The Amazing Benefits of Forgiveness Therapy on Cancer Patients

Time magazine has called Dr. Robert Enright “the forgiveness trailblazer” because of his groundbreaking scientific discoveries related to how forgiveness favorably impacts both emotional and physical health. Now the doctor (a Ph.D., not a physcian) is working with medical specialists in Europe to discover if forgiveness can improve the health of patients with multiple myeloma–a cancer of cells in the immune system.

Dr. Enright will provide an update on his latest forgiveness challenge at the 17th Annual Fall Cancer Conference sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin.

Advances in Multidisciplinary Cancer Care 2018 is the title of the day-long conference that will focus on “Unique Challenges Faced by Young Adults With Cancer.” Dr. Enright’s presentation begins at 2:00 pm and is entitled “Forgiveness as a Strengthening of Emotional Health in Cancer Patients and Their Families.”

While the conference is designed primarily for individuals who are involved in cancer treatment and education of cancer patients and their families, conference organizers are also encouraging patients, caregivers and community members to attend. For registration information, visit the 17th Annual Fall Cancer Conference website.

Forgiveness therapy for cancer patients is not a new endeavor for Dr. Enright. He and his colleagues completed a clinical trial nearly 10 years ago with cancer patients who were receiving end-of-life hospice care. That study found that as the patients’ physical health decreased, measures of emotional health increased if they completed forgiveness therapy.

Next, they completed a clinical trial with patients in cardiac units, where they observed a physical benefit to forgiveness: cardiac health measures, such as blood flow to the heart, increased in the patients on the intervention. Forgiveness therapy, then, has shown both palliative and physical benefits in medical settings.

“So now we’re working with physicians in Europe in regards to multiple myeloma,” Enright says. He explained that multiple myeloma is a cancer of cells in the immune system, that stress is known to compromise the immune system, and that forgiveness therapy has been demonstrated to reduce stress.

Interestingly, case studies in patients with low-grade multiple myeloma have already found disease stabilization if patients complete forgiveness therapy. Could forgiveness – a relatively inexpensive, non-drug-based intervention – become a part of some patients’ treatment plans? Enright and medical colleagues think the answer may be yes, and they are currently developing a clinical trial to understand if forgiveness improves myeloma patient health through measurable biological markers.

“That’s why next we need to do a clinical trial, for cause and effect,” Enright says. “The physicians will measure markers of immune system strength, and then I would bring the hope and anxiety scales to measure the psychological markers.”

Learn more and register for the 17th Annual Fall Cancer Conference.

Anger and Cancer: Is There a Relationship?

Anger is a negative emotion that can follow frustration, disappointment, and injustice. It can vary from mild and short-term to intense and long-term. It is the latter, the intense and long-term variety, that concerns us here, what we have called unhealthy anger (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2015).

To begin answering the question concerning the link between anger and cancer, let us start with a quotation that may be an overstatement and then let us get more precise. Groer, Davis, Droppleman, Mozingo, and Pierce (2000) made the following general statement: “Extremely low anger scores have been noted in numerous studies of patients with cancer. Such low scores suggest suppression, repression, or restraint of anger. There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis.

Notice that their conclusion centers on a certain type of anger, that which is not overtly expressed but instead, to use a common expression, is bottled up.

Our next question, then, is to look for supporting evidence of this claim of suppressed anger relating to cancer, and we find it in. . . . .

Read the rest of this blog by Dr. Robert Enright in Psychology TodayFirst posted on Sept. 18, 2017.

Holding on to an old grudge? Here’s help!

Are you are still holding on to a grudge, whether from yesterday or years ago? Are you still beating yourself up for some bad decision(s) you made in the past? 

“If so, find compassion and forgiveness in your heart (it’s actually in your brain) and you will be healthier and happier.”

That’s the advice of 90-year-old Dr. Natasha Josefowitz, an internationally-known author and consultant who has spent her life educating herself and others.

“This issue (holding on to past hurts) can impact our own health,” Dr. Josefowitz wrote in a recent HUFFPOST article. “We know that anger is stressful, and stress releases cortisol which narrows our arteries, which in turn can cause heart problems.”


Behind every destructive behavior is some unresolved pain that is then acted out.     Dr. Natasha Josefowitz,


“It is only when we can feel compassion that we can forgive,” Dr. Josefowitz adds. “Studies have confirmed that forgiving increases optimism and elevates mood whereas lack of it correlates with depression and anxiety. Forgiveness even increases blood flow to the heart.”

Read more:
– How to let go if you are you still holding on to an old grudge, HUFFPOST, Sept. 11, 2017.
– How to Forgive; the Four Phases of Forgiveness, International Forgiveness Institute website.
Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, Dr. Robert Enright.

Dr. Enright Featured at Healthy Aging Conference

Catholic Charities will host their Fifth Annual Healthy Aging Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the Sheraton Inn, 706 John Nolen Drive in Madison, WI.

The conference features two keynote speakers and eight workshops devoted to helping seniors, their adult children, and caregivers become familiar with the scope of alternatives that lead to positive and healthy aging.Healthy-Aging-Conference-Register-Btn

Dr. Robert Enright will kick off the conference with a keynote address, “Learning Forgiveness: Finding Hope and Joy in the Senior Years.”

Dr. Enright pioneered the social scientific study of forgiveness beginning in 1985 and currently works with schools in Belfast, Galilee, and 30 other world communities, helping teachers set-up forgiveness education programs. He is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the UW-Madison and a founding board member of the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc.

Curt Campbell, PT, NCS, ATP will present the noon keynote address, “Mobility and Successful Aging.” Campbell focuses on older adults with neurological issues including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, ALS, multiple sclerosis, vertigo, balance and mobility problems. He has been a Dean Clinic physical therapist for 10 years.

Conference attendees will be able to choose two workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon from a selection of eight:

  • ”Dimensions of Wellness” by Gayle Laszewski, older adult program director, Goodman Community Center.wellnessgraphic-2
  • “I Don’t Want to Move, I Want to Stay Independent” by Peggy Carroll, information and assistance specialist, ADRC.
  • “Yoga and Fall Prevention” by Paul Mross RYT, LMT, yoga instructor/researcher and founder of Happy, Healthy Aging Preventative Programs: Yoga.
  • “I have high blood pressure, not hypertension: Better Health Literacy Means Better Health” by Steve Sparks, director of the Wisconsin Health Literacy.
  • ”Boost Your Brain Health: Your brain and how to keep it strong.” Tips to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by Joy Schmidt, community education specialist at The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.
  • ”Diabetes Prevention: Your lifestyle, the easy, but not so easy
    choices you make every day”
    by Paul Manning, chief mission advancement officer at the YMCA of Dane County.
  • Live Longer: Choose Hospice” by Melanie Ramey JD, MSW / CEO The HOPE of Wisconsin.
  • ”Mind Over Matter, Brain Over Bladder” by Dr. Dobie Giles, chief of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery in the UW ob-gyn division of gynecology.

Registration is open online at www.ccmadison.org or by mail. Visit www.ccmadison.org and download an invitation/registration form. For seniors and students, the fee is $35; professionals, $65. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 2.