Forgiveness study on incest survivor

From Robert Enright

Video Interview Transcript

After 30 years of studying forgiveness what strikes me the most is how powerful the process of forgiveness is for emotional healing, spiritual healing, relational healing. For example, a colleague of mine Suzanne Friedman at the University of Northern Iowa and I did a study of incest survivors in the mid 1990s. Most therapeutic sciences were telling us that the best kind of therapy is to help maintain symptoms without symptoms getting worse because there are no psychotherapeutic techniques that can actually heal a woman who has been subjected to incest which is one of the most horrendous injustices of the world where a father who is supposed to be honoring and protecting her is taking advantage.
We did a study with 12 women. All of them came to us psychologically depressed and they didn't like themselves. Suzanne Friedman brought them through a forgiveness process, one hour a week for up to 14 months. Six of them, the other were in a control group, and after 14 months of one on one work with her, following our process of forgiveness, the women were depression free. Their depression didn't just go down. It left. They also came into the study not liking themselves for what happened. They ended up recovering their self-esteem. And their anxiety went down. Their hope for the future went up. I have been amazed at how strong forgiveness is at targeting resentments and unhealthy anger and all the complications that go with that when people have been treated profoundly unjustly where they literally can be healed from that.

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