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Scenario: A healer is facing an enemy and can only use magic.

I want the healer to oppose this enemy by using his magic, so that the continuous healing would kill the target, like he has too many cells, or grows tumors or something. Is it possible?

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    $\begingroup$ If it is a zombie it can kill it... oh wait. $\endgroup$ – Goufalite Aug 16 '17 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ Auchenai Soulpriest comes into mind. $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Aug 16 '17 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ Please explain how your healing works $\endgroup$ – Vylix Aug 16 '17 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Aify a dozen! I got my Inheritance Cycle facts wrong!? MUST. RE-READ. $\endgroup$ – Aric Aug 16 '17 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ Your question is currently in danger of being closed as too broad, I'd recommend adding more detail about the kinds of healing magic available in your world. $\endgroup$ – adaliabooks Aug 16 '17 at 10:06

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Given the information in this question and its accepted answer, it seems clear that the natural healing process of a human being (or of any other creature) can itself be a deadly weapon if supplied with magical acceleration.

If the body is healing an injury, it requires the ability to supply the necessary energy, materials, etc., needed to physically perform the repairs. If you use healing magic to accelerate that process naively (without accounting for these secondary problems), the body will begin to steal from itself in an attempt to keep up. It's probably going to lose that contest, however; step up the healing rate to a thousand times the normal (which is still short of what would be necessary to get near-instant regeneration, incidentally), and it's a safe assumption that the body cannot increase blood flow by a thousand times, meaning that the tissues around the injury will almost instantly be deprived of oxygen and nutrients.

Give that a little time (a few minutes, probably, before you get gangrene or cell death), and the only result of the healing process is that the damage has actually expanded. You've also weakened the opponent in the meanwhile by drawing off a large part of their bodily reserves for this healing. The accelerated healing will then start up for this new damage, and... well, you can see how this will result in a vicious spiral that can only get worse as long as the healing magic is kept up. The exact cause of death may vary, but my bet is on oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) as the body steals so much oxygen from the bloodstream that it can no longer fuel essential organs or tissues.

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Killing an enemy with a tumor is not effective on a battlefield. If you want to kill somebody, you want him dead now, not in 20 years from now. Set this aside, assuming that your "healing spell" is not a generic one, but really addresses some inner body functions, it is doable.

I.e. a certain spell can increase the adrenaline production. In some cases this is beneficial for the body. Do it out of context or too much and you will give a nice heart attack to your target.

Same goes with insulin.

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It depends of course on the nature of the healing magic and how fast it's working. I'll assume the magic is more or less equivalent to modern day medicine and that it can be used without the prerequisite of an existing condition to cure.

The three things I'd try:

  • A spell used to staunch blood flow also be used on a non-bleeding target causing massive blood clots.

  • Magic to increase Insulin production for diabetics. Will put victim in a coma and eventually kill them.

  • Spells used to anesthetize. These are basically sleep spells designed so that the patient does not react to damage and wake up. They must work fairly quickly and once incapacitated the victim will be an easy target for any other attack, magic or otherwise.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please provide an answer that does not require clarification from the OP. OP has not yet revealed how the healing works, and your answer does not provide how to kill the enemy after all. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Aug 16 '17 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Vylix Ok, rephrased. $\endgroup$ – Doomfrost Aug 16 '17 at 8:50
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If part of the healing magic involved stimulating the immune system of a patient, then the Healer could focus on stimulating their enemy's immune system to such an extent this would look like an allergic attack turning into a full anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.[4][5] It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours.1

Common causes include insect bites and stings, foods, and medications. Other causes include latex exposure and exercise. Additionally cases may occur without an obvious reason.1 The mechanism involves the release of mediators from certain types of white blood cells triggered by either immunologic or non-immunologic mechanisms.[6] Diagnosis is based on the presenting symptoms and signs after exposure to a potential allergen.

Magically induced anaphylaxis could be caused by if the healing process can be manipulated to make the enemy's immune system overreact. This the most probable way healing magic can be used as a lethal technique.

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Cancer

Cancer is the runaway reproduction and growth of cells, unbound by normal constraints (i.e. stop it you jerk, we're all in this together). In a vague general sort of way it's caused by cells deciding that the environment they're living in isn't conducive to cooperation and it reverts to winner take all (that is, I'm in this for me and my daughter cells). All the instructions for being a single-celled form of life is still in our DNA, it's just turned off so that cells specialize in order to cooperate together. Turn them back on again through some trigger and you get cancer.

Magical healing could potentially be viewed as a rapid increase in typical cellular life-cycle. And if the conditions are no longer viewed as mutually beneficial by the individual cells (i.e. the prisoner's dilemma equation starts looking better and better if the cell Defects rather than Cooperates) then they could be spurred towards being cancerous instead.

And cancer would just eat that healing magic right up. Yes please make me a healthier cell!

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  • $\begingroup$ You do realize that while killing him with cancer on the battlefield, you will be dead a few years before your opponent is? $\endgroup$ – user26494 Aug 16 '17 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ Use the power like an assassin. Every competent enemy leader gets virulent cancers, leave the incompetent ones alone, and within 5 years you should be able to beat them militarily. $\endgroup$ – chiggsy Jul 26 '18 at 2:00
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It depends on how you want your magic to work.
Also depending on your setting there will be differences, for example a medieval world will have other methods than a modern or post-apocalyptic one.

There are quite a few possible methods.
Please note, that I answer the question to killing with healing magic but I do not activly adopt the approach with tumors and cell regeneration.

Below are the ones I think are the easiest to apply in any setting.

Technique for preventing blood loss

If there is a method to block the blood flow.
Apply that to a vital region like the lungs or the heart and the result might be deadly.

Sugical techniques

See ArnoldF's answer.

Techniques for detoxication

There might be methods to help someone from poision, including emptying the gastro-intestinal tract, which might lead to server pain and organ failure. This can at least immobilize someone for a time.

Magic for healing bones

Sometimes you have to rebreak a bone to mend it right.
So your magic could have a method for this. Apply this magic to the spine of skull and the result can be fatal.

Others

There are a lot of other possible techniques including something like regrowing stuff or generating blood to let vessels explode, even some kind of magic painkiller that works similar to modern ones.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding SeaS! Interesting first answer. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Aug 16 '17 at 12:01
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Not only a healer could do that. A healer specialising in dental spells would kill people with ease.

You cast two spells - one for deciduous teeth and a second one for jaw soft tissue to regenerate in a very fast manner. Or for salivary glands to instantly produce a lot of saliva. Your enemy is now suffocating.

Second approach. You speed up the liver's healing process. The liver regrows so fast that it's painful to move and all intestines, literally, are bursting out.

Third approach. You speed up the work of the kidneys or the stomach. Your enemy is now dehydrated, but also his bladder is full and he really needs to go to the loo.

And at last, cardio spells. You're a healer Leonard, goddamit! Cast a higher pressure spell on his heart and tightening vessels spell on, let's say, the legs. You can the play to make him faint or to create an infarct. Or just a plain old heart attack if you can stack high pressure/low pressure spells for 10 seconds.

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Well it is magic. You can make it to behave what ever way you want.

Having an antidote healing spell at hand? Let it be poisonous if not actually poisoned.

Want to make the healing create tumors if healed too much?

Well, describe as your healing magic to behave like this.

Want your magic healing to summon a lot of nanobots rebuilding target cells?

Just let your magic behave that way.

Want to let healing deal damage instead? let your magician summon hearthstones Auchenai Soulpriest!

Its simply magic, you can't search for a real world confirmation without specific scope. If you ask "can magic do ....?" The answer simply is "Sure it can, its magic!"

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Surgical techniques are dangerous.

Any magical healer worth their salt would have a need to excise tumors, sap poison from blood, or mend broken bones. One could imagine any of these spells backfiring or being deliberately applied (by a skilled caster) in such a way that much more than a tumor is taken away, or all of the target's blood is drained, or bones are regrown to the point where the target can no longer move.

As an example, in the anime Naruto, Kabuto Yakushi's fighting style is based around his unusual offensive application of the "Chakra Scalpel" technique. He uses this spell ("jutsu" in the show's parlance) in close quarters combat to add a precise lethality to his blows.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding ArnoldF! Interesting first answer. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Aug 16 '17 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Secespitus! I just took the tour. I'm on a couple other SE sites; I assume this one is similar :) $\endgroup$ – ArnoldF Aug 16 '17 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ Similar, but we have quite some differences. Many people have problems when they are formulating questions as WorldBuilding tends to be a rather broad and opinion-based topic. That's why I always try to recommend the tour and help center to users with their first post on the site. Being on-topic tends to be harder here for many people than on other sites. Anyway, looking forward to your contributions! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Aug 16 '17 at 10:19
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I can see quite a lot of opportunities. Most of them depend on the assumption that you, as a dedicated Healer, have access to not only generic healing spells that cure minor ailments, but also a wide arsenal of specialized healing spells that address specific body functions and problems, and that these spells actually require you to judge if they're the right tool for the job, and that they will work regardless of the current state of the target.

For instance, you could cause a target to overdose on a certain hormone, such as adrenaline. In that specific case you'd have to be careful to actually make them overdose, as giving them not enough to die might potentially turn them even more powerful. It's quite easy to give "more than safe" amounts, though.

Depending on the biological knowledge behind these spells, you might have access to a defibrillation spell that induces a strong (relative, that is, strong when introduced to nerves) electric current which can be very dangerous when the target is not actually suffering arrythmia. Alternatively, depending on the level of control that you have over the magic, you might be able to induce a current in other nerves, potentially paralyzing your target.

And you might have access to a cauterize spell to sear open wounds -- which can also be just as dangerous when used on healthy skin. You could turn the target's immune system against it by activating responses out-of-context. You could administer narcotics and render them unconscious. The list goes on and on.

However, if you don't have fine control over the magic, your actions are rather limited. If you only have access to spells that cure specific (or generic) ailments, the most obvious solution could be to use healing spells in a far greater scale than they were designed for, potentially causing many of the effects I just listed. Doing so might cause the body to deprive itself of resources, which probably causes a brief surge in power (during which you might want to run away) but causes death by exhaustion shortly after.

All of these things, however, might take a lot of time (which you might not have) and probably drain a lot of energy on your part (which might be better spent on healing allies).

All in all, if you are a healer and your allies are all dead (on the assumption that you actually have allies and that you didn't go solo as healer), the best recourse might be to run.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding latias! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Aug 16 '17 at 12:16
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Yes, there are many ways in which a "healing effect" could be used to kill the target. It's the way in which your healing effect works which would be key. So if the effect can be directed this would help.

Auto-Immune diseases
If the healing effect could be linked to making the immune system better you could get it becoming over active this can lead to conditions like MS which could be used in an accelerated fashion to kill, this might be a bit slow.

Cancer like
Another option is if you can accelerate the actually process of splitting the cells within the body. Then you could have various forms of cancer in this way, just heal the body till it creates a huge mass of cells, this replicates cancerous growths.

Bacteria
If you can accelerate cell splitting then you could also heal not the person but the bacteria that is already present in the target, we have many many different type of bacteria or fungus in us and an imbalance can cause many issues, a mild condition is Thrush but there are other bacteria or fungus that can also be fatal, or cause other condition such as blood poisoning.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why the downvote on my answer how can it be improved ? $\endgroup$ – JamesD Aug 16 '17 at 12:14
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The answer is pretty much yes – you can kill someone by healing. That is if it's using the body is natural healing process and just speeding it up. This might work for all types of healing depends how you magic works. But again assuming that you're not actually healing person so much as speeding up their body's natural healing process. Body naturally and places damage cells with new ones. For reasons that are yet unknown the body can suddenly start producing large quantities of new cells for no apparent reason this is what's commonly called cancer. If you can control the body's natural healing process you could theoretically cause cancer.

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Yes Fundamentally it's magic, so you can define how it's mechanism works however you like. To help define a mechanism by which "too much of a good thing is bad" here are some sources.

A scientific mechanism of "too much of a good thing" is oxygen toxicity. Essentially if the partial pressure of oxygen is too high, it becomes toxic. Cell membranes are damaged as they become "oxidized". Your healing magic could behave the same way. Too much magic in the system causes the target's flesh to essentially cook or burn.

A literary example of too much healing being a bad thing is a book by Orson Scott Card. "A Planet called treason". The main character has regenerative powers, but is a "Radical regenerative" The body cannot distinguish between healthy and injured. As a result the regeneration is constant, resulting in extra digits, or limbs that must constantly be cut away.

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As there already are a bunch of answers covering the 'healing' of the opponent, I'll take another route than the others:

Self-Enhancement

Healing Magic can potentially fix broken bones and even recover them. Use this to 'recover' the mage's bones to an extent, which can already be considered as enhancement. Make his knuckles or his complete arm several times bigger, harder, more resistable and so on. Let him use his magic to boost his strength or adrenaline to a maximum and then let him attack. Should be able to crush an enemy's defense and kill him in one punch.

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Healing can be restitution. Having a prosthesis competing for space with regenerated limbs/organs can become ugly. And what if you stop the healing with the limb back in place but circulation not yet in working order and/or enough blood available yet? Shock, likely.

You might incapacitate an enemy by healing his hairs from all the haircuts they have been given, effectively turning him into a tripping hairball.

How about healing bacteria in his body from a past infection?

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As Zaibis mentioned, the short of it is that you can do whatever you want because it's magic.

If you actually want it to be readily accepted, you need to go into the full specifics. For example, is some methods of arcane healing I've seen, the process has a duel fuel system using the source of magic as the medium for energy transfer.

For the amount of healing done, around 75% of the "life" energy required was given up by the caster while 25% or so was taken from the recipient. As a result, if the person that required healing was damaged too much or hadn't had much in the way of nutrients, there was a chance for failure, or the caster would give up too much energy and end up passing out or dying on their own.

The more detail you go into the process, the more you can get away with and actually explain.

"Ignore my search history, I'm a writer, I swear."

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Aug 16 '17 at 9:26
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Obviously, it depends on the way magic works, but we can ask a more generic question. Can a healer kill? Imagine a surgeon with a scalpel in his vic^W patient. Can he kill? Of course, it takes him a lot of precision and control not to kill. And if your healer can use his healing magic on his opponent, then, figuratively speaking, he has his scalpel in him already. Now all he needs is to twist it just the wrong way.

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Natural healing occurs in the body as well as the mind. Forced healing (though magic) might only heal the body, but not the mind. This unnatural gap between the two can be fatal when it becomes too large.

This is based on the idea of "the body cannot live without the mind".

A finger cut causes pain. Not that much pain, so it's trivial to overcome. A couple of minutes after cutting yourself you don't even notice it anymore.

But imagine you've been brutally handled on the battlefield, your thigh impaled by a lance, the leg almost severed, your shoulder crushed by a massive hammer. You still live, but your mind has already turned inwards because it could not cope with what happened.

Before the finishing blow you're rescued and a squad mage performs some quick healing. While your body is repaired, you are still secluded somewhere deep inside your mind. How to recover from that takes a vastly different approach then the healing of your body.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what is the mental healing one needs? i.e. from a cut in the finger? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 16 '17 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ I've added a bit of a story to clarify the concept. $\endgroup$ – Jasper N. Brouwer Aug 18 '17 at 11:31

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