Healing vs. Curing

pine forest
Whether you are seeing the forest or the trees, there is a realization that everything is connected.  This is a holistic principle that I emphasize in my life and in my private practice as a Holistic Nurse.  The integration of the mind, body, and spirit is key to caring for – and healing – the whole person.  It is important to recognize that healing is very different from curing.  

Curing is the elimination of the signs and symptoms of disease, which may or may not correspond to the actual end of the disease or distress.  Curing follows a predictable path, and it is the prominent approach in our current sick care system.  Curing focuses on the physical body.  We can become so focused on the reduction or removal of physical symptoms that we ignore or forget about our mental, emotional and spiritual health necessary to complete the process.

Healing is multidimensional, and includes the mental, emotional, and spiritual components of the human system.  Curing may not always be possible, but healing is always possible!  Healing occurs when all levels of the human system are in the correct relationship.  The healing process emerges over time.

Consider this example: A person can take a pill for a severe headache, and the headache will go away.  This is curing.  The same person knows that the headache is caused by work stress.  As the work stress continues, the headaches will also continue – and possibly even worsen.  Until the person can create the proper relationship with their mental and physical health in the stressful work environment, the physical symptoms will reoccur.  This person may be able to experience healing through changes in attitude and the removal of negative thought patterns.

Here are two examples of healing: A person dying of AIDS is able to reconcile with their parents after a long separation.  And, a recent quadriplegic is able to refocus his life in a way to recommit himself to a life of service and meaning.  In these cases, the physical symptoms will most likely never change, but the healing does occur.

You will find that care in my practice is not about a quick fix of symptoms.  If I were to only recommend a supplement to eliminate symptoms, the lack of breadth of the treatment would be no better than the sick care system.  In my practice, holistic health is integrated into all aspects of my patients’ lives.  Healing patients is the goal of my practice.

(“Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice,” Dossey, Keegan, Guzzetta, 2005)

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