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UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


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Wilfred A. Streeter – an Osteopathic Aurist

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 March 2014

In the 1920s osteopathy began to be widely practised in the U.K. to the point that it came to the attention of the General Medical Council and the government.  Osteopathy began in the U.S.A. in 1874, and it relied on wealthy clients to grow.  In the article to which we link below, Jure Stojan discusses why in the 1920s there were moves to regulate osteopathy.

Osteopaths first attempted to achieve state regulation in the 1920s. In 1925, the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) sent a deputation to the Minister of Health. The House of Commons dropped the Regulation and Registration of Osteopathy Bill three times, in 1931, 1933, and 1934. The Bill was subsequently introduced in the Lords, where it had received a second reading before being referred to a Select Committee and finally withdrawn. After the collapse of the Osteopathy Bills—partially because of fierce opposition from the medical profession—osteopaths opted for self-regulation and established the General Council and Register of Osteopaths (GCRO). (Stojan p.2-3)

Stojan says that in the pre-war period osteopaths decided that “either they opted out of the market for alternative medicine (by obtaining statutory regulation) or they improved their position within it.”  He asks “Was statutory regulation really the desired outcome of this process?”

He argues that

When pre-war osteopaths decided not to advertise, they were signalling professionalism by following the example of other professions. An osteopathic book of the 1930s makes this connection obvious: ‘As in other respected professions, the qualified osteopath does not advertise. The results which he obtains advertise themselves.’

Wilfred Alberts Streeter, who wrote a book about osteopathy called The New Healing, used osteopathy to treat hearing problems.  I do not believe that there is any evidence to support this as a reasonable treatment and it seems that the G.M.C. agreed as we see in the cutting below.  That it comes from The Tatler is indicative of what Stojan says about their reliance on wealthy clients.

The well-known osteopathic aurist, whose achievements in curing deafness by manipulative operations are well known. Mr. Streeter’s practice is being seriously interfered with by a warning issued by the General Medical Council to doctors that they must not assist practitioners whom the council consider “unqualified.” Mr. Streeter has been employing a qualified doctor as an anaesthetist.

Regardless of the merits of osteopathy in treating back pain and the like, it is pretty clear that if he claimed to ‘cure’ deafness with it that he was a quack.




Stojan, Jure, Signalling and the quest for regulation in British complementary medicine

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