Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Trouble with Healing

(Continuing from the beginning of this thread on curing and healing, posted last year...)

When your sense of safety is threatened, curing symptoms can be critical in moving out of a defended state. The fight-flee-or-freeze response is inherent in our bodies whenever we perceive a threat or trauma--increased heart rate, increased respiration, pupil dilation, decreased digestion and immune function, and most importantly, decreased blood flow to higher brain centers. The resulting physiology makes healing impossible. You cannot heal if you cannot feel, and you cannot feel if you are in defense. So sometimes curing symptoms is a key first step in getting to what actually ails us.

Healing, or the healing process as it's often described, involves facing that which you were defended against, feeling the parts you previously would not experience because of fear or anger or overwhelm. The beginning of healing is grounded in this kind of discovery, in getting reacquainted with whatever is disconnected and alienated and ready to be resolved. Very different than curing a symptom, healing involves your whole person. Indeed, you could say that one of the goals of true healing is to bring the fragmented parts of yourself together, which is the basis of holistic health.

But many times even holistic approaches can get caught in the mentality of fixing, of restoring you to your previous state,
before the ailment surfaced, before the injury or insult occurred. If only this or that hadn't happened, if only he or she was different, you would be whole and happy now. Although you are no longer isolating the "broken" part or parts of your body (i.e., curing), this type of restorative healing still puts the problem outside of yourself. What's missed is the fact that oftentimes the person you were, the life you were living was part of the problem too!

R
ecovery then becomes an ongoing journey to identify the causes and culprits of pain and to minimize future exposure. Ultimately, the result is a narrowing of choices, rather than an increase in your resourcefulness.

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