Saturday, July 29, 2017

Healing vs. Recovery

Distinctions are sometimes made in the field of mental health between "recovery" and "healing". I have tended to think of the former as simply representing the cessation of the more unpleasant symptoms of mental illness, and as a mere "way station" to true healing.

I am persuaded now, though, that healing is better described as completed recovery. Recovery calls for good coping methods to deal with the effects of the trauma that induced the "illness" in the first place. Once such methods are in place (therapy, exercise, proper nutrition, prayer/contemplation, etc), and have become habitual, then we can begin to heal-or rather, continue to heal. Note that medication should be used only as a last resort, and patients should be weaned off all psychotropic drugs as soon as possible. Medication can do no more than mask symptoms-it can never promote growth.

What is healing, then? It is the casting off of all false selves. It is becoming truly what we are, with no accommodations to the trauma that caused the false selves to arise, or to social norms. Does that mean we become moral free agents? No, it means that our truest selves are driven by love for others, and ourselves. Evil is "unreal"-it exists, to be sure, but only as a manifestation of unpursued goodness.

The truth is, we tend to either follow social cues, and pursue a path of mindless conformity, or go our own way for its own sake, casting ourselves as contrarians, as relentless pursuers of Truth, when in fact we may just be snobs. (I tend to be guilty of the latter). Neither is healthy.

It may sound solipsistic, and excessively in tune with the mindless slogans of our warped culture, but in fact we only need to be ourselves. The best, truest version of ourselves. This is wholeness. This is the healed human.


  1. you are neither snob nor conformist but rather a writer and an explorer.

  2. By and large, I agree. The second paragraph is especially apt. Just a couple points.

    From my experience as a consumer and having both lived in, and worked for (as a CPS) the system, I can attest to the fact that healing is almost never mentioned in groups or ever discussed as an idea. Recovery is pretty much the whole ball game. And the rules for healing and rules for recovery will, at times, completely diverge. So they are, at times, opposites, and, at others a duality, and at others complimentary or supplementary, but it is the balance between these two concepts which augment them both. If healing is not balanced with recovery (and vice versa) then both healing AND recovery will fail. This is why, in my opinion, practices like WRAP, while a good idea, is not always effective - especially when confronted with quick decisions. Depending on which sphere we stand, our triggers become our coping mechanisms. And our coping mechanisms become our triggers. It is very important to understand this contradiction is healing is to be practiced as more of a science then a new age philosophy. If you just write down triggers and coping mechanisms separately, without taking note of how they connect and interact, and how they evolve as a continuum, then control is impossible.

    1. Thanks for your ideas! So much of healing (all?) has to come from episodes, quote unquote, emotional tumult of one sort or other, and to me, at least, recovery is driven by the rather desperate urge to avoid such tumult (via triggers) there's a problem. I think we agree on this.

      And the system is geared (almost solely) towards medicating people to avoid emotional pain, which is good as far as it goes, but down the line becomes more hindrance than help. Where down the line? In that nebulous but beatiful transition zone between healing and recovery.

    2. And, so you see, octupus man, that I end up closer to your position here than in my post!



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