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Forgiveness heals, data shows

From the March 2003 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Is forgiveness the bridge between science and religion? Scientific evidence is mounting that forgiveness isn't simply an abstract virtue or a warm-and-fuzzy theological idea. It's practical. It has medicinal power. Its impact on health is quantifiable.

Groundbreaking studies within the new scientific discipline of forgiveness research—a field that has emerged from clinical psychology and medicine—have been conducted since the early 1990s. Millions of dollars in grants are bestowed every year to support research into the forgiveness factor.

"Forgiveness is not just religious. It's something everyone can do," says Everett L. Worthington Jr., professor of psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the last decade, Professor Worthington, one of the originators of this fledgling field, has helped over 1,300 people learn how to forgive. He's one of the main contributors to a body of research that says forgiveness is good for one's health and that holding a grudge is a health hazard. His research shows that:

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