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Med Anthropol. 1990 Mar;12(2):169-86.

Chiropractors for and against vaccines.

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San Francisco Spine Institute, Seton Medical Center, CA.


The publications of philosophically conservative chiropractors document their allegiance to a posture of hostile opposition to health prevention based upon immunization procedures. The challenge to medical anthropology is to make sense of what seems scientifically senseless. This paper attempts to come to an understanding of this position by tracing professional attitudes which are derived from a history of political and economic conflict with the American medical establishment, which emanate from an explanatory model of disease causation that preserves a nineteenth century monocausal theory, and which reflect a process of cultural schizmogenesis. In preserving these heretical medical beliefs, conservative chiropractors, who are trained in the basic medical sciences, defend themselves by basing their opposition to immunization upon imperfections in vaccines that relate to the efficacy, safety and necessity of immunizations. Further, they persist in a belief that chiropractic spinal manipulation provides an alternative method for achieving immune status. This belief has not been subjected to testing in clinical trials or laboratory experiments, and thus becomes a matter of belief rather than of scientific verity. A refusal to advocate or submit to vaccines serves conservative chiropractors as an understandable cultural symbol, but it is a symbol with sinister health costs to those who translate it into non-immune status in a world otherwise still hostage to disease-producing organisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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