Presented like this, this sounds like a ridiculous question. Aren’t ‘cure’ and ‘healing’, synonyms? One author at, least, thinks not, and for important reasons. There are significant differences between these terms.
‘Cure’ is seen as symptomatic of western culture. It is associated with immediacy.
‘Healing’ is different, in that it is concerned with the whole person. It may involve a difficult personal journey in which pain and suffering must be faced and addressed,—and answers found.
This is true, even if present coping devices have to be abandoned and restructured, perhaps several times over.
Thus, ‘healing’ is a much deeper, and character-building process; being ‘zapped’ and ‘cured’ could masquerade as healing, but in fact be an avoidance of deeper issues to be faced.
A concern for a ‘cure’ (to the exclusion of all else) is thereby a reflection of character. It is the small child, or the teenager, who want immediacy. Or even politicians. As when Gordon Brown suggested more consumerism, as a solution to problems caused by comsumerism.
One thing seems certain in western societies—and that is that suffering is not viewed as a constructive part of character-building and maturity. Yet suffering can, hard as it sounds, lead to opportunities for creativity and newness.
In varying degrees, we all experience suffering and loss. It is how this suffering is interpreted and built into our experience that is crucial. For some this suffering leads to despair, and the destruction of the person, anger and fury.
Although it might take years, for others it leads to restoration, love and forgiveness.
As Scott Peck points out, it often the person who is suffering who helps a whole group to find community, not the polite and formal person, attuned to ‘appropriate’ responses.
One place where pain is expressed in ancient literature is the Psalms. These songs often move through a distinct pattern of what one theologian refers to as ‘orientation-disorientation-reorientation’.
This mirrors contemporary western experience. People need stability for society, and themselves, to function. Life needs to be mostly predictable: ‘orientated’ towards social norms. But in times of suffering, total disorientation can enter in. A person (or society) may fall apart completely. Rage and despair take over.
But time and again, the ancient Psalmists find a new orientation, where despair is replaced by hope, and newness, and praise. Though they ‘pass through the valley of the shadow of death … [yet] … surely goodness and mercy shall follow me …’ (Psalm 23).
This, then, is the difference. ‘Cure’ is immediate. There is little by way of impact on the whole person.
‘Healing’ involves a journey out of infantilisation and narcissism, into maturity and is now replaced by attempting to face life’s most painful problems, a painful experience in itself. The answers found may be pro tem; but this is better than staying an infant.
Healing is a journey, a frequently painful one, but this is infinitely to be preferred to short-term fixes that are likely to do no more than entrench attitudes that never move on.
What is sadder than the fifty or sixty-something, who lives in the past, and whose creativity is thus diminished, and ever more so with the passing of the years?