Can Failing to Forgive Affect Your Health?

This blog post originally appeared on Scopeblog, the link is



Fred Luskin, PhD, a research associate at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and co-founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, as well as Program Chair of the Clinical Psychology program at Sofia University, was asked to respond to your questions about why forgiveness is important for health.

A central goal of Luskin’s research is to show that forgiveness is beneficial for emotional, physical and relationship well-being. His work demonstrates how learning to forgive leads to increased physical vitality, hope, optimism and conflict resolution skills as well as decreased anger, depression and stress. Through the Stanford Forgiveness Project, he has explored forgiveness therapy with people who suffered from the violence in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, and the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

In his Stanford Hospital workshop, “Forgive for Good,” and book by the same name, Luskin examines the latest research on forgiveness with the goal of helping patients learn how to release unwanted hurts and grudges in order to reduce hurt and helplessness and to increase confidence and hope.

His work is part of a growing body of scientific research suggesting that failure to forgive may increase a person’s risk for heart disease, mental illness and other ills over his lifetime, and that the act of reconciling with a transgressor can boost one’s health.


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