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CHAPTER V

WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?

    JUST what is Chiropractic? And wherein does it differ from Osteopathy? These are questions frequently on people's lips nowadays, and to the uninitiated the answer is not readily clear. Morris Fishbein in his "Medical Follies" (page 61), defines Chiropractic as "the malignant tumor on the body of Osteopathy," and quotes an envious and grouchy osteopath as saying, "Chiropractic is only the first three weeks of Osteopathy."

    After deducting from the Fishbein account of these manipulative therapies the abusive personalities, the risque stories, and other belittling devices for creating prejudice, the disinterested reader can but feel that three weeks should afford ample time for mastering the fundamentals of both Osteopathy and Chiropractic, as outlined by the author of "Medical Follies."

    Thus according to him, Chiropractic diagnosis and treatment is comprised in two sentences: "Disease is caused by certain bones of the spine impinging on certain nerves. Disease is cured by pushing those bones off those nerves until by some unknown mechanism of physiology they are persuaded to stay off." Since this remarkable therapeutic system he claims had been "borrowed" by its founder, D. D. Palmer, from Andrew T. Still, the founder of Osteopathy—who according to Historian Fishbein had evolved it in an Indian graveyard—it will be seen at once that both systems are covered by the simple Fishbein formula; and the marvel is that any one could be so dull as to take three weeks to grasp it.

    Chiropractors, however, give a very different version of their system to that given out by either their medical or osteopathic censors, and they are perhaps as much entitled to state their own case as those others to state it for them. They deny that their method is a replica of the osteopath's, or that their leader filched Still's ideas. In a Chiropractic manual entitled "Here Are the Facts," issued from the Palmer School of Chiropractic at Davenport, Iowa, in February, 1921, the testimony of the heads of five osteopathic colleges—including the one at Kirksville—is deduced to the effect that Chiropractic is not taught in any osteopathic college, and that "there is a wide difference" between the two systems. Extracts from a brief prepared by the attorneys for the A. M. A. in a chiropractor malpractice case are also cited to show that they held Chiropractic distinct from Osteopathy, and "not included in the Act regulating Osteopathy."

    This seems to dispose of the charge several times repeated in the Fishbein chapter, that the elder Palmer—the reputed discoverer of Chiropractic —had borrowed or stolen the idea from the osteopaths. The charge is all the more ungracious and uncalled for, in that the eccentric but kindly old man who claimed to "have given Chiropractic to the world," arrogated very little personal credit upon the score of originality for the idea. Though he doesn't name Dr. Still as the source of his inspiration, he very freely acknowledges his indebtedness to "Dr. Jim Atkinson who lived in Davenport, Iowa, about 50 years ago," and to the ancient Egyptians who he says "practiced replacing displaced vertebræ for the relief of human ills at least 3,000 years ago."

    In "The Chiropractor's Adjuster," D. D. Palmer's "own book," page 11 the author of the new system says:

    "I have repeatedly stated, both in print and by word of mouth, that I am not the first person to replace subluxated vertebræ, for this art has been practiced for thousands of years. I do claim, however, to be the first to replace displaced vertebræ by using the spinous and transverse processes as levers wherewith to rack subluxated vertebra into normal position, and from this basic fact to have created a science which is destined to revolutionize the theory and practice of the healing art."

    "The Chiropractor's Adjuster," a volume of nearly 1,000 pages, further described as "A Textbook of the Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic," is a most remarkable conglomeration of instruction in Chiropractic technique—embellished with skeletal diagrams, anatomy, physiology, biology and pathology, interspersed with bits of autobiography, neighborly reminiscences, poetry and religion.

    For the author of the manipulative therapy which is causing so much disturbance in the medical world, was a very religious man, and before he invented the chiropractic method of "laying on of hands," had practiced it after the Scriptural fashion. He relates furthermore: "I was a magnetic healer for nine years previous to discovering the principles of Chiropractic"; and as indicating his intimacy with the clergy, he says, "In honor and remembrance of the fact that the principles revealed to me by Dr. Atkinson were direct from the Greeks, the Rev. Samuel H. Weed of Portland selected for me at my request two Greek words, cheir and praxis, meaning when combined 'done by hand,' from which I coined the word 'chiro-practic.' "

    Thus the stamp of "Greek culture" was placed upon the name at least of the new healing cult, and the fact that a clergyman had assisted at the christening, should commend it to the favor of the Church. It is a curious circumstance—to be noted in passing—that both the doctors of the body and the doctors of the soul have found Greek nomenclature very useful in their business.

    One of the counts in Dr. Fishbein's indictment of Osteopathy, was, that Andrew Still "felt himself the recipient of a divine revelation"; and to this he adds the further plaint: "The belief in private and confidential relationships with the Deity seems to be an inevitable part of the credo of every healing cult that has interfered with the progress of scientific medicine." This sounds like a rather indiscreet admission from the medical side of the controversy, seeing that it implies some inherent conflict between "scientific medicine" and "the will of God." Can it be because of its past and present close association with the "black arts" of necromancy and vivisection, that "scientific medicine" is opposed by the Deity?

    Equally with Andrew T. Still, D. D. Palmer believed himself "in tune with the Infinite," and this brings him under the Fishbein condemnation at the outset. The charge of religious fanaticism is heightened in Palmer's case by his claim to be able to heal by magnetic passes over the patient's body. For the theory of animal magnetism—"a fluid which pervades the universe, but is most active in the human nervous organization and enables one man surcharged with it to exert a powerful influence over others"—appears to be particularly offensive to the author of "The Medical Follies." Anton Mesmer, the famous Swiss physician who made this theory the basis of a system which set the scientific world of Vienna and Paris by the ears in the closing years of the 18th century, is denounced in the Fishbein book as "the prince of impostors."

    Dr. Eugene Pellette, an osteopathic critic of D. D. Palmer, says "he ran a grocery and fish store, when he discovered he could give magnetic treatments and became a magnetic healer, which every one knows nowadays is a fake." But the verdict of history seems to be against Drs. Pellette and Fishbein. Pliny refers to this particular gift of healing in the words: "There are men whose whole bodies possess medicinal properties, who cure the bite of serpents merely by the touch." The pious Edward the Confessor of England, and Philip I of France are historic instances of this power, as also the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Vespasian. Mesmer's success with magnetic healing in Vienna was so great that the "regulars" of his day—in accordance with their immemorial custom—ran him out of Germany; and at Paris where he took refuge, the furor created by the fame of his treatment led to the appointment of a Royal Commission in 1784 to investigate the claims of the new therapy. This Commission composed of four physicians and five savants of the Academy of Sciences, brought in a report which admitted the facts claimed by Mesmer, but denied the magnetic fluid theory. On this Commission were Lavoisier the chemist, Jussieu the naturalist, and our own Benjamin Franklin who was in Paris at that time. Wilder's History (page 269) says: "The Report failed to meet the issue, and so far from producing conviction, actually imparted new confidence to the champions of the new science."

    Although—as he tells us in his book—Palmer had been pondering "the principles of Chiropractic" during the years he practiced magnetic healing, the full revelation of "the chiropractic thrust," which was to give to his art its distinctive technique—separating it from all other manipulative systems did not dawn upon him until September, 1895.

    And then it came from a very humble source. On page 18 of "The Chiropractor's Adjuster," its author relates:

    "In the Ryan Block where I had my office, Harvey Lillard, the colored janitor, had been so deaf for 17 years he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch. I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness, and was informed that when he was exerting himself once in a cramped, stooped position, he felt something give way in his back and immediately became deaf. . . . I persuaded him to let me examine it, when I found a vertebra racked from its normal position. I replaced it, using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before."

    This story is repeated in all Chiropractic literature wherever the genesis of the new system is told, and even Dr. Fishbein has not slighted it. He relates it, however, only to scoff at its truth, and to convict its narrator of filching a leaf from the osteopathic book.

    "As for Harvey Lillard's deafness," says Fishbein, "if it was not imaginary, one can only surmise that it was of that order known as hysterical deafness, not due to any organic defect, and curable—as thousands of such cases always have been cured, by any strong suggestion—including the laying on of hands!"

    Isn't it strange how ready the average M.D. is to attribute to mental suggestibility any reputed cure by other than allopathic means? And how unconscious he seems to be of the fact that his own reputed cures might be accounted for one the same principle?

    This attitude of the average M.D. reflects the trade-union element in the medical system, which is the majority element, and the element which Dr. Fishbein so faithfully represents. There are honorable exceptions to this, however, in the few enlightened members of the profession who have the ability to perceive, and the courage to speak up for scientific truth. Thus William Osier in his "Modern Medicine," says that "most drugs have no curative effect whatever on the diseases for which they are administered," and that the more enlightened doctors now realize it. Most conspicuous among those in America who realize the futility or harmfulness of drugs, is Dr. Richard C. Cabot of the Harvard Medical School, who has gone on record quite recently with the statement: "Every educated physician knows that most diseases are not appreciably helped by drugs."

    Because of this recognition by the more progressive element in the medical profession, Dr. Osier said: "We do not now feel under obligation to give any drugs at all, except where the patient's attitude, or the attitude of his family makes it expedient, in order to create in him the buoyant expectancy which is the real curative agent." Here is a nut for Dr. Fishbein to crack:

    Dr. William Osier, the greatest medical authority of his time in the English-speaking countries, not only admits the worthlessness of drugs—the time-honored mainstay of his profession—but virtually concedes the only therapeutic value resident in any medical procedure, is its ability to bring into play the psychic factor of hope—because of the patient's faith in it!

    In contrast to Dr. Osier's views, the author of "Medical Follies" mouths pompously of "the scientific pharmacology of to-day," and lauds the virtues of quinine, digitalis, and salvarsan—three of the most destructive drugs known to medical practice. I have met recently in California a very bright and interesting young English man whose hearing had been nearly destroyed and his career crippled, by the family doctor's persistent prescribing of quinine for malaria, which would have yielded much more readily to judicious dieting. The harmful effects of digitalis upon a pathological heart action have been so often proven, that where the doctor hasn't sense enough to leave it off, the patient frequently has.

    On page 42 of "The Medical Follies," Dr. Fishbein deposes:

    "Before the rapid effects of the satisfactory administration of mercury and '606,' measurable by a Wassermann test, theories of 'psora' and 'similars' could not exist."

    The unreliable character of the "Wassermann test" is attested by physicians who have used it, and is further attested by the employment of other "tests," by the spinal puncture, and other devices for detecting the pale microbe which being sometimes found—not always—in conjunction with the diseased condition known as syphilis, is accused by bacteriologists of the Pasteur school with being the cause of it.

    Many persons—including many doctors—do not know that there is another version of the function of disease germs than that promulgated by Pasteur. This other version, which was first expounded to the scientific world by Antoine Bèchamp, professor of Medical Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Montpellier, sees in the microorganisms associated with disease not the pathogenic cause of the trouble; but the concomitant effect of the diseased condition which called the germs into being. They ome to consume the morbific matter which is poisoning the system, and act as friendly scavengers rather than hostile invaders. This theory of bacteria is so much more in accord with the known behavior of bacteria, and with the known facts about disease, than the Pasteur version, that all persons who reason about things in a commonsense way and are not tied to the heel of medical dogma, accept the Bèchamp explanation of germs as the more rational and plausible one.

    Among Bèchamp's contemporaries—who were also Pasteur's contemporaries—in the medical world to endorse this scavenger theory of disease germs, were Sir Lawson Tait, Sir Henry Maudesley, and Dr. Henry Bastian in England; while later endorsers have been Charles Stirling Saunder, H. Fergie Woods, Reginald Austin, Herbert Snow, and others of equal authority.

    But the great majority of the medical profession in all the countries, following Pasteur's bad lead, have proclaimed the omnipresent and inescapable microbe as the deadly enemy of man and beast. Hence the sum total of medical wisdom to date, is comprised in the maxim: Find the microbe and kill it, with special emphasis on the killing! Indeed, the failure to find the "bug" interferes not in the slightest with the most elaborate preparations for killing it; and the history of so-called "preventive medicine"—which is the system built on Pasteur's germ theory—shows that the bacillus which has been the special object of exterminating zeal—the smallpox germ—has been the most successful in eluding medical pursuit. And although they have had better success in rounding up and identifying the pallida spirocheta, this does not appear to have helped appreciably in the medical treatment for the malady the spirocheta is supposed to be responsible for.

    Dr. J. H. Tilden of Denver, a medically trained man who has also had wide experience in natural methods of cure, says: "The present medical opinion and treatment of venereal diseases are an infinitely greater menace to the world than will be all the diseases of mankind when they are understood and treated according to the toxic theory." Dr. Lindlahr, another reformed M.D. who saw the light and became the apostle of Nature Cure, thus testifies:

    "Veneral diseases in the acute, inflammatory stages, are easily and completely curable by natural methods of living and treatment; but if suppressed by any of the powerful drugs—iodine, saharsan, '606,' etc., they will find an outlet later on in the manifold 'secondary' and 'tertiary' symptoms. . . . It may take the mercurial poison five, ten, or even fifteen years to work its way into the brain and spinal cord, to cause the characteristic degeneration of tissue which manifests outwardly as locomotor ataxia, paresis, apoplexy, epilepsy, and insanity."

    In this connection we may recall the testimony of Dr. Alexis Carrel on the steady increase of insanity in the world; also the testimony of J. Ellis Barker, Sir Arbuthnot Lane, and others as to the cancer-producing effects of any form of slow, chronic poisoning; and remembering at the same time that the medical hypodermic has been unusually active in the past 50 years—dispensing arsenic, disease cultures and what not; are we not justified in joining the two as cause and effect, and charging at least a portion of this heavy disease harvest up to the slow, sure curse of mercurial poison?

    Professor E. A. Farrington, an eminent homeopath of Philadelphia, is quoted as saying:

    "Beware how you give mercury. It is a treacherous medicine. It seems often indicated; you give it and relieve, but your patient is worse again in a few weeks. Then you give it again with relief. By and by it fails you, and the patient becomes paralyzed or imbecile."

    Because of the compiling of vital statistics and the control of hospital records by the same "regular" school which practices and endorses the use of mercury, anything like a full report of all its disastrous sequelæ cannot be obtained, of course; but occasionally something leaks out to the public which serves as a pointer to what such a report might reveal. A few years ago, in Los Angeles County Hospital, eight men were given "shots" of neo-salvarsan. Seven of them died within 24 hours, and the eighth man became unconscious and died later. Suppose that on that same day, seven Los Angels chiropractors had irretrievably dislocated that many necks of their patients, and injured others so seriously that they died later? Then imagine if you can, the loud squawk going up from medical officialdom over the "dangers" of chiropractic manipulation, and the trumpeting of these supposed fatalities throughout the lay and medical press. Yet the salvarsan casualties in the Los Angeles hospital referred to did not get beyond the California press, with rather casual mention in some of that.

    The "Medical Follies" (page 79) relates, "there are court records of fractures of the bones brought about by this gentle manipulation known as the Chiropractic Trust." But Historian Fishbein does not mention the court records of the 69 damage suits instituted against the Mulford Company (manufacturers of vaccines, serums, toxin-antitoxin, etc.) and the damages awarded—upwards of $80,000—in the Texas court, because of the killing outright of 10 children, and the serious illness of 60 more, in Dallas in the Fall of 1919, following the administration of toxin-antitoxin supplied by the Mulford Company. (This was "the magic stuff that saved Nome.")

    Perhaps Dr. Fishbein had not heard of these Dallas casualties, since he belongs to a profession which "does not believe in advertising"—such things. The chiropractors, on the other hand, do believe in advertising their "goods," in the full confidence of being able to "deliver" them, and they make not the least bones about saying so. One does not have to subscribe to the chiropractor's faith in his ability to "deliver the goods," to see that his attitude toward advertising is the straightforward, justifiable course; and the medical pretense of being against it is both illogical and hypocritical. If any school of therapists—drug or drugless—honestly believe that they possess something which can relieve human suffering, it is not only their inalienable right, but their solemn duty to proclaim it widely. This also applies to any individual therapist who is convinced, or may have convinced others, that he has unusual skill in healing. To argue otherwise, would justify the conduct of a member of a thirsty caravan who having strayed from his fellows on the dusty march and come upon a spring in the desert, would refuse to let the others know about it.

    As a matter of fact—and their "ethical" pretense to the contrary, notwithstanding—medical men do advertise considerably more than the drugless men, for the simple reason that they have been in the business longer and have acquired more advertising "tricks of trade"—as well as more money to pay the bill. The criticism of medical advertising is not on the score of advertising, which is perfectly justifiable, and as legitimate as in any other business ; but what we censure, is, WHAT they advertise, and the pretense that they are not doing it.

    The chiropractors' greater frankness in the matter is commendable, and shames the cowardice of the M.D.'s. Whether for this reason, or because of chiropractic flouting of medical traditions and theories in general, this newest manipulative Cult appears to have fallen under the special ban of medical displeasure. They have been more hounded and persecuted than any other therapeutic sect, there having been in this country alone more than 15,000 court prosecutions. Dr. Lyndon E. Lee, president of Greater New York District Chiropractic Society, and chairman of their Committee on Legislation, says: "In over 80 per cent of these cases, the juries returned verdicts of "Not guilty," and in every case except one which the Medical Boards appealed to Supreme Courts, those jury verdicts were sustained."

    The opinion of a Supreme Court justice handed down in a decision of the Court in the State of Tennessee in 1920, is significant, and worth recalling. Judge Lansden delivered the Court's opinion as follows:

    "The Court thinks that Chiropractors cannot be classed along with charlatans and fakirs. It is a well-developed system of healing, recognized in many jurisdictions, and many believe in its efficacy.

    "It is not suggested on the record that the practice of Chiropractic is in any way deleterious to the human body. Our statutes undertake to provide that no one shall practice the healing art until he has been examined by our various Boards and duly licensed. As a condition to obtaining license, the applicant must pursue a course of study covering many subjects. Chiropractors have no occasion to apply much of this learning.

    "The Court is of the opinion that since their treatments are not shown to be injurious to anybody—they do not give medicine, operate, or subject the body to injurious manipulation— the requirement that they study and be examined on subjects in no way pertaining to their occupation is an arbitrary and unreasonable attempt to restrict their liberties and the liberty of the people who wish to patronize them.

    "Such regulation has no reasonable tendency to promote the public safety and welfare. The Court recognizes fully the power of the Lesgislature to regulate the practice of Chiropractic by appropriate legislation. A Board may be created to do this, or the present Board empowered to regulate this profession under suitable regulations. An innocent business, however, cannot be prohibited under the guise of regulation.

    "Our statutes, therefore, if they may be said to prohibit the practice of Chiropractic, are invalid to this extent."

    The Supreme Court of Illinois, in a similar case, i.e., a chiropractor fined for practicing as a chiropractor without a license, sustained his defense that the law was unconstitutional, and ruled:

    "The regulation of the department of registration and education to the effect that plaintiff in error and his class of physicians are required to accompany their application by letters of recommendation with regard to their moral and professional character from at least two reputable medical men or osteopaths, is arbitrary and unreasonable.

    "The prejudice existing against chiropractors by medical men and osteopaths is known to be intense and in many cases, very unreasonable. For a chiropractor to have to conform to such a regulation would in all probability result in his being excluded from any examination whatever by reason of his inability to obtain such a certificate, although he might be able to establish a good moral character and a good professional standing by competent men in his own or other professions and callings outside of the medical profession.

    Such rules and regulations of the Boar,d are subject to review by the courts, to determine whether or not they are reasonable or unreasonable and discriminatory." People v. Kane, 288 Ill.)

    Besides these two decisions distinctly favorable to Chiropractic, ten other State Supreme Courts have held that drugless healing is not the practice of medicine. Sixteen States and one Territory (Hawaii) permit chiropractors to have their own Examining Boards; eight others and two foreign nations give Chiropractic legal recognition; two States and one Territory have no legal restrictions against it, and one State, Wisconsin, exempts Chiropractic from Medical Practice Laws.

    There are other evidences that medical persecution of chiropractors has "returned to plague" the persecutors, and instead of working to the detriment of the new Cult, has been of real benefit. This is a psychologic truism which persecutors in all ages have refused to recognize. On hearing that their court fines went to the prosecuting medical boards, convicted chiropractors decided on a bit of heroics. Instead of paying the imposed fines, they preferred to go to jail.

    In California one year 450 chiropractors went to jail chanting the "Onward-Christian-Soldier" Marsellaise of their faith. The next time the question of licensing chiropractors in the State of California was submitted to a popular referendum, the bill which in a previous election had been rejected by 1,500 majority, won the second time by a safe 145,000, and the number of chiropractors in California increased from 600 to 1,700 in a very short time.

    Dr. Fishbein's pleasing metaphor, describing Chiropractic as "the malignant tumor on the body of Osteopathy," is justified in the more rapid growth of the later Cult, seeing that tumor cells always multiply more rapidly than those of the parent trunk. Starting 20 years after Osteopathy was launched by Dr. Still, Chiropractic in little more than half the time has more than twice the number of colleges, and probably three times as many practitioners as the older manipulative system. The parent school at Davenport, Iowa, the Palmer School of Chiropractic, at one time had 3,000 students in daily attendance. The National College at Chicago, the Universal in Pittsburgh, the Missouri Chiropractic College at St. Louis, and the Pacific College at Portland, Oregon, are some of the more important of the 15 colleges maintained by chiropractors.

    The best Chiropractic schools now have a prescribes three-year course of study—even Dr. Fishbein concedes this, I believe—and the subjects displayed in their curricula, Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Biology, Chemistry, Obstetrics, etc., besides their own peculiar technique, seem to cover all the necessary technical information that might be useful in handling the sick. This offsets to a degree the charge of illiteracy so often flung at chiropractors, and in which the Fishbein chapter fairly revels. This stigma was undoubtedly deserved in the past, and may apply yet in individual cases; but the Chiropractic colleges are making an honest effort to remove it, and there are more and more educated and college-bred chiropractors.

    One feels, moreover, that illiteracy in one who essays to practise the healing art, might be a more serious disability if the medical profession had ever demonstrated—in the 3,000 or more years it has been on the job—that learning of the kind acquired  in medical schools is of any proven value in the treatment or control of disease. So long as the medical record stands as at present, medical practitioners have no stones to fling at any other school, no matter how illiterate.

    In a recent work entitled "Microbe Hunters," the author describes the first of them, Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the modern microscope, as an uncultured man, ignorant of Latin—the sine qua non of culture in his day—and conversant with no literature except his Dutch Bible. But "just the same," says the author, "you will see that his ignorance was a great help to him, for, cut off from all of the learned nonsense of his time, he had to trust to his own eyes, his own thoughts, his own judgment."

    These are the words of Paul de Kruif, a research worker and attache of the Rockefeller Institute, and if they will apply to Leeukenhoek, why not to Andrew Still and D. D. Palmer, neither of whom was any more illiterate than the Dutch lens-maker? Indeed, from our point of view, far more important than microbe-hunting or a knowledge of dead language for those who seek to comfort suffering humanity, is the spirit of tolerance and charity displayed by the elder Palmer in the following passages from his book:

    "I am more than pleased to know that our cousins, the Osteopaths, are adopting Chiropractic methods and advancing along scientific and philosophical lines. . . . I trust they will find much in these pages to aid them in their progress.

    "It is also a pleasure for me to observe that the medical profession are absorbing Chiropractic ideas, using its methods, as shown by their books and practice.

    "In conclusion I desire to state that the larger part of what is 'new' in this book has been derived from others, for 'there is nothing new under the sun.' . . . I am specially indebted to those who have assisted me with advice and proofreading, and lastly to my faithful and ever-devoted wife for her encouragement during the many months it has taken me to write these pages."

    The simple kindliness and breadth of view expressed in these words should make the A. M. A. ashamed of itself! Even Dr. Fishbein, should he encounter them, might experience a faint qualm for the vitriolic character of his criticism of so friendly a foe.

    Chiropractic advertising carries long lists of prominent names, opera stars, musicians, actors, writers, bankers, business men and social leaders who, it is claimed, "have been benefited by the treatment." Whether this claim can be substantiated or not, the bare fact that these famous people have sought chiropractic aid—and the names are of such prominence that no one would dare publish them unauthorized—advertises their disappointment with the "regular" school. In other words, if these celebrities in chiropractors' offices do not spell Chiropractic success, their presence there does spell medical failure! The Chiropractic figures in the 1918 "Flu" epidemic showed a loss of one patient in 789, whereas the M.D.'s lost one in 16. If there is no virtue in Chiropractic treatments per se, then there must be a lot of virtue in simply getting away from the medical treatment! 

     

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