Wholing vs. Healing
Friday, September 28, 2018
This is the first part of a three-part Musing (one per week).
Healthy cultures and communities support and engender healthy human development. Healthy human development, in turn, results in healthy communities. Unhealthy cultures and communities undermine human development, resulting in widespread conditions unfortunately labeled “mental illness” — unfortunate because they are not illnesses and their “mental” dimension is not
Healthy human development, as facilitated by all aspects of healthy communities (including education, parenting, mentoring, religion/spirituality, the arts, sports, healthcare, ceremony, and festivals), is primarily a process of supporting each person to cultivate their wholeness — resources and capacities every person is born with but that must be identified and developed in order to be experienced and utilized for the benefit of self, others, and community. In unhealthy communities, the cultivation of all or most facets of wholeness are neglected if not actively suppressed, something we see everywhere in the Western world today. The result, on the individual level, is widespread depression, anxiety, addiction, isolation, trauma, disease, and suicide. On the societal level, we witness increasing violence, bullying, intolerance, oppression, gender discrimination, hoarding, gated communities, debt, poverty, poor nutrition, illiteracy, and inequality. On the political level, the outcomes are corruption, bribery, dishonesty, incompetence, deadlock, and greed. On the ecological level — pollution, deforestation, climate disruption, species extinctions, and habitat loss, and on the world stage, nationalism, war, genocide, refugee crises, overpopulation, human trafficking, and more war.
Obstructed human development — the neglect and suppression of our innate human wholeness — is the root cause of all individual, community, cultural, political, and ecological crises. Conversely, healthy human development is the central and essential dimension of all long-term solutions and cultural regeneration.
currently emerging in the Western world is that healthy human development is much more than and fundamentally distinct from “healing.” Psychological healing is generally understood as the reduction or elimination of emotional or behavioral symptoms, syndromes, or “mental illnesses,” which is what Western psychotherapy, psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and the “mental health industrial complex” have focused on for the past 125 years. The best that healing can achieve is a return to the absence of dis-ease. While such an outcome is most always better than nothing and sometimes the most that can be accomplished, there is a much better way forward: the cultivation of our innate human wholeness, the development of our capacities for creative and proactive action.
One of the capacities made possible with “wholing” is the ability to
-heal, and self-healing is more effective and longer lasting than being healed by someone else (as in psychotherapy or “mental health” counseling).
But wholing extends our capacities well beyond the realm of self-healing. For example, wholing enables and empowers people to contribute to
healing, regeneration, and renaissance, turning psychologically disabled, disturbed, or distracted people into artisans of cultural transformation.