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In Memory of John Upledger

The previous post discussed the demise of my book “Cranial Manipulation: Theory and Practice” that is now out-of-print (2nd hand copies still floating around on Amazon….).

Today has come the sad news that John Upledger – who wrote the Foreword for the second edition of that book – has passed away.

I have pasted that Foreword below, since it offers insights into his early career and philosophy.
I first met Dr Upledger in 2003 in Montreal [see the photo of the rather disheveled state we were in after an evening reminiscing and imbibing local liquid products] – and was pleased to host him in 2006 when the University of Westminster brought him to London for a conference, and series of workshops.
While I did not agree with all aspects of Dr Upledgers work, I remain in awe of his amazing contribution to this field.  Rest in Peace


I was honored when Leon Chaitow requested that I write a foreword to this latest edition of his encyclopedic book on cranial (craniosacral) therapy. He would not give me any clue as to what he wanted so I shall simply indulge my creative instincts.
I was in osteopathic college in Kirksville, Missouri when I first heard about cranial osteopathy. What I heard was not necessarily good. In fact, the faculty members who talked about it expressed wishes that cranial osteopathy would evaporate in that it connected quackery to bona fide osteopathy. I was a student and I was working through a three-year fellowship in biochemistry concurrently. This made me very “scientific” and so I chose to believe the “quackery” rumblings about cranial osteopathy. I graduated in 1963 and subsequent to completing an internship at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital I opened a private practice on Clearwater Beach, Florida in October, 1964. I was a very “scientific” osteopathic physician and surgeon.
In 1972 I met the cerebrospinal rhythmical fluid wave first-hand. This introduction was to change my life. I was assisting Dr. James Tyler on a neurosurgical procedure wherein we were to surgically remove a calcified plaque from the posterior aspect of the external surface of the dura mater. The plaque was about the size of a dime and was located at the level of the 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae. My job was to hold the dura mater very still with a pair of forceps while Dr. Tyler scraped the plaque off of the dural membrane without interrupting its integrity. I could not hold the membrane still. It continuously moved towards and away from me rhythmically. The patient was on a ventilation apparatus, the rhythm of which did not correlate with the movements of the dural membrane, nor did the monitored cardiac rhythm. This dural membrane rhythm was a different and independent rhythm. Dr. Tyler became rather irritated with my inability and I was feeling embarrassed and incompetent. Neither Dr. Tyler, the anesthesiologist, the intern nor the nurse had any explanations for that which was proving me incompetent. I stewed over this observation of the unknown for about a month and could find no acceptable answer for this renegade rhythm.
About a month after this surgical experience I noted an announcement in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) that there would be a five-day seminar given by the Cranial Academy in St. Louis. It dawned on me that perhaps I had viewed with my own eyes the cranial rhythmical impulse (CRI) so I attended the conference. The speakers presented all the anatomy and concepts that were needed for me to be able to manipulate skull bones when I returned to Clearwater Beach.
I shared with Dr. Tyler what I had learned and how it integrated with my inability to immobilize the dural membrane. His mind was open. He asked me to treat his office nurse’s seven-year-old son who had three previous tympanotomies and was scheduled for a fourth in a week. I worked on his temporal bones, his ear drained via the eustachian tube and he did not have another tympanotomy over the next few years that I was in contact with his mother.
Next Dr. Tyler asked me to try my new approach on a World War II veteran who had forgotten his ear muffs in 1944 while standing aboard battleship next to a big cannon that was fired. Since that time he had severe non-stop headache and tinnitus. I mobilized his temporal bones and while I was doing this, his headache and tinnitus stopped, never to return.
These two clinical experiences silenced my previous scientific skepticism which was nurtured at the Kirksville College. Dr. Tyler suggested that I start scrubbing with him on craniotomies. I started doing this about twice a week. I observed, helped and learned during these surgeries. Dr. Tyler had me treat his craniotomy patients, most of whom were brain tumors. I knew what was going on inside the cranium because I was there during surgery. I treated these post-op patients daily beginning on day one after surgery. Dr. Tyler was very happy because he had much improved recovery rates, with almost no post-op complications and no surgically induced mortalities. This was enough to convince my “scientific” self that we were onto something. The word about what Dr. Tyler and I were doing and I was invited to join the faculty of the Biomechanics Research Department at Michigan State University. I did so in July, 1975. Here we investigated and proved the existence of the craniosacral system. We published a lot of our work, and I found myself frequently working with biophysicists who seemed to have very open minds.
While I was at Michigan State I was informed by professional researchers that it takes about 25 years for the conventional medical community to accept new concepts. Our contributions to the research and clinical outcomes at Michigan State University have largely been published in peer-reviewed journals and as craniosacral therapy is now coming into acceptance, the prediction seems qualitatively correct.
Leon Chaitow has created an encyclopedia of cranial and craniosacral therapy. Dr. Chaitow has thoroughly described the many pathways of investigation and treatment development that have led to the concepts and applications of cranial/craniosacral therapy. This is a book that every practitioner of this work will find of interest. It will be a very useful reference source and should be on the practitioner’s bookshelf.
John E Upledger 2005
Thank you John    

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