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The Difference Between Healing and Curing

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The Difference Between Healing and Curing

Welcome back to The Pink Medicine blog series, wherein I share with you my vision for a new type of health care model, a model I call “Pink Medicine.” In a recent post, The Difference Between Sick, Well, & Whole, I talked about my father’s death and said that I learned that there is a critical difference between healing and curing.  Today I want to expound a bit on that difference.

Key to my Pink Medicine model is the notion that you can heal yourself from illness, trauma, loss – whatever is holding you back from skyrocketing to the stratosphere in all aspects of your life.

But this notion is contingent upon one key bit of semantics.

While I also believe you can cure yourself, one gigantic lesson I learned in the past few years is that healing is not the same as curing. You can cure without healing, and you can heal without curing. In medical school and residency, most of our training focused on curing. Very little attention was focused on healing. You might heal a fracture or heal a gaping surgical wound. But healing a person? Nah. Woo woo, hocus pocus horseshit.

But healing and curing are inherently different. Curing means “eliminating all evidence of disease,” while healing means “becoming whole.”

In 16 years of being a doctor, I’ve learned this key distinction and it has revolutionized the way I practice medicine. A few health conditions are easily cured. A single bladder infection can be treated with an antibiotic, and three days later, it’s cured (though you may now have a raging yeast infection).  A leg fracture may be cast, and two months later, the problem is cured. A basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be lopped off, never to return again.

But most health conditions are not so easily cured – things like migraine headaches, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, arthritis, and emphysema. Most health outcomes are much more successfully treated if they are healed from the core.

For example, you can give someone with high blood pressure three pills that barely control their hypertension, but until they learn to manage the high stress of their job in healthy ways (or quit their job), you’re unlikely to “cure” their high blood pressure. The pills are merely a Band-aid.

If someone has ovarian cancer, you can cut out the cancer and treat any remaining cells with chemotherapy. But you can only “cure” cancer if the underlying physical/ emotional/ nutritional/ life imbalances are healed. Otherwise, the cancer just comes back.

In the case of chronic illness or emotional disease, “cure” is only lasting when healing happens on a deeper level.

Once I knew in my heart that there is a difference between healing and curing, I had this “A-HA!” moment that led me to realize that everything I had been taught in medical school was suspect and needed to be reevaluated. I spent 12 years of medical education learning how to cure people, but no one once spoke to me about healing.  The past five years have been about that process for me, and I will share part of what I have concluded with you in this blog post series.

What if those of us in need of healing – and those of us committed to helping others overcome illness, trauma, or loss – aim to mix healing and curing? Whoa, Nelly! Now we’re talking, baby. When you marry healing and curing, you pave the way for magic to happen.

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Read more: General Health, Guidance, Health, Men's Health, Self-Help, Spirit, Women's Health, , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

37 comments

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12:53PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Thanks for being a change and spreading the word!

5:56PM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Curing must require smoking...

11:16PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

thanks

8:53PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

I use flower essences in my healing practice. They are a form of energy medicine and relate very directly and in practical ways to what Lissa is talking about. My understanding [based on the work coming from the nature research center, Perelandra] is this. The body has electrical circuts that deal with physical level cureing.This is the circutry that kicks in when you get an injury, if all goes as it should. But if you also suffer emotional trauma, that is a different set of circuts, and if you never quite get past the shock, these circuts stay disconnected and healing does not occur in a timely manner. If healing does not occur, the physical cureing circuts don't kick in properly and it takes a very long time to recuperate.A chronic illness indicates that there are lots of emotional stresors and freyed circutry. The good news is, that you can begin to repair those damaged circuts at any time and gradually bring youself back to health, gaining insight all along the way.As Dace J said, perhaps without even realizing how accurate her statement was, "Real healing ignites the bodys internal healing force and stimulates the bodys natural abilities to heal itself." Any one interested in truely taking responsibility for their own health check out the Perelandra ltd website. It is located in Warrington, Virginia. Mechalle Small Wright is the head researcher.I've used her products for years on myself, plants, animals and land, various projects and equipment . Everything has circutry.

2:26PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

thank you for posting

10:38PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

thanks

2:54PM PDT on Oct 8, 2011

Yes, we need to take the time to assume responsibility for our own health as in every other aspect of lives. Why do so may people delegate this area? Can never understand "passively.....handing over one's power" in this regard. I am not saying not to follow a doctor's advice, but first do the research and make sure it is also your decision. As to cutting out cancer without working out the cause and stopping it, personally, it just defies all logic. After all...if nothing changes, nothing changes. I'm afraid my simple mind has always equated it to pulling out the wire connected to the oil light in our car, because it was showing red, and then expecting to continue the journey. Please help people to take responsibility for healing themselves Lisa. Good article.

9:47AM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

I believe in the power of prayer and praying for the doctors who help us with what we need. Miracles do happen when God wants it to. Have faith...

11:56PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Interesting article - thanks for posting.

11:36PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Treat the whole person not just the sympton.We were taught wholistic care.Good article thankyou.

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I love avacados so it is great to know that they are so good for you as well!

Interesting article, thank you

Thank you!

I agree with Geoff P

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