think your a straight or mixer.

The ICA has long been called the straight organization by those wishing to discourage chiropractors from joining us. I have had many a good chiropractor say that their heart was with the ICA but they felt they couldn’t join us because they used some sort of adjunctive procedure in their practice. This flies in the face of ICA’s long standing position. I’ve searched the ICA’s documents. Nowhere in our official papers do we use the term straight! Nowhere do we say that a person can or can’t join ICA depending on their practice. And nowhere on our membership application does it ask if you are a straight or mixer.

Two written statements that might shock some people are the ICA’s present and past policy statements on the practice of chiropractic. In the latest edition of the ICA’s Policy Handbook & Code of Ethics, there is a clear statement that reads, "The Doctor of Chiropractic may elect to use appropriate ancillary and rehabilitative procedures appropriate to the area of subluxation complex dysfunction in support of the chiropractic adjustment, nutritional advice for the overall enhancement of health of the patient, and council for restoration and the maintenance of health."

This position is not new for ICA. If we look back at the 1959 policy statement on practice, it reads, "It is to be understood that the Board (of ICA) approves any reasonable measures and advise which fall in the area of case management. Common sense dictates that in the interest of the welfare of the patient, chiropractors cannot and should not remain mute to and insensitive to the needs of the patient." This excerpt was part of the Official ICA Policy statement approved by, and signed by the ICA Board. Those signed included Drs, B.J. Palmer, Lyle W. Sherman, Vinton F. Logan, L. W. Rutherford, E. G. Napolitano, and other pioneers, to name just a few.

The ICA’s position over the years has been consistent. As an organization we focus on telling the world what chiropractic is, and not telling chiropractors what not to do. We celebrate our uniqueness, our point of pride that we are the only profession with our unique principle of correcting subluxation to release the body’s own innate healing abilities.

From a political standpoint I view our profession as being compared to three types of congregations. The first congregation I call the "congregation of exclusionism." This congregation is one that insists that you pray as they pray, kneel as they kneel and say the words they say. If you do not follow these teachings you can not belong. The second congregation I see as the "congregation of anything goes." In this congregation they welcome everyone in. They also then teach from the pulpit whatever message the individual members of the congregation choose to believe. The messages taught at this congregation change with the fashion of the times.

The third congregation I call the "congregation of inclusionism." This is a congregation where the doors are open to everyone. But the message from the pulpit retains the basic tenants and principles. This congregation teaches the time enduring principles without forcing them upon its members, or changing them to suit temporary fashion. Obviously it is this third "congregation of inclusionism" that I feel best represents the ICA.

So as far as I am concerned the terms straight and mixer die here! Give the last rights, call the undertaker, and buy some flowers. This is a funeral long overdue.

R.I.P. Straight & Mixer.

Oh... How did I respond to the lawyers question of was I a straight or mixer? I told him that those were historical terms that have no basis today, I’m a Chiropractor!


Written in 1996