Curing vs. Healing

by Dr. Scott Lampshire | General

People almost always seek care because they have some pain, symptom or difficult condition that lets them know that life isn’t working and they must make a change. Examples are neck pain, back pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, depression, or a digestive disturbance like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s Disease. Or they’re too often impatient or angry with their young child, older parent or partner. All of these are signs of life out of balance.

When we recognize that we can no longer comfortably do our work, enjoy our family or fully participate in our recreation, we know we need help. When we notice the withdrawal from those close to us, we have a big problem … that needs fixing, now.

It is this awareness that our life is no longer working that leads us to seek care.

Through the patterns of the fight-or-flight response in the primitive brain, the nervous system instinctively, unconsciously recognizes pain (physical or otherwise), as a possible threat to survival, something to be avoided. If we can’t avoid it, we get it “treated,” gotten rid of. Part of our survival reflex motivates us to be “cured” as soon as possible. We want to be restored, to how we were before the pain, or condition began.

Our medical system is based upon this premise. Doctors are trained to connect the pain, or symptoms with a label – declare a diagnosis. Then the treatment for that diagnosis begins, to vanquish the symptoms. When we are in pain, or distress, we need that distress to stop. When we hear the diagnosis from the doctor, we trust that the problem has been identified, and that the subsequent treatment will eradicate our problem.

Imagine that I or some other doctor could declare what the problem is, then wave a “magic wand,” or give you the “magic bullet.” “Treatment” will get life back to the way things were before the problem began … symptoms will disappear and you could go right back to your life the way it was.

But hold on … If you were restored to the same state you were before the problem began, with no understanding or awareness of how you got there, wouldn’t you just be set up to end up with the exact same, or similar problem?

When confronted with symptoms, pain or other condition, what if we were to recognize it as a wake up call? What if the symptoms are our body’s way of trying to get our attention, and notice that something needs to change, to pay attention, and do something different? What if symptoms are the path to new understanding, and discovery of how live better?

This highlights the difference between curing and healing.

With curing, the focus is on symptom relief, being restored back to a previous state.

The word “healing” has its origins in the words “whole,” “hale,” and “hearty.” It implies balance, self-empowerment, choice and integration. With healing, the distress is recognized as a signal that we need to change, or attend to some part of life differently. Perhaps it’s to discover something overlooked or ignored. To reconnect with a past injury that has been tucked away, beyond conscious awareness, by the primitive nervous system, because we didn’t have the resources to deal with it at the time.

Curing, and “treatment” is great for buying us time to pay attention to how we are living; to discover what is needed to live with more balance, more harmony in our body/mind. In this way, medicines, surgery and other forms of treatment have great value. They can be a stepping-stone or a rest stop on the path to healing.

Our body/mind thrives in balance and harmony. We have the innate (inborn) ability to heal; healing is a continuous, ongoing process that spirals through a series of stages, each calling for choices that lead to growth, and to live life more effectively.

This enters the realm of art … it is here that we are living life artfully. This means we engage life as it comes to us. We respond rather than react. We connect … with our self, with others and with the community around us.

Obviously, this is a long way from bouncing between problems, symptoms and crises. Yet it’s not that far at all. Considering the money, time and energy we devote to treatment, trying to cure symptoms and escape pain, deciding to heal becomes the only real choice. It is the path to recover energy, vitality and meaning. It is the path to realize our potential, discover Aliveness in life and the experience of connection.

Dr. Scott Lampshire

Dr. Scott Lampshire

Vibrant Balance Chiropractic Care at The Wellness Resource Center
After graduating from chiropractic school, I opened a small clinic in Oregon. I had been well trained to find spinal problems and to treat them. I was determined, and so excited to be helping people with their health problems and had great success with most people and all the typical chiropractic conditions.
Dr. Scott Lampshire

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