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Edgar Cayce Health Database

Some Thoughts on Health and Healing

[Although the following article written by David McMillin does not mention Edgar Cayce, the concepts certainly parallel those found in Cayce's psychic readings. It was written for a newsletter distributed by a mental health program. Although it was intended primarily for persons suffering from major mental illness and the health care professionals who provide service to them, the ideas and concepts apply to the subject of health and healing with regard to a wide range of serious and persistent illnesses.]

Health is so important and yet we often take it for granted. Most often, we can only become aware of health when we lose it. Then we focus so much energy and resources on disease that we fail to appreciate the mystery and wonder of healing.

We even find it difficult to define what health is, beyond saying that it is the absence of disease. Fortunately, with our growing awareness of the health care crisis, health care providers and consumers are seeking to understand and communicate alternative perspectives on these issues. There is an increasing emphasis on health maintenance (wellness) and prevention. Even with chronic, degenerative illnesses there is a greater appreciation of the quality of life aspects of healing. This article will tap into the current medical literature with the objective of increasing our understanding and appreciation of health and healing.

Andrew Weil, M.D. has contributed greatly to our understanding of health and healing. Dr. Weil reminds us that the root meaning of health is "wholeness." He notes that wholeness has two properties: completeness and balance. In an ideal whole, the components are not only all there, they are in an arrangement of "harmonious integration and balance." Weil uses the phrase "dynamic equilibrium" to describe the essence of health. But he goes on to remind us of a primary characteristic of health - it is temporary. "Our working definition of health - a dynamic and harmonious equilibrium of all the elements and forces making up and surrounding a human being - leaves out one crucial word: 'temporary.'"

In other words, all the various ingredients that make up the whole of our lives can easily get out of balance. This applies to the biological systems of our bodies as well as the psychological and interpersonal aspects of our individual and collective selves. At a physical level, the acid/alkaline balance of our blood can become out of balance and make us susceptible to viruses and bacteria. The chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in our brains can become out of balance and cause mental or emotional illness. Sometimes we suffer from a "sick lifestyle." We can work too much or play too much. We can get out of balance in our relationships. Sometimes being out of balance is so extreme that we are missing out entirely on an important part of life.

We are constantly shifting from a state of balance and completeness to imbalance and incompleteness. This is a dance of health and illness. In recognition of this dynamic quality of health, Dr. Weil concludes that perfect health is not attainable in any lasting sense. Health is temporary. It is relative, not absolute. "Perfect health" is an illusion.

To help people get in touch with the dynamics of health, Dr. Weil suggests an exercise whereby you keep a journal of your own state of physical health. Each day write down little (or big) physical complaints or problems. He says that it is difficult to get through a single day without a loss of physical health. Most of the time we simply ignore what is going on in our bodies. We can usually afford this luxury because the body has its own healing system that regulates vital processes and helps to keep us relatively whole and balanced.

For example, we all have "cancer" cells in our bodies all the time. Usually the immune system is able to suppress the cancer cells and help the body to maintain a state of health. When the immune system cannot fulfill this role, we experience the illness of cancer.

Thus, for some of us, at various points in our lives, the body's natural healing potential is not adequate to constantly bring us back into balance and wholeness. Outside help is required to help us regain our health. We commonly refer to such interventions as "treatment" or "therapy."

However, it is easy to become confused about the meaning of treatment and believe that treatment equals healing. This is a misconception. The healing comes from within. At best, treatment can only assist the inner process of healing.

Elliot Dacher, M.D., is careful to point out the distinction between treatment and healing. He says that treatment involves external manipulation; it is often used in crisis; it tends to be mechanistic and symptom orientated; is administered by a professional authority; and its goal is the absence of signs or symptoms of disease. On the other hand, healing involves self-regulation (remember the body's own innate healing system), tends to be long term and continuous, is holistic and system-oriented, requires self-responsibility, and its goal is experiencing health, which is wholeness.

This is not to say that treatment is wrong or bad. Most of us need treatment or therapy from time to time to help us re-establish balance and wholeness in our lives. Treatment is only a problem when we misunderstand it and confuse it with healing. between healing and curing. Wayne Jonas, M.D., has recognized four forms of healing:

  1. CURE - elimination of disease.
  2. CARE - better management of the magnitude or consequences of the disease.
  3. EMPOWERMENT - better understanding of the meaning of the experience of illness and skills for coping with it.
  4. ENLIGHTENMENT - a realization of the value and purpose of life as it is.

If we believe that cure is the only form that healing can take, we will probably fail to appreciate the healing that can take place in chronic or terminal illness. For example, people with AIDS or other incurable diseases sometimes experience significant healing in terms of care, empowerment and enlightenment. Symptoms (such as pain) can usually be relieved or suppressed. Personal relationships are sometimes healed (brought into balance and completeness). The patient may even achieve enlightenment by being able to realize the preciousness of life one moment at a time. Sometimes persons with terminal illness have a mystical experience of oneness with the universe, God (by whatever name), or some transcendent reality. This experience may not significantly alter the physical reality of the illness, but at some level of consciousness there is a shift toward integration and connectedness, which is the essence of health.

Persons suffering from major mental illness may also experience various aspects of healing. Severe and persistent mental illness is usually viewed as incurable. Yet, through medication management and psychosocial rehabilitation, significant healing may be gained in the form of care (symptom management). Empowerment is also a realistic form of healing, as there is growth in the ability to make choices, take responsibility for actions, and participate is basic community activities involving work, love and play. While enlightenment is less common, many people do achieve this level of healing. Enlightenment may be experienced as a heightened awareness of the meaning and purpose of life as it is - even if life offers major challenges in the form of an incurable illness.

Undoubtedly, there are many other aspects to health and healing. I hope the ideas which I have just shared will help you better appreciate your own health and the various ways that you are constantly being healed.


  1. Health is more than the absence of disease - health is wholeness.
  2. Health is temporary - we are constantly shifting from states of wholeness and balance to imbalance and incompleteness. This is natural; it is the human condition.
  3. Just as health is not an all or nothing condition, neither is healing a once and for all process. We all experience varying degrees of health and healing on a daily basis.
  4. Everyone needs healing. We only differ in the kind and degree of our imbalances and incompleteness.
  5. Treatment is not necessarily healing. Treatment is an external intervention. Healing is a response that comes from within.
  6. Cure is only one form that healing may take. Care, empowerment and enlightenment are meaningful ways of becoming more whole.
  7. An awareness of the dynamics of health will help us to more fully enjoy our health and appreciate healing in all its forms.

Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. Please consult a qualified health care professional for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health Database.