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.

I am an adult who has hurt my mother a number of times when I was a teenager.  I now very much would like to have her forgive me, but I am not sure that she has thought much about forgiveness.  She seems to have accepted who I was as a teen—a very immature young person.  Yet, I would like to see her truly forgive me.  How can I approach her with the idea of forgiveness?

One approach is to take one of the self-help books, such as my The Forgiving Life book published by the American Psychological Association.  I recommend that you read it first.  If you think it is appropriate for your mother, then share it with her and point out some of the sections in the book that proved helpful to you.  Your mother might get interested and, if so, this would give her a chance to work through the forgiveness process.

Learn more at The Forgiving Life.
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My partner has hurt me very deeply.  Now he refuses to get help for his drinking and basically is destroying himself.  How do you forgive someone under these circumstances?

Actually, the forgiveness process will not differ to a great extent when the person is destroying the self.  You might actually forgive for the original offense and then forgive for the situation in which the person now is not working with you to rise above the very challenging situation.  In other words, you can forgive twice and the second one may be harder than the first because the person is not working as a team with you.

Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.

I have forgiven someone who betrayed me and hurt me deeply.  My attitude toward the person now is good.  Yet, I have fear of this person.  What else can I do to move more deeply in forgiveness?

It seems to me that the issue now is not so much forgiveness as it is reconciliation.  Your fear likely is the result of a lack of trust toward the person because of the betrayal.  Reconciliation has to be earned.  Have you talked with the person and has this person understood the offense and now is willing to change?  You need to build some confidence in this person’s behavior and this will come if the person begins to behave in a way as to earn your trust.

Learn more at What Forgiveness Is Not.

After 50 Years of “Living as an Angry Person,” Forgiveness Brings Peace

WIBC-FM, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA – Although she is known around the world for forgiving the Nazis who tortured her during World War II, Eva Mozes Kor reveals in a newly-released film that she lived for nearly 50 years as an angry person before learning to forgive.Eva Moses Kor, Forgiveness, Eva

“I was very angry with many people. I was in a lot of pain,” said Kor as she reflected on her life and how uncomfortable she was baring her soul for the documentary “Eva” that was released in April.

“Forgive your worst enemies. It will heal your soul and it will set you free,” Kor says in the new film narrated by Ed Asner. It documents Kor’s life, her travels and struggles and how she became the person who was able to forgive the individuals who committed atrocities on her, and who killed her family and millions of other people.

Eva Moses Kor, forgiveness, Holocaust, EvaKor and her sister Miriam were the only survivors in their entire family and that was because they were twins who were separated from the others by the Nazis. Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor, was fascinated with twins and performed experiments on Kor and her sister among others. The lingering effects are believed to be what killed her sister in 1992.

The Holocaust (in Hebrew, “Ḥurban” meaning “destruction”), was the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this “the final solution to the Jewish question.”

Even before the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they had made no secret of their desire to eliminate all Jews. As early as 1919, Adolf Adolf Hitler, HolocaustHitler had written, “Rational anti-Semitism (discrimination against the Jews), must lead to systematic legal opposition.…Its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether.”

In his political manifesto, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), Hitler further developed the idea of the Jews as an evil race struggling for world domination. Nazi racial ideology  characterized the Jews as  “subhumans” and “parasites” while the Aryans (Germans) were the “genius” race. Ultimately, the logic of Nazi racial anti-Semitism led to annihilation of millions of Jews. 

When I forgive my former boyfriend, I find that I tend to make excuses for his behavior.  I don’t like it when I see that I am making excuses.  How do I avoid this?

There is a big difference between what we call **reframing** a person’s actions and excusing those actions.  For example, if you see that he was under pressure and displaced his anger onto you, you can forgive while at the same time acknowledging that he should not have treated you this way.  An excuse is to say that displacing anger is ok, acceptable, or not morally wrong.  When you forgive and start to reframe whom the other person is, try to keep in mind that the behavior still is not fair.  Your separating a person and his actions may help you to avoid excusing the actions as you forgive the person.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

Can a person get rid of anger permanently simply by letting it out or is forgiveness necessary to be rid of anger?

The answer depends on the level of injustice and the depth of the anger.  If the other was insensitive without being cruel, then your expressing an appropriate, measured level of anger may take care of the issue.  On the other hand, if you have been treated very unfairly and your anger is deep, then catharsis (letting out the anger) may not be effective.  Forgiveness then may be required to rid yourself of the anger.  Please keep in mind that catharsis by itself, when the problem is serious and the anger is deep, actually can increase the anger and lead to a pattern of being angry and expressing it.  Catharsis then needs forgiveness to deal in a healthy way with the anger.

Learn more at How to Forgive.