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The eccentricities of osteopathy

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 03 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5890
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

The medical world can boast more than its fair share of eccentrics. But few come more eccentric than Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917), the founder of osteopathy, who made his name riding the Wild West with a sack of bones slung over his shoulder.

Born in Virginia, the son of a Methodist minister, Still enjoyed little formal schooling; his classroom was the great outdoors. Like other medical autodidacts, he favoured the “book of nature” over printed works. Growing up in Missouri, he studied anatomy from the animals he hunted and dissected. In his lively autobiography he described frontier …

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