Care and Cure – same same, but different!

by Anne Malatt, Ophthalmologist, Australia

What is the difference between care and cure?

Both words originally came from the same word – isn’t that curious?

The Latin noun ‘cura’, meaning ‘care’, became the verb ‘curare’, meaning ‘take care of’ and then the Old French ‘curer’, meaning ‘cure’.

The original sense of the word was ‘care, concern, responsibility’, particularly in a spiritual sense, but in late Middle English the meanings ‘medical care’ and ‘successful medical treatment’ arose, and hence ‘remedy’.

Interestingly, curare is also a type of poison, as are many medical treatments, when not used according to directions (and sometimes even when they are!).

Modern medicines are powerful, and sometimes a helpful treatment can become a harmful poison, especially if the dose is too high. Paracetamol is a great painkiller, but it can also kill liver cells, if taken in excess. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, but they can kill healthy cells as well, hence their side effects.

So how has the meaning of the words ‘care’ and ‘cure’ changed, and why?

In ancient times, medicine offered true care. We knew that connection with people mattered, that what we ate affected us, and that there was a true and simple way to live. Illness and disease were seen as a reflection of the way we were living, and an opportunity to make true change.

As we became more scientific, and developed herbs, pills and potions, and skills and techniques – like anaesthetics and surgery – we became taken with the idea that we could fix ailments, cut lumps out, have power over life and death, and generally play God. With this seems to have come the notion that we could fix illness and disease, and then go back to the same way of living that made us ill in the first place.

And herein lies the irresponsibility.

Now, we see illness and disease as a nuisance, an inconvenience, to be fixed, gotten rid of, cured, so we can get back to doing what we were doing before. And more and more we have come to place the responsibility for this onto our doctors and healers, and less and less onto ourselves and our way of life.

Our physicians have also become more irresponsible, choosing to focus on the cure, the quick fix, rather than taking care of the way they live, and then reflecting that living way to us, inspiring us to learn to live it to.

So, what do we mean when we say we care?

And what happens to us when we try to care?

Most of us say that we care about our friends, family, jobs, cars, possessions, and ourselves. But we have come to associate ‘care’ with trying, being careful, being cautious even. This is not true care. We ‘care’ too much to hurt people’s feelings, to be honest with them, to tell them the truth. And we ‘care’ about ourselves too much to say it as it is, to deal with people’s reactions, to not be liked, to get it ‘wrong’, to say and do what is needed, rather than what people want to hear.

What happens to our bodies when we are ‘careful’ in a way that is not true? We tend to tense up, contract, and hold our muscles hard. We tend to go into our heads, worrying about what we should do, what we should say, how we should be. And while we are busy in our heads, we are not at ease in our bodies.

What happens when we are not at ease? Our muscles are tense, our movements are not fluid and flowing, our minds are elsewhere, and in this state, accidents, incidents and injuries are more likely to happen.

So is it possible that true care is not what we think it is?

Could true care be developing a relationship with our bodies?

Could true care be as simple as feeling yourself in your body – from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and the ends of your toes, and being aware of your whole body as you move, in everything that you do?

Could true care be a willingness to feel what is there to be felt, and to honour our feelings, to be aware of what is truly going on within and around us?

Could true care be a commitment to making our every move – our every thought, word and action – loving and caring, for ourselves and for others?

And what do we mean by ‘cure’?

The word ‘cure’ has come to mean:

  • To relieve of the symptoms of a disease or condition
  • To eliminate a disease or condition with medical treatment
  • To solve a problem

But ‘cure’ can also apply to meat and skins, whereby we render them ‘fixed’ in such a way that we preserve them, so they do not rot, and can be used for longer. They may last longer, but this process takes the life out of them. We can apply this to the trajectory of our lives.

We live life in cycles. These can be short and sweet (or not) or long but drawn out and flat, or long and round, rich and full, depending on the quality we bring to them, the quality of our living way.

Looking to fix and cure may prolong our lives, but it does not necessarily enhance the quality of them. But bringing that quality brings a depth and richness to life, no matter how long and short it is, and even if we are confronted with illness and disease.

Do we want a life of richness, of quality, irrespective of the length of it, or do we want to prolong life at all costs?

That is the dilemma we are faced with in modern medicine today – we have the ability to ‘cure’ all sorts of ills, but with what quality are people living, and what is the level of care with which we are delivering these services?

To care or to cure – can we reunite the two and deliver true health care once again?

 

Read more:

  1. Self-care myths
  2. Sacred esoteric healing – true health care

 

 

 

 

659 thoughts on “Care and Cure – same same, but different!

  1. So perhaps it would be fair to say that we placed ‘cure’ over ‘care’ the moment we started to seek outward for healing and put all our attention on finding that ‘perfect pill’ that will ‘cure us of all our symptoms’ without considering that the way we live and the choices we make also have an impact on our body and its vitality. In order to reunite both care and cure, we first need to take and honest look at the way we are living and take responsibility for it.

  2. My feeling is that not that long ago there was a general expectation to be well and healthy and when we were not perhaps we even suspected that our choices had led to the illness, but these days we have acclimatised ourselves to living with multiple illnesses and we have lost touch with what being well and healthy is. We certainly don’t take responsibility for how we became unwell and instead we just want a magic pill to fix us.

  3. There is an obvious opportunity here to embrace the responsibility we have to take care of ourselves and to see beyond function to the potential to live a life that is full, vital, engaged and in relationship with the big picture that we are all a part of. I really like the bit about the physicians’ responsibility too and would add that I often spot situations where health care practitioner’s actually ‘relieve’ patients of their responsibility – this I feel is part of their identification with needing to ‘fix’ and make things ‘better’ – which contributes to the narrower view of providing quick solutions with no call to change the patterns/behaviours that lead to illness.

  4. “And we ‘care’ about ourselves too much to say it as it is, to deal with people’s reactions, to not be liked, to get it ‘wrong’, to say and do what is needed, rather than what people want to hear.” – This sentence entails a great learning that I have only recently embraced, as I noticed how growing up with parents that constantly were arguing in a very emotional and dramatic way had affected me in the sense that I avoided conflicts at all costs as a teenager and an adult. In this, I also avoided standing up for the truth that I felt in my heart if it would ruffle any feathers and cause someone to not like me.

  5. “Could true care be a commitment to making our every move – our every thought, word and action – loving and caring, for ourselves and for others?” A very interesting discussion here Anne on the meaning of true care. It really highlights how if we don’t take true care of ourselves, how can we truly take care of another?

  6. Sometimes it can be more caring to not give someone something that they want, than to give them that which you know will stall their evolution. A lot of time when we seek the care of others, we are not seeking true care at all but simply to be indulged in the very thing that is holding us back. This is where the poison of sympathy enters the equation as opposed to a deep understanding of where the person is at and what will best support them.

  7. I really like the focus you’ve brought to both care and cure. It’s made me consider what I care about. Do I say something that is there to be said to support someone but I know they’ll probably not like it or do I care more about avoiding people’s reactions? I’m learning to listen to what’s needed from a feeling and not a mental exercise, and support myself to do so – this may include getting support to not be affected by another’s reaction.

  8. There is a lot to contemplate in this as it exposes modern life and the way we currently think. We are living in a way where we override the simplicity of life and in this we complicate or live a very hectic life and don’t want to connect to a different rhythm, one that allows a greater flow. So in this we look for the ‘cure’ to keep us going on this same track, instead of taking the pit stop and re-evaluating everything.

  9. With the advent of modern medicine cure has turned into manage, so managing a disease or a condition. Care has become something that is functional and is based around the tasks we perform for another. As you say Anne there is so much more to both words especially considering their same origins.

  10. We do tend to look for a quick fix when we get sick so that we can go back to our ways before we got sick but maybe the body does not want to return to the old ways. Looking at our lives before we got sick would be a useful exercise to see what had contributed towards the illness in the first place – after all, sickness does not just happen, there is always a root cause.

  11. We often look for a ‘quick fix’ or a ‘cure’ when we want to avoid taking care of ourselves and/or responsibility for ourselves. But taking great care of ourselves is the greatest gift we can ever give ourselves.

    1. Yes and when we do take true care, we start to resource the rich learning that life offers. When we do the quick fix and solution way, we are constantly glossing over the opportunities that are always there to deepen our understanding of ourselves and life.

  12. Some great questions on true care Anne, it makes sense that it is how we nurture and care for our body and build a loving relationship with ourselves that establishes a true foundation and quality of living.

  13. The understanding and the experience of quality in life is a paradigm shift that is essential for us all to know and experience… Otherwise life on earth will be unsustainable.

    1. That unsustainability you speak of Chris is fast approaching, if not already here. We are spending much more money that we realise on healthcare and that is definitely unsustainable.

  14. I would say that you are right about true care being in one’s body, because when I lose myself in my head I am more and more harming myself as displayed by bruises or cuts where I have banged into something.

  15. A great reminder Anne of how we now live in a society that expects to be fixed and are reluctant to take any form of responsibility for the illnesses we face, what if we understood that true care means more about how we live, adding on an extra layer when it’s cold, going to bed early to support the body, changing the way we eat, all these things bring a greater quality to our life.

  16. In the word ‘care’ I feel a commitment to having a relationship, and ‘cure’ somehow feels to be a solution that is more immediate. It’s very interesting how one thing got fragmented and ended up having two words to describe each element, and because now there are two separate words, we are missing out the potency of what that original one had to offer.

  17. It is true that we have developed a way of life that causes injury, lack of wellbeing and illness and disease for which we then turn to our governments and medical carers to fix. And the medical system is now so focussed on curing the symptoms that very few are asking the right questions any more, questions about our lifestyle choices and our quality of movement.

    1. It is like we have all chosen the same blinkers, a limited view on life that gives us permission to stay in a comfy narrow existence. This is not it and if we are prepared to glance up and out we will get glimpses of a life so rich, full and inspiring and this is a life that we can choose to be part of.

  18. It makes sense we want instant relief from symptoms of our illness and disease. However we don’t often want to take responsibility and look at our quality of living that has contributed to it.

  19. Wanting life to return to the way it was before the illness or disease is a very powerful force that I can see is prevalent in societies everywhere, where in fact much of the medical world that is available is trying its hardest to meet the needs of a population where the majority want to seek relief and not true healing.

  20. “Could true care be a willingness to feel what is there to be felt, and to honour our feelings, to be aware of what is truly going on within and around us?” This is a great question and I would say that the answer is a clear YES. To truly care we have to care for the All, which includes ourselves.

  21. ‘What happens when we are not at ease? ‘ today I was contemplating the expression ‘take it easy’ meaning to put your feet up, relax etc. but realised just how this can be applied to any situation. For example we can still be working in a pressured environment and be taking it easy in how we treat ourselves and the fact that we have everything that we need to deal with any situation and it is only when we choose it to be so that it becomes a challenge or a struggle.

  22. To take deep care is something that is deeply lacking in society at the moment, the question of what then happens next is interesting, for me I felt a deep healing of many things in my life that I have been hurt by. Had i chosen the cure I would have chosen not to deal with what was really behind how I felt.

  23. It is interesting in the current times and what it means to take care of ourselves is so far from what it used to mean. Even twenty years ago there seemed to be a stronger understanding that we had to take care of ourselves. Today it seems like it doesn’t matter and you can get drugs or go to the doctors and they will sort you out. Being accountable for our own health is an essential step in society for the rates of illness and disease to start to change.

  24. I agree Anne, it is the quality of how we live that brings a true depth and richness to life when we align with our body’s natural rhythm and allow our inner knowing to lead the way.

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