Curing vs. Healing

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Curing vs. Healing

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Practitioners of health-centered dentistry understand the important distinction between “health” and “sickness”, and consequently the difference between “healing” and “curing”.

Today, lets explore these critically important concepts:

HEALTH: A personally defined state of being which is always capable of refinement. HEALTH IS ABOUT ONE’S ATTITUDE TOWARD ONE’S PHYSICAL CONDITION, and is relatively unattached to our physiology at the moment.

“Attitude is everything”

Health is therefore NOT simply the absence of disease, it is more about the commitment to grow and reach our full potential under the circumstances and even in the presence of disease. Health is an ongoing process driven by an attitude of self-preservation and improvement and how this affects both ourself and those around us.

SICKNESS is the opposite, it is absence of health. It is also attitudinal in the sense that it is about the meaning of the disease state to us at the moment.

“My family has bad teeth”

Sickness is a subtractive condition of life in which personal potential for growth toward greater health is being blocked by one’s attitude toward the problem. It is therefore not growth-oriented, it is not refinement-oriented, and it represents a position of surrender which requires the search for someone to rescue us from the crisis.

CURING: The maximal restoration of biological norms – “Restoration”. Curing does not require the active participation of the person who is sick, hence it can often be a form of rescuing.

HEALING: An internalized process which can be prompted and facilitated by others. Regardless, it ALWAYS requires the affected person’s active participation. By definition, it is therefore NOT rescuing and it is growth-oriented.

Masterful health-centered practitioners minimize curing* and maximize healing. And by so doing, they enhance health and avoid the perpetuation of sickness.

I recently heard a prominent speaker and proponent of practice involvement with dental insurance state that quality to him represents restorations which are “functional”, “well-sealed”, and “look pretty-good”.

Do you think his practice is focused on “healing” or “curing”? Does his practice primarily promote moving patients toward higher levels of health, or toward a minimally acceptable level of repair as fast as possible?

*It is important to emphasize that H-C doctors do not necessarily refuse to “cure”, rather they try to strategically use a crisis as a “learning moment” which can potentially be leveraged to create more engagement, ownership, growth, and movement toward health.

Paul A. Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017


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