[originally published in KCN, July 2011]
The word on my white board the other day was “spizz” — a word that invariably provoked a question from each one of my patients.
“What does spizz mean, Dr. Lamar?”
“Well,” I would reply, “it’s short for spizzerinctum. Does that help?”
“No,” was the answer with a smile, I heard 99.9% of the time. No one knew what it meant — except for one elderly lady.
Well, believe it or not, this is a real word, and in a way, it’s a “chiropractic word” — just don’t expect to find it in your standard dictionary. No, for this word we need to go to that behemoth, unabridged dictionary you find in metropolitan libraries — you know, the one on the stout podium with wheels.
Though we don’t know the exact origin of the word, it seems to have gotten its start in the mid 1800’s, but it was BJ Palmer, the developer of chiropractic, that popularized this word in the 1910’s and 20’s, adopting and adapting it for the chiropractic profession.
Spizzerinctum, according to Palmer, means “enthusiasm for chiropractic.” And as some of my patients and listeners of my Spinal Column Radio podcast can attest, I have been guilty of displaying large amounts of spizzerinctum on any given day. I can almost hear Palmer exhorting to the profession, “Chiropractor, show the world your spizzerinctum!”
Outside of the chiropractic application though, spizzerinctum actually has many varied meanings. It essentially means to have a chutzpah — a backbone. It means to have a vim, a vigor, a vigilance…. a passion for something, a will to succeed.
And this is precisely why I absolutely love this word. This word, while it has a rich chiropractic connection, is a word that is not exclusive to chiropractic. And because it is not exclusive to chiropractic, it means that you can have a spizzerinctum. Do you have one?
What is it that drives you? What’s your passion? Your purpose? What puts a spring in your step? What is it that you can’t wait to share with others? It doesn’t necessarily have to be an occupation or job. It can be a hobby, an interest, a relationship, a cause… anything that gets you excited about life.
So my challenge to you is to identify your spizzerinctum. If you don’t have one, find one. Connect with it (or reconnect as it were) like you never have before, and then go forth and share it with the world! Because when you have spizzerinctum, it gives your life purpose and direction, and inspires others to have it also.
But perhaps Palmer summed up the power of this word best when he penned an article back in 1918 in his Fountain Head News.
“[Spizzerinctum] is the thing which makes calves throw up their tails and run like fury, the birds on our lanai sing in split-throat notes, the frogs croak upon the creek bank, the insects buzz and hum in the air, the milkman whistle as he jogs along, the blacksmith laughingly beat the iron into shape, the plowman urge his horses with a ‘gee-up there,’ the engineer wave a kiss to his sweetheart as he throws up the throttle,… the woodman smilingly plunge his axe into the giant tree, the banker and merchant rush to work with a cheery ‘bye-bye,’ the mechanic and laborer fairly dance to their jobs, the soldier ‘go over the top’ with clinched jaws and courage that knows no fear, the life salesman hie to his calls with shoulders squared, pride in his heart, and a nerve a-tingle with anticipation of success. Oh, ‘spizz’ is anything that puts happiness in the head, determination in the heart, energy in the hand, and invisible courage in the will.”