The science of forgiveness: “When you don’t forgive you release all the chemicals of the stress response”

From “Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World”

The Burn Surgeon: How Anger Can Impede Healing

In 1978, Dr. Dabney Ewin, a surgeon specializing in burns, was on duty in a New Orleans emergency room when a man was brought in on a gurney. A worker at the Kaiser Aluminum plant, the patient had slipped and fallen into a vat of 950-degree molten aluminum up to his knees. Ewin did something that most would consider strange at best or the work of a charlatan at worst: He hypnotized the burned man. Without a swinging pocket watch or any other theatrical antics, the surgeon did what’s now known in the field of medical hypnosis as an “induction,” instructing the man to relax, breathe deeply, and close his eyes. He told him to imagine that his legs—scorched to the knees and now packed in ice—did not feel hot or painful but “cool and comfortable.” Ewin had found that doing this—in addition to standard treatments—improved his patients’ outcomes. And that’s what happened with the Kaiser Aluminum worker. While such severe burns would normally require months to heal, multiple skin grafts, and maybe even lead to amputation if excessive swelling cut off the blood supply, the man healed in just eighteen days—without a single…

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