What the heck is “inner healing intelligence?”

A doctor’s translation of a psychedelic phenomenon

by Dr. Hillary Lin, M.D.

In psychedelic health work, you often hear about the inner healing intelligence. Psychedelics help us bring down our defenses and learned habits so that this healing intelligence can do its work.

I was extremely confused about this for some time. The phrase, “inner healing intelligence” makes it seem like there is a little therapist living within us resolving all the emotional hurts we experience day to day. I am admittedly a materialist and initially dismissed this thought as kinda fantastical.

But then I found an analogy that made the phrase make sense.

When you break your arm, you need to set the broken bones properly, put it in a cast and sling, and give it a break for a few weeks. If you don’t set it first, it may heal in a malformed shape. If you don’t rest it, you may delay or prevent proper healing. So you do need to do external actions, even get help from a doctor (highly recommended), in order to heal the broken bones.

But your “inner healing” happens without your conscious thought. It’s what happens when a clot forms to create an interim structure for your new bone to grow upon. It is what happens when immune cells come along to take away the damaged cells and set the stage for the new cells. Finally, the bone builder cells, or osteoclasts, restore bone shape and structure in a remodeling process not unlike tiny construction workers updating your old fashioned kitchen.

Actually how broken bones heal. Bahney, C. S., Zondervan, R. L., Allison, P., Theologis, A., Ashley, J. W., Ahn, J., Miclau, T., Marcucio, R. S., & Hankenson, K. D. (2019). Cellular biology of fracture healing. Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society, 37(1), 35–50. https://doi.org/10.1002/jor.24170

These processes are incredibly complicated, yet we human beings have evolved such that they happen all on their own. You don’t need a doctor to tell each and every platelet to start degranulating. You don’t need to consciously direct osteoclasts to remodel your bone like you would your kitchen. These incredible abilities have evolved through generations upon generations of biological, natural iteration.

The same thing happens with emotional healing. When we suffer an emotional trauma, whether it is a mild slight or a severe, life-altering event, our body’s natural instinct is to protect, and then heal. The issue, for most of us, is that we live in an environment which is not set up for optimal healing. There are not enough emotional doctors out there to place casts for the millions of emotional traumas we experience.

So we figure out how to cope on our own.

This results in our relying on our friends, parents, co-workers, lovers, and leaders to learn ways to self-treat our emotional injuries. This means most of the time we are learning from others who have never properly trained up in emotional skills. We are the blind leaning upon the blind. We thus heal improperly, creating scars which we name features of our personalities. We accept that our anxiety and despair are a part of us, because no one has ever shown us there’s a different way.

But what if we were to clear the path for our inner healing intelligence to do its proper work?

That is where psychedelics come in. They are a transformative medicine that clears the way for you to either self-heal or allow helpers (friends, family, coaches, therapists, and other non-judgmental supporters) to guide you towards healing and growth.

Psychedelics clear those ruminative thoughts telling you that nothing you try will ever work, or that you are not enough. They help you see things differently, and open your mind to possibility. They make connections which were not obvious before. They allow your inner healing intelligence to take the reins and start remodeling that emotional kitchen with the eye of a trained interior designer.

But psychedelics and your inner healing intelligence need support. Just like your broken arm needs a doctor to put a cast and sling in place, your emotional wounds need external support. This takes place in integration. You can do this with the help of a trained guide, coach, or therapist. You can do this with like-minded friends who hold non-judgmental space. You can even, once you have learned the skills, integrate and process on your own with training and practice.

So inner healing intelligence really is a thing, and not so fantastical as I originally thought. We just need to nurture it to help us grow to become the fulfilled and self-actualized humans we all have the potential to be.

Photo by Greg Rakozy


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