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There's Nothing "Magical" about Societal Healing

by James O'Dea

Spontaneous remission of disease is a well-documented phenomenon in individual cases. No one has a definitive explanation why because multiple and various causes are likely. But nothing seems spontaneous when it comes to the necessary evolutionary work of releasing social pathologies or historically embedded and intergenerationally transmitted wounds. I know that wonders and miracles abound when people change their attitudes and deep-seated beliefs about themselves and their bodies. I know that consciousness has powers to spur transformation and influence a huge shift in hormones and biochemistry and can positively affect the body’s immune response and switch on positive genes. I know that affirmations, gratefulness, and forgiveness can bring swift benefits, and that sometimes it seems as if we achieve dramatic and miraculous support for our best intentions. But social healing is slow.

Now the thing is, slow has a bad rap in certain quarters, but not everything has to be lickety split. Take the slow food movement; it is much healthier than its zealous counterpart, the fast food empire. These days we also have the slow money movement, whose design is to bring health and renewal to communities. Instead of investing in Wall Street’s get-rich-quick-at-any-cost schemes, you can slow down and invest in communities where your gain will be a lot more than any fast rate of return.

Healing, even at the individual level, is more often a process of unfolding than a hallelujah moment of, “I am healed!” Healing is often discovery: fresh insights begin to emerge, new realizations surface, a new perspective reframes the picture we have created for ourselves, new feelings gestate on harmonizing breaths or become a new foundation that settles into the firm bedrock of a new life.

When we see how deeply the wounds of slavery, violence, racism, profound gender inequity, religious intolerance, and other inherited traumas and pathologies affect us, we recognize that shifting the field of collective human experience is no easy matter. We have begun to understand the protracted wounding of a genocide – how it stretches across generations and how there is a certain reinforcement of the scarring and wounding in socio-political dynamics and in dominant social narratives. We are beginning to see that post-traumatic stress disorders are much more extensive than are normally reported when soldiers return from brutal assignments; their unresolved wounds are carried deep into the social body.

Yet we know that our collective wounds can be addressed and that societies can make progress in healing the most virulent wounds of the past. Social healing tools involve learning about the role and practice of deep dialogue; learning from the basic insights of mind/body health and healing; drawing from contemporary insights into the nature of consciousness and human capacities; testing new approaches to collective trauma recovery; practicing modalities of listening including compassionate and integral listening; promoting forgiveness and atonement; learning about different cultural approaches to restorative justice; exploring the process of truth-telling and mutual acknowledgment; and exploring the interface of personal narrative and historical narrative where subjective experience is empathically honored. None of these approaches is particularly fast-track.

I have seen former combatants share meals and offer reconciliation to each other after long years of warring, and I have seen victims of genocide engage with the perpetrators of that violence in healing the roots of animosity and hatred. This is work of unimaginable significance for humanity, requiring the ability to access reservoirs of courage and compassion. It is work on the long road of healing. The miracle is that it is able to encompass any past horror and resolve it in a way that it no longer ends up in the hearts of future generations.

Maybe, just maybe, a day will come when a wave of love will enter unhampered into the hearts of coming generations with such power that it washes away all the toxins of hatred. And not unlike the hundredth monkey who learned to wash the mud off her yams and started a revolution, whose innovative behavior entered the field of awareness for other monkeys to copy, maybe reconciling love in enough humans will tilt the whole human enterprise away from its contagiously wounded past. Until then, one healing step at a time, and then another, and another.

Global Shift, Worldview
  • Anonymous Icon

    patssav Nov 29, 2010

    I agree. There is a modality to heal Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome called LENS- Low Energy Neurofeedback System which changes the brain waves ever so slightly each session using an EEG machine and software which allows the brain to reorganize itself. Please Google "Len Ochs" and click on This has been used for 16 years and there are over 200 practioners world-wide. Research results and much more are at that site.

  • KYRANI Feb 21, 2012

    Thank you for your blog. Can healing be fast-tracked? Good question. I think that if humane people were motivated so as to overcome their fear and/or their complacency then there would be a revolution take place and it does not need to involve violence. IMO.. this is happening and gaining momentum. Humane people are a sliver away from realizing that what is marketed as disease of natural causes is really damage done by "natural causers", if we are to class the inhuman as natural at all”! The numbers of the inhumane (evil, antisocial, psychopathic) are growing and the evidence is in the spiraling out of control of diseases, such as cancer, and heart disease etc. The medical industry focuses on statistic of how many get saved eg 50-60% with cancer may be treated and live 5years or more, but they don't say that the incidence of cancer has more than doubled in last 60 yrs. That means a 100%+ rise in incidence! Eg heart disease in 1960 was near unknown in women. It was called a man's disease. Today 1/3 of women are affected and it is the number one killer of women by far of any other disease. So what is going on? This is a new form of domestic violence!
    People are motivated when they realize that their health and very life is one the line. More than 90% these days die an untimely death in a hospital bed after months or years of agony... When a person’s health can be affected by others then their wellbeing, their freedom and their children’s future and the generations to come are all adversely affected too. Right now a massacre of humane people is going on and it is unopposed due to ignorance and medical misinformation. What will happen when they realize that far from making their lives better science is betraying them in key areas for profit? I believe that it is institution such as IONS that has a very powerful place in connecting with lay people directly and raising awareness on the all-important key issue of ESP and not in double blinded trials, but in close relationship. How can a person be badly affected and for years on end by those they trust and who are not worthy of trust?
    There is an urgent need for societal healing because disease is also at the heart of social isolation, social decay, rule by hegemony and political manipulation owing to inhumane people alongside good people, often indistinguishable from decent people, in governments. We cannot go forward from here even if things stay as they are and thing are getting worse by the day. If you want to read some of my discoveries go to where I am documenting what I have discovered about disease. I have also started another blog at in which I am relating the information given to me “right out of the horse’s mouth” and I will discuss the challenges made on my life and all the insights that I have gained as to help others heal.

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