Past Conferences

2013: Vitalism and Value

With the publication of Future Shock by Alvin Toffler in 1977 the American public was introduced to the concept of “futurists” and their work. Since that time the methods used by futurists have been refined and they now represent an important planning tool for governments, corporations, institutions and individuals.

In 1977 Alvin Toffler, James Dator and Clem Bezold founded a futurist work group known as The Institute for Alternative Futures Today Dr. Bezold serves as the Chairman of the Board and senior futurist for the IAF.

In March 2013 the IAF released a report looking at the future of the chiropractic profession entitled Chiropractic: 2025. In this scenario approach to looking at various futures the earlier work of The Octagon was noted and highlighted by Dr. Bezold and colleagues. Obviously we at The Octagon are appreciative of the acknowledgement provided by the IAF, but more importantly we are very excited that an organization such as the IAF and a futurist such as Dr. Bezold appreciated the potential in the areas in which we have been active.

The question before us at The Octagon, in light of Chiropractic: 2025 is ‘what can be done to bring about the possible future outlined by the IAF in “Vitalism and Value”, the fourth scenario of their report?’ To this end The Octagon Conference 2013 was reconfigured and rescheduled to immediately respond and react to this opportunity.

On September 12-14, 2013 an invitational group of leaders representing futurists, health care providers, policy advisors, researchers and consumers will gather to explore a re-engineering of “Vitalism and Value” with a goal toward the development of strategies to hasten the arrival of the reality envisioned by the IAF in this scenario.

Proceedings from these discussions are being prepared at this time and will be posted as soon as they are complete. Stay tuned!

We thank you for your interest in The Octagon and we encourage you to follow our efforts here.


2012: Reimagining Health Care; Making Health the Goal


Health care reform is presenting significant opportunities for redefining all aspects of health care: which services for which conditions under which circumstances; how those services and providers are organized; how care is delivered; and the economic organization of the transactions that fund the system.

Great attention is being paid to the concepts of a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). These models may prove to be vehicles that are broadly adopted as health care reform continues to unfold.

If they are, what are the opportunities, perils, threats, and rewards for various professions already engaged in health care–but rarely in a coordinated fashion? Is care integration required? By whom, and under which circumstances? Many more questions exist than answers.

The Octagon brought together significant voices and stakeholders to address these and other questions in an effort to develop templates for health homes and ACOs that incorporate a broad spectrum of health care options–especially as the need for wellness promotion in vitalistic terms becomes more clearly understood–and economically important.

Conference agenda, video, pictures and sponsors can be viewed on the 2012 Conference page.

2011: Contemporary Scientific Paradigms: A New Model for Subluxation

Scientific paradigms underlie much of the way research is performed, observations are made and data are interpreted. These paradigms are useful for managing information about the world we live in, but the nature of those paradigms and the fundamental usefulness of them are rarely discussed or challenged. In health care, the dominant scientific paradigm of the twentieth century has been one of mechanistic scientific inquiry, yet this paradigm is inadequate for explaining many phenomena observed in health and healing.

If this paradigm is inadequate, what should replace it? For the chiropractic profession, mechanistic theoretical models have not proven useful to explain, nor explore, the concept of subluxation. There are corollaries in every health care discipline.

Is there a better way?

Bruce Lipton, PhD points to research that concludes our genome is not a static blueprint of how our life force expresses itself, but something capable of a degree of plasticity, mutability and responsiveness that means we are actually in a constant, dynamic relationship with our environment and ecosystem.

Joe Dispenza, DC, posits that there is a constant, ongoing internal dialogue between what we artificially separate into ‘mind’ and ‘body.’ This dialogue of belief essentially sets the terms for what we experience of the realities available to us.

Fred Carrick, DC PhD argues that there is evidence that the information we acquire about our environment plays a critical role in our adaptation to stressors, and that this ongoing interpretive process changes the very structure of our physical being, and hence our ability to effectively function.

These speakers and more came to Life University in Marietta, Georgia (map link is here) this past April 14-16, 2011 and discussed these concepts, issues, and worked to outline a new theoretical model that is more capable of explaining these and other phenomena related to growth, development, health and healing. Gerry Clum, DC led this effort as the new Executive Director of the Octagon, with contributions by Drs. Lipton, Dispenza, Carrick, Dr. Rob Scott and others.

There is a need for this ‘vital conversation’ about the nature of our relationship to our environment, other individuals, and how we can best support, manage and treat the innate capacities for health that every one of us embodies.

Conference Working Summits, Consensus Statements, and Videos available here.

2010: Vitalism Working Summits


At the 2009 Octagon conference on The New Vitalism, conference faculty charged Octagon staff with convening a group of interested stakeholders to develop a set of tactical plans and steps to ‘operationalize’ the consensus definition of vitalism and the vital reaction. As ‘the new vitalism’ gains more interested stakeholders and the potential relevance of utilizing it to inform various educational, policy, legal, and societal efforts and initiatives, it will be important to develop a ‘road map’ of strategies and tactics, and to ensure that the broadest group of potential stakeholders are informed of the opportunities for awareness, participation, and engagement.

On April 8th and 9th, 2010, a small group of invited conversants met during Life University’s Spring Lyceum event to have some of these discussions.

Three ‘focused conversations’ took place with a core set of participants leading the facilitated discussions.

These were held as an extension of the 2009 Octagon conference on The New Vitalism, Vis Medicatrix Naturae: Stewardship of the Source of Healing. The work products of these informal meetings are available below.

Among the questions that were considered were:


  • Can a new paradigm of health and healing be constructed based on precepts identified in the philosophy and cosmology of vitalism? What or whom does this paradigm potentially include? What or whom does it potentially exclude?
  • To broaden the consideration, development, adoption and utilization of such a paradigm, is the body of knowledge sufficient to develop a discipline for this paradigm?
  • If the body of knowledge is not sufficient, what elements are needed? Where might they come from?
  • What set of professions and paradigms currently considered to have value and application need to be included in this new discipline?
  • Assuming that elements of this new paradigm can be identified at present, what are some of the opportunities, challenges, and implications of applying this paradigm across the spectrum of human growth and development?
  • Anticipating that there is potential value in this application, what practical steps need to and should be taken to broaden the conversation and discourse about this, especially in various media and non-academic/non-scientific stakeholder groups or ‘end users’?
  • Expecting that one of the specific areas of potential value is in the development and application of American health policy, what relationships, collaborations, discussions, etc., should be established to explore new policies, research, and outcomes models to test the paradigm?


The first group considered questions related to Developing The Discipline.


The set of questions that were discussed and considered included:

  • Building on the consensus definitions of vitalism and the vital reaction reached by accord last year, what is needed to more fully develop the body of knowledge, understanding, research, and application?
  • What professions are stakeholders?
  • What academic and non-academic areas of domain expertise are involved, interrelated, aligned, opposed, or undetermined?
  • What needs to be included? Excluded? What is the basis for each?
  • What metrics need to be agreed upon and employed to measure the parameters of the discipline?
  • Is the discipline to be maintained by a central professional, academic, or cultural authority? Or is it to be dispersed among a set of aligned interests?
  • Does the body of knowledge and information establish a defensible and intact paradigm with independent or dependent value?

The second group was convened to consider opportunities, challenges, and implications of applying the new paradigm Across the Spectrum of Human Growth and Development.

Among the types of questions that were discussed and considered were the following:

  • Assuming that a new paradigm can be defined and supported, and given different developmental ages and stages of human life, what are the potential implications of integrating this paradigm across various efforts that exist to encourage, support, provide stewardship, or directly intervene in human growth?
  • Beyond the academic domain, what areas of exploration, research, market intelligence, consumer resources, or other commercial concerns need to be incorporated in development and planning?
  • What practical and concrete steps need to be taken to communicate these efforts to various stakeholders? What resources might be required to accomplish this—human, financial, and temporal?

The third group was convened to consider a more focused application of vitalistic philosophy and consider some of the potential opportunities, challenges, and related considerations as it pertains to American health policy development. Assuming that this new paradigm of a vitalistically-based orientation toward health, wellness, system-side services and resource planning can be defined and supported, and with the understanding that American health policy is currently primarily focused on disease prevention, what are the implications of using vitalistic precepts as an alternative?

  • Again, assuming that this new paradigm can be defined and supported, and with the understanding that American health policy is primarily focused on disease prevention, what are the implications of using vitalistic precepts as an alternative?
  • How can the opportunity be framed?
  • Can vitalism and disease management co-exist, or are they mutually exclusive?
  • How should expectations for outcomes be defined?
  • What metrics should be employed for evaluating value?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are the associated political dimensions?
  • What are the potential points of engagement and opportunity?

Conference Proceedings

The work product materials that these groups created will be used as a basis for communications and outreach efforts to various stakeholders and groups identified during the conversations and beyond.

For a copy of this document, please click here.

Life University wishes to thank NCMIC for its generous support of these Octagon Working Summits.

2009: Conference Proceedings can be downloaded here.

2009 Conference Proceedings

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