It is the scariest thing that could ever happen, when a referral takes one to see a psychiatrist. Worse still is if our greatest fears are confirmed! Imagine all the questions that flood your mind? What is going to happen to work, family, friends, finances. Oooh the stigma and shame, the list goes on and on. It suddenly sinks in that we are all vulnerable! There is no exception! The truth is ……………
While a cure is a successful medical treatment, it can be seen as a treatment that removes all evidence of the disease and allows the person who previously had for instance cancer to live as long as he would have lived without cancer. A cure is what the physician hopes to bring to the patient. Curing is what the doctors hope to do, the external medical process of effecting an outcome in which the disease disappears. In the treatment of mental disorders, cure is more of a rarity. The relapsing nature of most mental disorders makes the process of healing far more acceptable.
Healing, in contrast, is an inner process through which a person becomes whole. Healing can take place at the physical level, as when a wound or broken bone heals. It can take place at an emotional level, as when we recover from terrible childhood traumas or from a death or a divorce. It can take place at a mental or cognitive level, as when we learn to reframe or restructure destructive ideas about ourselves and the world that we carried in the past. This is level at which choices hugely play a role. We could choose to get on with our lives (in effect ‘enjoy’ life) irrespective of what has happened to us. And it can take place at what some would call a spiritual level, as when we move toward God, toward a deeper connection with nature, or toward inner peace resulting from a greater sense of connectedness.
Just like it is for any cure to work, the physical healing power of the organism need be sufficient to enable recovery to take place likewise the healing in a variety of mental disorders involves the conscious and deliberate effort by a patient to rise above past trauma and wrong doings and forge ahead. When a physician sets a bone or prescribes an antibiotic for an infection, he is doing his part for recovery by offering curative therapy. Yet when the inner healing power of the organism is insufficiently strong, the bone will not knit or the infection will not subside. Healing is thus a necessary part of curing–a fact with profound implications for medicine, since the authentically holistic physician is deeply aware of the essential role his patient’s recuperative powers play and will do everything he can to encourage the patient to enhance those recuperative powers.
Healing and Spirituality
The healing process not only has a tendency to bring people closer to an appreciation of who they uniquely are and what their unique purpose is in this world. It also brings them closer to God, spirit, inner peace, connectedness, or whatever we choose to call that which is great and mysterious.
The longer I have considered this fact–the fundamental connection between healing and psychological development–the more I think of it as one of the most remarkable signatory details left to us by the architect of human consciousness, whoever that may be. Consider how truly elegant the design process is that created us so that in the face of the most difficult times of our lives, there is the possibility–not the certainty but the possibility–of access to states of awareness and experience that enable us to cope with these crises better than we otherwise could. And consider how remarkable it is that these states of awareness make many people say that they feel more alive and more whole with mental illness than they ever felt before. Consider how curious it is that many people come to acknowledge, in the face of the pain, shock, and suffering of mental illness, that there also can be gains of immense personal value. If anything the humbling experience that no one is infallible. We all carry the vulnerability of mental disorder and the main issue that is critical is when it happens rather than that we are immune to it. The choices we make i.e how we react to life threatening events determine to a large extent how susceptible we could become and in majority of cases how we heal from psychological traumas.
 Five-year cancer-free survival is often considered a “cure” with many cancers for statistical purposes, but this is a dubious use of the term. A truly “cured” cancer patient should live as long as he would have without cancer.