From Dorko's Desk
There are about three hundred essays and book reviews here. They are typically around 600 words and
range from purely philosophical to practical matters for all of us handling
Analgesia of Movement
This appeared recently in The Journal of Osteopathic Medicine
published in Australia
There is a category of reasoning that truly leads to scientific advancement,
and this is it.
Sense of Things
Some exciting news about the possibilities of palpation
A review of two recently published and related novels by Mark Haddon and
Death Comes Food-Asperger Syndrome and Physical Therapy Practice
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s
opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the Great Man is he
who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Big Mistake
Some disturbing information about the proposed connection
between strength and posture
Why: Evolutionary Reasoning and Manual Care
Another good reason to stop coercing patients
Re-Enchantment of Therapy
"There is no essential conflict
between enchanted living and practical, productive activity; they can serve each
other: one delighting the spirit of ambition, the other comforting the
heart" Thomas Moore
This is connected to "Dreamcatcher" found elsewhere on this page
My attitude toward
holism may disappoint those who see me as a thoughtful and “open-minded”
practitioner. I hope this essay will help them understand my concerns
Matrix and Me
Are you Neo or Cypher? Back to the movies for another lesson about changing
Man Beneath the Tree
Over a hundred years ago William James talked about how we inhibit movement
that can help us. My patients demonstrate this every day.
End of Evaluation?
therapists want very much to appear competent and knowledgeable, but while doing
so they have ignored the very thing that makes many of their elaborate
evaluative procedures irrelevant..."
are some pretty radical ideas here but I think the time has come for us to
I expanded on my review of K.C. Cole's book about nothing here. This is all
about the absence of technique in Simple Contact.
A review of David Shenk's wonderful book, The Forgetting
Something more about therapeutic presence and attitude
for a Firm Persuasion
This is a review of poet David Whyte's latest book of prose
Something I wrote a few years ago. It still works as a metaphor for clinical
More about our patient's stories and how they might change
Alien View: Consilience in Physical Therapy
Some thoughts about the deep model of pain from our greatest sociobiologist
How can you tell when something probably isn't true?
Hans Christian Andersen's take on Central Sensitivity
This was inspired by K.C. Cole's newest book, The Hole in the Universe
Another explanation of the rationale behind Simple Contact
Issues in Pain-Two volumes edited by Louis Gifford, P.T.
Pain Solutions-A new book by Bruce Kodish PhD., P.T.
This is my latest analogy for handling patients using Simple Contact
This was inspired by Michael White's biography of Isaac Newton and originally
appeared in four parts on Rehab Edge.
In Kansas Anymore
This is my latest attempt to provoke the myofascial release community into a
dialogue about their work. So far, I've heard nothing.
The Movie Cast Away Is Precisely About My Work
Another trip to the theatre will be required to get the most from this one
This is a review of David Butler's The Sensitive Nervous System
I can't take credit for all the funny lines here, but I did enjoy writing
Movement for Pain Relief
This is essentially what I will speak about to the Performing Arts Special
Interest Group at The APTA Conference in San Antonio.
This came from a conversation I've had many times as I travel and teach.
Perhaps someone out there can relate.
to 34th Street
I'm posting this during the Christmas Season 2000. It's another trip back to
the movies for those of us who learn best there.
the Patient Wall; More thoughts on the technique and effect of Simple
I'm told that this explains things pretty well
A bit more about how and why belief often drives practice-and why that's so
hard to change
More Mister Nice Guy Part I
Ever hear of Cultural Relativism?
More Mister Nice Guy Part II
More about "energy medicine" from a reformed cultural relativist
What our dogs might teach us about recovery from trauma
This begins with a quote from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
and Sensation: A Deep Model
This explains why simply touching another can have so widespread an effect
Some more thoughts on the technique of Simple Contact from Star
Deep Model: The problem of empiricism in alternative practices
A wonderful essay from The British Medical Journal inspired this
I was very impressed with Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. Here's
what it inspired.
Went Wrong: Postmodern Thought and Physical Therapy Practice
Ever wonder why some of your colleagues ignore rational thought?
Another look at the art and science of Feldenkrais' work
Back to Oz for another lesson about corrective movement
in the Machine
Yet another trip to the movies. This time to a Steve McQueen classic from
Just a short piece about another way of approaching practice
It's amazing what you can learn in kindergarten
A conversation with my imaginary friend
Ever see a patient change for no apparent reason? Consider seeing them in
This movie is the best example of restricted expression I know of.
How powerful are our stories?
about Simple Contact
Look here for answers about my method of management
Some more thoughts on neural tension
Rocking Horse Winner
A few months ago the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association
asked for thoughts about the future of the profession. This letter was inspired
by an old D.H. Lawrence short story.
Some speculation on the meaning of our internal
The newest translation of this ancient tale inspired
Once again, The Wizard has something to teach us
A problem with Gerber's new book about "energy
medicine" is exposed
Not knowing where to go next can be the best thing to happen in clinical
Movement and Creation
Ever wonder why pushing someone doesn't often help?
One Hand Clapping: Physical Therapy in the
Twenty First Century
What have we become?
Movement and Imagination
Sometimes little things mean a lot.
| Life on Mars:
|This is another comment on alternatives to scientific
thought, and how our profession deals with that."
I wrote this for the general public in a local "Wellness" newsletter. Maybe
it's something you can use too.
This originally appeared in Advance for Physical Therapists and Physical
Therapist Assistants. It might help you clean out your storage areas,
including those in your head.
|Instinct and Inhibition:
There is a kind of instinctive movement our culture does not like, and it
has attempted to replace it with "proper" posture and movement that is
little more than cosmetic. Could it be that this has resulted in an
epidemic of chronic pain?
|It's reasonable to wonder how long it will take for a
non-pathologic problem to resolve. Here's one possible answer.
|I went to one of my favorite musicals to find out why
ineffective methods of care remain so popular.
|Sometimes it's not what you do but how you are that makes
|There's a common result to effective handling, and here it's
|The Sound of Music:
|Sometimes the thing that seems to be making us worse,
we cannot live without.
|After the Fall:
I think what the patient says here will sound very
familiar to most clinicians. This essay offers you
a way of helping people move toward recovery when
they are stuck in their past.
|A Kind of Health:
What does painlessness look like? The answer might
|Being of little brain might not be the worst thing for
some therapists, and for this I'm personally grateful.
|This is a companion piece to "Searching for Our Own Secret"
|This is a follow up to "The Piano Lesson" also found on this site.
|Our Own Two Feet:
|Dorothy and her gift are never far from my thoughts.
Here's another example.
"We cannot live (and society cannot function) without these covers,
yet we also bemoan the sequestering of a supposedly true self."
Stephen Jay Gould
|Jumping Into the Well:
|Some thoughts on why we practice in so many ways,
and how your practice might be unique to your way
of being in the clinic.
|A Simple Cup of Coffee:
|Sometimes a small act can be seen for what it
may contain and imply about something much larger.
|When Dorothy Touched the Lion:
|Bert Lahr's "Cowardly Lion" was tragically true to
life. There's a lesson about pain and fear in his
first scene in the movie.
|Pain and Poetics:
|"Imagine my surprise, sitting a full hour in silent
and irremediable fear of the world...
The poet David Whyte offers us some profound
thoughts about touching our own fear, and relieving
|The Purpose of Attention:
|Some men live with an invisible limp,
stagger or drag a leg. Their sons are often angry.
If a man, cautious, hides his limp
somebody has to limp it!
from "My Father's Wedding"
by Robert Bly
|Therapy as Craft:
|This originally appeared in "The Therapy Student
Journal Ezine." I think there's something here
for those of us long in practice as well.
|PT in Service:
|Hermann Hesse is not normally thought of as a mentor
in therapeutic philosophy, but he's one of mine. This
essay explores the possibility of our acting as more
than just helpers or fixers.
|How much does a patient's history influence the care
|Picking 'Em Up:
|The art of juggling continues fascinate me, and I
occasionally see the elements of the therapeutic art
within its performance and practice.
|Flight From Cincy:
|A flight from Cincinnati to Cleveland can remind you of your
clinical life. That is, if the weather is just right.
|Searching for Symmetry:
"To see what is general in what is particular
and what is permanent in what is transitory is the
aim of scientific thought."
Alfred North Whitehead
This is a sequel to The Forgotten Movement.
|The Piano Lesson:
"In the mid-morning my mother sits in her chair, hot tea at hand..."
This was written in '93. It was my first description of
|The Quantum Scam:
"Energy Medicine" has a way of misusing physics that
truly irritates me. This essay asks some questions about that.
|In the Night:
it is the same nightmare:
the pain factory
deep in the interior,
the blast furnace going
half the night,
driving the muffled
engines to make enough
from "Night Shift" by Karen Fiser
|Errant shots are part of the game of golf. Clinical
errors might not be as common, but they are equally unavoidable.
|Only when we learn to put up with ourselves can we arrive at a place of interior peace.
|The Body Has Its Reasons:
|Interpreting the shape and movement of another will sometimes
prove extremely useful, but it is just as likely to mislead us.
|Sometimes the most obvious things
are not really important.
|"When the external act decreases,
the internal act increases."
Marsilio Ficino - Fifteenth Century Philosopher
|The Neverending Argument:
|I don't think that the divide between my form of reasoning and practice and
some others will ever diminish much. This describes part of the problem.
|What Do You Think You're Doing?:
|When the use of heavy pressure with the hands begins to break
down the therapist, it's time we reconsidered the nature
of the materials we are trying to alter.
|The Presence of Magic:
|"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the
mysterious. It is the true source of all true art and
|Baby Bear's Bed:
|"She came finally to a small bed and laid down upon it.
It was not too hard, and not too soft. It was just right.
Very soon she fell fast asleep."
From "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"
|The Passive Voice:
|The skills we acquire in life are not always chosen.
They are often the end result of what we had to do
in order to get by.
|How might manual care be like playing the harmonica?
Look here to find out.
|Some reference to The Wizard of Oz shows up
somewhere in my life at least once every week.
Here's another lesson from this classic story.
|There are moments surrounding the progress that therapy
might induce. Knowing what they're like might help us
create more of them.
|The Second Level:
|Were you ever sorry you asked someone how they were?
Like it or not, therapists must often do this, and
this essay examines the purpose and consequences of
|Scars and Opportunity:
|Perhaps nothing reveals as much about a therapist's philosophy of manual care as the way they approach
|Fans of Native American art will recognize this item
and its popularity attests to its charm. Perhaps in
another consideration of dreaming we may find some
movement that relieves pain.
|The Characteristics of Correction:
|Pain relief often boils down to simply moving in a
corrective fashion. If the relief is not immediate
(and often it isn't), how can we know we're at least
on the right path? Here's how.
|The purpose of ritual is to wake up the old mind in
us, to put it to work. Without ritual our ancient
knowledge is ignored.
|Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does
anything about it.
|A Superficial Art:
|When dealing manually with problems of nervous irritation,
we are challenged to somehow effect structures deep within the body,
while our hands remain on the surface.
|Backaches and Earthquakes:
|Preventative medicine is all the rage, but for all its
usefulness, it doesn't often help us to predict whether
or not someone will hurt.
|Until You Cry:
|Patients with a history of painful movement have to
somehow be encouraged to extend, to lengthen, to
find some alternate or newly discovered path toward
movement from the center. Can some elements from the
art of juggling offer them that?
|Is effective manual care dependent upon our
skill, or on something else?
|A Hug From Davey:
|As this is posted, the Cleveland Indians are playing in
the World Series. Here you'll find the reason why.
|It Might Only Be Glowing:
|Always this fire
If it remains unlit,
The body fills with a dense smoke
from "Out on the Ocean" by David Whyte
|Movement and Desire:
To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best,
night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the
hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop
|"We become physicians only when we know that which is
unnamed, invisible, and immaterial, yet has its effect."
German physician/mystic, 1493-1541
|The Chaos Primer:
|A list of terms and definitions relevant
to the body as a dynamical system
|The House on Dover:
|Inevitably as we age, we settle, choose less movement and
grow softer. Maybe it's time for us to accept that.
|The Old Guard:
|Our tendency to try and straighten others out is
understandable, once you realize how we feel about "The Old Guard."
|Are the internal events of correction experienced in
ordinary time? Consider this piece about "body time," and
see if it doesn't relate to your own clinical experience.
|His Father's Voice:
|Maybe computer science can teach us something useful about
assessment and interpretation of findings. This essay addresses
the new tendency to separate testing from human interaction.
|In The Forest:
|This essay proposes that we interpret stiffness in a
very different way, and it contains one of my favorite analogies.
I use it in the clinic everyday.
|Dorothy and Marvel:
|I have a personal fascination with "The Wizard of Oz," and
I think one scene in particular speaks to our movement toward
nontraditional methods. Watch the movie once again, and see what
Marvel does with the photograph.
|The Suppression of Flight:
|There is a difference between emotion and instinct, and
understanding how these relate to dysfunction and recovery in
people with pain is essential in the clinic. This essay explains one
theory behind the effectiveness of spontaneous movement as a
|The Pollyanna Doctrine:
|Within every patient is an attitude, process or movement that, when
amplified, will assist in recovery. Assessment and treatment should
include acknowledging these, and making the patient aware of them.
|Pain and Expression:
|Movement toward correction most effectively comes from the
patient without effort. Why don't they just do it?
Here's one idea.
|Rumination - Part I:
|A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is typically difficult to
manage manually. This is about finding a way to enter the
body gently and effectively.
| Rumination - Part II:
|Manual intervention for fibromyalgia must begin and end
without coercion. This is more about how that might be considered.
|Us and Them:
|How different are our patients from us really? When
we assume that we are essentially distinct as a
community, the best part of therapy may be lost.
|The Loss of Care:
|The increasing trend toward training in therapy comes at
some cost. And often enough, both patient and therapist
|An effective clinician must see and understand invisible
processes by the signs they leave on the surface. Within
this seemingly mysterious skill dwells the essence of
|Woody and Me:
|Many common strategies for treating reflex sympathetic
dystrophy are chancy. Perhaps a more conservative game
plan would be a better choice.
|Private practice physical therapy is no walk in the park, and
the past couple of years have not proven kind to it. This
piece appears as it happened one day. I don't think I could
have invented it.
|When something is finally named in a certain way, our understanding
of it and the control we can exert is altered, almost magically.
This essay defines the difference between nominal and essential
diagnoses, and explains how naming what we treat can make all the
|The First Door:
|How do you begin care? This essay offers a way of considering
the patient before therapeutic handling can start.
|Tributary - Part I:
|Which parts of you are like a river? Gaining access manually
to things that flow deep within our patients can be tricky,
but understanding the nature of the surface may help. Let's
start floating here, and dive a little deeper in Part II.
|Tributary - Part II:
|In Part I, the river we need to affect is described. This is
about how to get there.
|The Ignorance of Jed:
|So, you thought that comedy re-runs had nothing to teach us? Not! Come and
listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed, and discover the possibilities of
reflexive effect in manual care.
|Ask anyone over the age of 75 who Floyd Collins was and
they'll probably know. The rest of us are too young. But Floyd's
predicament remains as compelling today, and I think we can connect
it to the difficult moments we all know when treating nervous
|Think that the national obsession with
appearance is something new? This might surprise you.
|Adaptive Potential; A New Concept in
Pain of Mechanical Origin|
||Sometimes measuring range of motion doesn't help us account for our
patient's pain, or lack of it for that matter. Consider this category
of function the next time what you see and what you hear don't match
|As Two Rivers Meet; Some Thoughts on Manual Care|
||This begins with a few lines from a William Stafford poem about
palmistry and meanders through the issues of reflexive effect,
the fractal nature of the skin and the cellular response to touch.|
|The Nonlinear Being|
||Two essays about the significance of chaos in human physiology
and the clinical implications of fractals in anatomy.|
|Moving With Sound Alone; The Use of Poetics in Manual Care|
||Finding a way to speak simply and effectively about the internal
processes that touch may produce or enhance is probably the most
difficult skill any caregiver seeks to acquire. This is a brief
essay about my personal experience with The National Association for Poetry Therapy and how it has affected my practice.|
||I've been writing and publishing steadily for years now. Take a look
and see if any titles interest you. You can obtain free copies of
whatever you'd like by sending a request along with your regular address
to my email.|