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Stanford psychologist Fred Luskin taking questions on the health benefits of forgiving

This week we're introducing a new Scope feature that gives readers the opportunity to send questions on a specific topic to our medical school faculty.

Once a month, we'll select a specific conversation topic and invite a medical school professor or researcher to answer your questions on the subject. We'll take your questions here and via our @SUMedicine Twitter feed over the course of a week - just send an @reply to @SUMedicine and include the hashtag #AskSUMed in your tweet and we'll do the rest. Once the submission period ends, we'll select questions for the faculty member and post them here on Scope with the answers.

To get things started, we've asked Fred Luskin, PhD, a research associate at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and co-founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, 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.

To submit your questions to Luskin about the health-enhancing effects of forgiveness, send an @reply message to @SUMedicine and include the hashtag #AskSUMed in your tweet. (Not a Twitter user? Then please submit a comment below.) We'll collect questions until Friday at 5 pm. In submitting questions, please abide by the following ground rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful to the person answering your questions
  • Be respectful to one another in submitting questions
  • Do not monopolize the conversation or post the same question repeatedly
  • Kindly ignore disrespectful or off-­topic comments

Stanford experts taking questions on the @SUMedicine feed will answer a selection of the questions submitted, but not all of them.

Finally - and you may have already guessed this - an answer to any question submitted as part of this feature is meant to offer medical information, not medical advice. These answers are not a basis for any action or inaction, and they're also not meant to replace the evaluation and determination of your doctor, who will address your specific medical needs and can make a diagnosis and give you the appropriate care.

Previously: Inspiration for high achievers: Try a little respiration and Stanford class teaches students how to live a happier, healthier life
Photo by Ross Griff

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