Becoming Whole

The Difference Between Curing and Healing

When we experience injury or disease, our minds tend to think of it in absolutes: is it curable or incurable? To cure is to fix a specific part of the body, using drugs or surgery to repress or remove physical problems and restore function. Western medicine is particularly good at this, and it plays a vital role in saving lives. However, there is an important distinction between curing and healing. 

The World Health Organization defines health as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This is not the same as simply being without symptoms or illness. Instead, it implies a deeper state of wellness that goes beyond the curing of a particular infirmity.

The etymology of the words healing and health are linguistically related to whole and holy. If we trace the origins of the word health, we see that it comes from the Old High German heil, meaning healthy, unhurt, entire. And to become whole again is not always possible if we are focused only on the individual part that needs to be cured.

This is the same for any horse I work with. While I might want to see results in a specific area of the body, I need to address the entire system. Not only is a body physically intertwined between anatomical structures, it is also a matter of touching on the subtler systems as well. It is all parts working together to coalesce into something greater, something whole. In my practice, this approach is best served through applying the Masterson Method, which emphasizes “working with the horse and not on the horse.” 

This summer, I have been working with a horse called Hope, who has Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. EMP is a master of disguise. It originates through exposure to a protozoan parasite that spreads through the feces of mammals such as the opossum. It is often progressively debilitating, and it can affect any part of the nervous system. 

Hope has struggled with control of her limbs since having EPM. This particularly affects her by limiting her ability to lie down and stand up with ease. The result is that she does not rest very frequently or very fully, which adds to the drain on her entire system. Rather than addressing the front limbs alone, my approach is to activate awareness and connection throughout the whole body, head to tail. In doing so, she is becoming more adept at controlling both her lower limbs and the rest of her body. She is now lying down more frequently and more easily.

My work with Hope is a good example of the difference between healing and curing. She and I are working together to restore the balance of her nervous system. It is an integrative process that takes place at all levels: physical, mental and emotional. It aims towards restoring and preserving her health for the long haul. Focusing my healing approach on her whole-body experience instead of just on the areas that are symptomatic greatly increases her potential for an active, happy life.


2 thoughts on “Becoming Whole

  1. What a remarkable post, Elizabeth. I appreciate the context you provided beginning with the difference between curing and healing.
    And then using Hope as a specific example was so helpful to illustrate your work. Well done.


  2. Thanks for the care you take in communicating and caring for others.
    I find myself thinking about my life and expectations for this day from a different angle, that is, moved a bit by your vision.


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