Dorn History 

The Dorn Method - History

The origins of the Dorn Method


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All started with Dieter Dorn (1938 — 2011)
» A short summery of the DORN history on the FAQs site.

My path to the DORN Method

Excerpt of the lecture at the first German Spine Congress of the Dorn Method in Memmingen, October 11-12, 1997.

A very mean lumbago was at the beginning

My family owns a sawmill and runs a small farm. In 1973 - I was just 35 years old - a mishap happened to me in the sawmill that was to change my life: I lifted a log awkwardly from the side and suddenly felt a strange slight crack in my lower back. After that, I could no longer straighten up. With difficulty, I just managed to drag myself to the nearest sofa. I thought it would resolve itself in fifteen minutes, but that was not the case. I couldn't get up from the sofa and had to roll down, lie on the floor, and it took me fifteen minutes to get up millimeter by millimeter. "What now?", I asked myself, "Do I go to a doctor? to a bonesetter? or what else?"

The bonesetter

I did not go to a doctor at that time. Therefore, I cannot say whether a doctor could have helped me. Possibly a disc surgery would have come out. I was also concerned about saving time, and I couldn't help thinking of a man I had laughed at 20 years earlier. Laughed at because I didn't know about back problems and the pain associated with them. I let myself be taken to this Josef Müller, the castle farmer in our town. He told me with a gesture: "Crooked people come in, and straight they go out again." And indeed: I had to swing with one leg while he pressed his thumb into my back from behind, and the pain was gone. Everything happened very quickly. This Josef Müller had copied the method a long time ago from an old farmer's wife, a small simple woman who had come to him in the stables to set up the cattle, and who had also treated the servants. Since my youth, Josef Müller now treated people from the village, about one or two people a month.

When, following the treatment, I asked him, "Can I learn to do that?" he replied, "You don't need to learn it, you can do." I was astonished, and somehow it appealed to me. To thank him, I brought him another bottle of wine, but unfortunately there was no more contact, as Josef Müller was seriously ill. Four weeks later he was in a coma and eight weeks later he died. So I had to work out the method completely by myself.

My wife's headaches

My wife had been suffering from headaches for 15 years at that time. She had exhausted almost all treatment options. A professor from Ravensburg had determined on the basis of an X-ray that two transverse processes of her vertebrae were much too long. "These press on the nerve - you would have to chisel them off," was the medical doctor's opinion. I now believe that the vertebrae were just twisted, and on the X-ray this created a kind of "optical illusion." After the professor's diagnosis, we felt at the time that we had nothing to lose, and I told my wife, "We're going to do it the same way the old man did it to me." No sooner said than done, I felt the two transverse processes with my fingers and then gently pressed so that they were seated nice and evenly. It worked; the headache was gone after that.

"I just went on instinct." (Dieter Dorn)

The neighbor

Then things soon got going. Fourteen days or three weeks later, it was our neighbor's turn. She was a single person, in the house next door, and had always picked up milk from us. One time when her milk can space was left empty, I told my wife, "We need to go over and see what's going on, she could be dead in bed." We went over and found our neighbor lying in bed. She couldn't move and complained, "My whole foot hurts so much, I can't put another millimeter up." I asked, "May I look?" - "Yes, with pleasure." - I was interested in what it could be. I had been so spurred on by my wife's success that I thought maybe I could help here, too. To my amazement, I saw that the aching leg was five inches longer than the other. That can't be normal, I thought, it must be related to the pain. Our neighbor told me that she had been seeing a doctor for a year and that the prescribed injections and radiation treatments had not been successful.

In my estimation, the painful leg was dislocated from the hip. But no one had ever shown me how to put a hip back in. I figured that if the hip was going "out," it had to go "in" again, and I proceeded quite instinctively. I lifted the leg and pushed it back into the hip, using a motion that the leg would do under natural circumstances. After this exercise, both legs were the same length again. Two hours later, the woman called out the window that she could now walk again, the pain was gone, and that I should look at it again tomorrow.

After that, our neighbor continued to walk to church every day until she was very old. The church was a kilometer away on the other side of the ridge.

The limping farmer

My next case was a farmer whom I had never known other than limping. In his case it was clearly visible that one leg was longer than the other. As with our neighbor, I managed to raise his longer leg back to his hip. Three weeks later, I learned that the farmer had fallen from a scaffold from a height of seven meters during roof work. I was sure that his hip joint had dislocated again in the fall. But nothing of the sort had happened: When he came to the sawmill as a customer a quarter of a year later, he showed me a 40-centimeter scar on his leg - the result of the wound he had sustained in the fall. The scar was on the same leg that I had treated - but the set joint had survived the fall unscathed. This was important information for me: the joint had not been worn out, because otherwise the hip would have dislocated again. The realization that joint problems like this are not so much wear and tear as "real" dislocations gave me a lot of courage as I proceeded.

"The method came to me - I didn't set out to create a method." (Dieter Dorn)

Self-help exercises

I soon discovered that people with joint problems could also help themselves. I tried it out together with sufferers to see if it was possible for them to lift their legs to their hips themselves - and the attempts succeeded. That was another step forward. The convalescents could now follow up the joint with exercises without depending on me.

Unexpected additional effects

And then my spine patients told me afterwards: "Now my heart pains are gone," or: "I can see better again," or: "With the digestion it also works again," or: "The little one is no longer a bed-wetter after the treatment," and so on. I became suspicious. If that was really the case, it would mean that everything was connected to the spine!

I looked around for literature and found the work of an American doctor and healer who had spent over a decade in China learning the native medicine: Acupuncture Without Needles by J. V. Czerny. In his book, Czerny presents a spinal constellation with the corresponding organs. He aptly describes how the meridians are connected to the spine. For example, if the seventh cervical vertebra is displaced, the big toe may hurt. It is difficult for a doctor who has not studied these connections in depth to come up with these and other assignments - he looks at the aching toe, x-rays it, and possibly gives injections. But how would he know that the source of the problem is in the seventh cervical vertebra?

I could give many examples of the connections between vertebrae and organs. For example, I once treated a nun who had tongue paralysis. Her doctor had called me. I pushed the nun's second cervical vertebra back into the right position and at the same moment the paralysis was released and everything was fine.

One particularly problematic case was this: A woman was brought to me by her partner. She was five months pregnant, her circulation was slumped, her pulse was barely palpable, and she seemed really dazed. I wanted to send her to the hospital right away. But she said that was just where she was coming from. She had received an injection and had been sent home. I palpated her digestive nerves, pushed the vertebrae in at the right place, and had barely finished when she threw up. By the time we drove home, she was feeling considerably better. Two days later, the couple came again - beaming. Here's what had happened: The pregnant woman's stomach hadn't been working because the spinal nerves that had the job of feeding it were pinched. The stomach had continued to take in food and bloat, but could not properly expand downward because the unborn baby in the belly was taking up the space. Therefore, the stomach was pushing upward on the lungs and heart. The heart now could not beat properly and therefore the circulation had collapsed.

The acquaintance with Dr. Hansen

Many years passed. I continued to experiment, research and work with the method. Then, in 1985, Dr. Thomas Hansen, formerly a surgeon and orthopedist in Bremen, approached me. He was looking for a holistic way of healing - treating only the body was no longer enough for him. After he gave up his practice and opened a house for health in Markt Rettenbach, between Memmingen and Kaufbeuren, he heard from the people in town: "If you have something in your back, you have to go to Dieter Dorn, but Dieter Dorn is not a doctor." This astonished him so much that he wanted to see who I was. Both Dr. Hansen and his wife had back problems and had me treat them. After that, Dr. Hansen came up with the idea of holding seminars on my method. He supplied me with boxes of medical literature and said, "But Mr. Dorn, you must have foundations. Otherwise you can't stand up and give seminars." So until then I was of the opinion that I was pressing on the intervertebral discs of the people I was treating. It wasn't until Dr. Hansen enlightened me: It was the spinous processes I was moving, and as those processes moved, so did the discs. So I had touched people in such an amateurish way, and still it had worked!

Then came the first seminar attempt and more followed. I was almost of the opinion that leading seminars was a gift, something that could not be learned. Fortunately, it turned out that it was not only talent.

A few people came to each event who understood the method intuitively. The method got around and convinced more and more people.

"I was such a layman! But the thing worked." (Dieter Dorn)

The method gets a name

In the meantime, the alternative practitioner and event organizer Helmuth Koch had also heard about the seminars and attended them. The method had convinced him. In 1988, he finally asked me, "Would you give your name to it?" I answered him, actually I could already give my name for it, because the method was in a way from me. Josef Müller had treated me at that time, but only on the spine. He did not know how to set a leg and, I assume, did not work with the cervical spine either.

So I had a good conscience when Helmuth Koch called it the Dorn method. But for me it is not about the name and my person. It is about the fact that the method works and that it helps many. In the meantime, many are trying to pass on the method through seminars. The Dorn Method, born in a small regional area, is already no longer a national thing - it has become an international method of treatment.

» Excerpt courtesy of the Dornforum!

Dieter Dorn said: There are three kinds of thought models in life: What can I do for myself?, What can someone else do for me?, Dieter Dorn lives with the third one: What can I do for others? We are born for others, otherwise our life make no sense, is his opinion. This is a way full of 'thorns' (Thorn translates in German as 'Dorn') maybe that is why the method is called "Dorn Method", he jokes.
Nomen est omen! In German the spinous processes are called 'Dorn Fortsaetze', in medical terms, isn't that a coincidence?

A few excerpts of the Philosophy of Dieter Dorn:

  • There is no coincidence everything falls in its place!
  • We can only improve if we bring ourselves into the "middle" (balance).
  • Most things in life do not bring the desired success because we "must" do them rather than we "want" to do them!
  • It is good to help people if this help comes from the Heart and not from the Head!
  • The patient must welcome the help given to him and  must actively invite this help to achieve healing.
  • If a student was asking: Am I doing this the correct way? Dieter Dorn always responded: If you do it careful, gentle and with your heart involved than you always do it the correct way!

The spread of the DORN Method

Some of Dieter Dorn's early students like Harald Fleig and Helmuth Koch started to give Dorn Method seminars on their own and therefore contributed in an important way for the fast spreading of the knowledge of this fantastic selfhelp method.

Helmuth Koch und Hildegard Steinhauser

Hildegard Steinhauser also learned this Method many years ago and together with her friend Helmuth Koch a well known Non Medical Practitioner in Lindau, South Germany they were on the forefront in the mission to make the Dorn Method popular and acknowledged by the medical society.

They also started the DORN congress in 1997 in Memmingen, Germany another big step in making the DORN Method more known to the public.

Her appearance on TV beginning 2000 on the show of pastor Jürgen Fliege presenting the DORN Method speeded the spread of DORN very fast.

As a Reiki Teacher and trained in acupuncture Hildegard Steinhauser thinks that learning the Dorn Method was a true Milestone in her life as a Healer and thanks to Dieter Dorn it now becomes a true blessing for humanity. 

The start of DORN International

A few of Dieter Dorn's students started already in the 1980s to introduce the DORN Method outside of germany however this movement was still slow mainly because there was no english books and no Internet yet.

This changed when Thomas Zudrell, born in south Germany and living in the Philippines from 1995 until 2006 learned the DORN Method and started teaching it on an international level.

I, Thomas Zudrell, am truly blessed that I had the chance to study this wonderful healing method first with Hildegard Steinhauser and also with Dieter Dorn and several others, and that they authorized me to spread it by teaching others in 2003. Since then I went a long way to fulfill that mission and taught many courses first in the Philippines and then many other countries around the world and treated many happy Patients along the way. I am confident that The Dorn Method will soon be known more widely in the the world and it finds its way to be recognized as a safe, gentle but effective Manual Therapy and true Selfhelp Method and a perfect complement to all other forms of Therapy in Conventional and Alternative Medicine alike.
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More and more people from the medical field like doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, non medical practitioners and chiropractors are also attending DORN seminars and are amazed about what they learn.

Thomas Zudrell also started the first Information Platform about the DORN Method on the Internet in 2004 ( and the first english book about the DORN Method followed 2005, published in the Philippines.

In May 2006 Dieter Dorn receives his copy of Thomas Zudrell`s first English Book about the Dorn Method:

Dieter Dorn und Thomas Zudrell

After his return to Germany 2006 the request for DORN training outside of germany increased fast and since then the DORN Method spreaded to more than 20 countries on all continents.

Map in the office of Thomas Zudrell:

dorn world map

Check out the international DORN practitioner directory

The next step in the development of the DORN Method was the founding of the first official DORN association in 2015:
"Deutsche Gesellschaft für die DORN Bewegung e.V.", also called DORN Bewegung = DORN movement

Today there are likely more DORN Method practitoners outside of germany than in germany itself a development that Dieter Dorn surely would have liked.

Associations have also developed in Switzerland with hundreds of members trying to help the DORN Method being recognized and accepted. Visit DORN switzerland:

A very remarkable development is taking place in India where Dr Subash and colleagues founded AIDHA (All India Dorn Healers association), trained many thousands in DORN and have already more than 1000 listed advanced practitioners. » see DORN international directory

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And the story continues....

New: DORN selfhelp exercises webapp

NOTE: Never try to use the DORN Method on other people without proper training best conducted by an authorized DORN Method Instructor. Although the DORN Method and the Self Help Exercises are very safe if done correctly, the DORN practitioner is not responsible for any consequences resulting from the application during the manual session and Selfhelp exercises. In any case it is advised to consult your doctor first because health problems and back pains may have other causes than misaligned joints and vertebrae and should be checked by a trained medical doctor or other healthcare professional. The DORN Method has certain Limitations that must be cleared prior to any practical application! Remember: The DORN Method is NO Replacement for any other form of medical or non-medical treatment but it can be a very effective complement in an integrative medical system.

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