The Lineage

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Passing the knowledge on:
A. T. Still to J.M. Littlejohn to J. Wernham to C. Batten to R. Gula & J. Gula

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still

Andrew Taylor Still

Andrew Taylor Still was born in Virginia in 1828. His father was a Methodist circuit minister, a doctor, and a farmer. Andrew received medical training and travelled through the west gaining his formal schooling and informal experiences wherever the doctoring or farming took him.

After the American Civil War and following the death of his wife, three of his children, and an adopted child from spinal meningitis in 1864, Still concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were frequently ineffective and sometimes harmful. The use of Calomel, also known as mercury chloride, was one such medical practice Still took particular issue with. It was at this time that he began to question the medicine of his time and to seek an alternative system of treatment, without drugs.

For a decade Still lived in the Shawnee Tribe reservation land and was introduced to Shawnee and Cherokee bodywork and spiritualism.

Still moved to Kirksville, Missouri. There he found acceptance of his approach to medicine and opened an office in 1875. Advertising himself as a magnetic healer and a “lightning bonesetter” he travelled to far away towns providing care and slowly built up his reputation. Word spread about the doctor whose system of drugless manipulative medicine was able to cure many apparently hopeless cases.

Still was one of the first physicians to promote the idea of preventive medicine including hygiene and nutrition. He promoted the concept that physicians should focus on treating the dis-ease rather than only symptoms. He began to train others to meet the demand for his treatment. The first school of osteopathy was established in 1892 calling it The American School of Osteopathy.

He encouraged his students to ‘dig on’ with the study of osteopathy, a term derived from ‘osteo’ meaning ‘structure’ and ‘pathos’ meaning ‘suffering of’. Some of his students founded their own schools including: Dr. Palmer’s chiropractic philosophy; Dr. Upledger’s craniosacral rhythm approach; and Dr. Mitchell’s muscle energy system.

John Martin Littlejohn
‘Disease is a process, and a natural process in which the organism attempts, by some abnormal performance of function to liberate itself from disturbance. Therefore in every disease the balance of the body function is increased or decreased.’ John Martin Littlejohn

John Martin Littlejohn

A native of Glasgow he was ordained in the ministry of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland and lived in Northern Ireland. Littlejohn found the damp climate unsuited to his frail health and he was advised to seek a warmer and drier climate overseas.

Thus he set sail for America with only six months to live according to professional opinion. Fortunately, the fame of Still attracted Dr. Littlejohn to Kirksville where he recovered to become a student of osteopathy, lecturer, and co-founder.

These two men, Still and Littlejohn, combined to give us the theory and philosophy of osteopathy. Still was the discoverer. Littlejohn, a student of both Glasgow and Columbia Universities, looked behind the physical skeleton to the invisible function that is immanent in the physiology. Littlejohn spent more than ten years in Chicago studying the fundamentals of life and movement in the living body and laid the foundations of our technique and practice.

Returning to the United Kingdom in 1913, he established the British School of Osteopathy.

Littlejohn took the original concepts of Osteopathy and added a profound physiological depth to them. Being a highly qualified forensic scientist, he studied the human body in immense detail, forming a clear understanding of how disease processes functioned through the body and the intricate physiological changes that resulted in pathology.

Osteopathy had already established itself as a means of treating even the most difficult of diseases, but Littlejohn took the treatment processes, refined them and recorded his clinical findings on diseases. The complete understanding of Osteopathy he left behind has been clinically proven many times over.

John Wernham
John Wernham

John Wernham

John Wernham was a close friend and student of Dr. Littlejohn. Wernham throughout his long and dedicated career has tested Littlejohn’s understanding to its limit, never to find it wanting.

Wernham was the founder of The Institute of Applied Technique, which is now known as The Institute of Classical Osteopathy. This was set up to further the understanding of Osteopathy, as it was taught by J.M. Littlejohn and A.T. Still, who established osteopathy as a system of medicine in its own right and with its unique understanding of the physiological disturbances that lead to disease. John Wernham taught and practiced Osteopathy for more than half a century. He published many texts of his own and Littlejohn’s work and has given new life to many forgotten but valuable osteopathic texts.

C. Batten

Mr. Batten studied osteopathy in Maidstone England under John Wernham, who was a student of J.M. Littlejohn, who was a student of the founder A.T. Still. Chris is the Secretary and Director of Education of the Institute of Classical Osteopathy. He shares his knowledge and experience with undergraduate and graduate osteopaths as an international teacher. In 2005 Rob and Jennifer met Chris while attending one of his classical osteopathy courses. At the course Mr. Batten treated a close family member to Rob and Jennifer. The 20 minute treatment proved to be a pivotal experience with profound effect. Chronic symptoms dissipated overnight where previously 5 specialized medical physicians were unable to identify the issue or provide any correction or relief. The meeting proved to be substantial in deepening an understanding of the secret sauce to treatment, the magic of osteopathy.

Dr. T. Bezilla, DO, MEd, BSc, CSCS, MICO

Todd Bezilla, DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), earned his DO degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is an educator with extensive clinical and academic experience. Prior to retirement from private practice, he was a member in good standing of the American Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Osteopathy, The Cranial Academy, Delaware State Osteopathic Medicine Association, and the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association. Todd is author and co-author of several scientific publications. Todd is dedicated to sharing his wealth of knowledge with clinical application. As an educator Dr. Bezilla sets a firm foundation in osteopathic principles and practice.


Rob & Jennifer have had a unique osteopathic education combining American osteopathic education with Classical Osteopathic courses. Their education was structured by the American Osteopathic College curriculum and supplied by a Board Certified American Osteopathic Doctor specialized in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. They have qualified as classical osteopaths (International) with the Institute of Classical Osteopathy. The Gulas have supported the profession as past Directors for the Ontario Osteopathic Association. They provide their time to osteopathic students and new graduates for mentoring. Both Rob and Jennifer have travelled across North America to attend manual therapy and osteopathic courses and continue to do so keeping up-to-date with the latest research and practice.

Next: What is Classical Osteopathy?