THE HEALING POWER OF FAITH by Harold Koenig

THE HEALING POWER OF FAITH

Science Explores Medicine's Last Great Frontier

KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite the title, this is not about faith healers or miracle cures, but instead compiles scientific studies of the impact of religious life on physical and emotional health, interweaving these with a multitude of personal stories in support of research findings. Koenig is director of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health, which has conducted more than 50 studies of the relationship between health and traditional religious faith and practice. Among the center’s findings are that people who practice a religious faith tend to have a sturdier sense of well-being than do nonbelievers, possibly due to their more stable marriages and stronger families. They also have healthier habits, are better able to cope with stress, are less likely to suffer depression, have lower diastolic blood pressure and stronger immune systems, are hospitalized much less often, and live longer, healthier lives. But simply having faith that the universe is ruled by a benevolent God who hears prayers and performs miracles is not the whole story. According to research cited by Koenig, health benefits are derived directly from frequent attendance at religious services and active involvement with a supportive congregation. In story after story, he illustrates the role played by faith and religious practice in the lives of individuals beset by onerous physical and emotional problems. Both for those who are already religious and for others who are not, he concludes with practical recommendations on how to achieve the health benefits of faith and commitment for oneself or for an ailing loved one. The wealth of illustrative stories collected by Koenig makes this a highly readable summary of current research on the place of religion in health.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85296-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999




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