Introduction (excerpt from The Stanford Daily, February 4, 2002 )
New studies look at forgiveness — by Gohar Galyan
To earn his doctorate in counseling and health psychology from Stanford in 1997, Fred Luskin had to write a dissertation. At the time, Luskin was furious with a friend. To complete his graduation requirement and to cope with the pain, Luskin researched and wrote about forgiveness.
“I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t forgive,” he said. “I was badly hurt by a friend of mine and it threw my world upside down.”
Luskin, now a research associate with the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, focused on Stanford students’ experiences when he initially began studying forgiveness. In 1999, after earning his doctorate, Luskin launched the original Stanford Forgiveness Project, which studied Bay Area residents. According to Luskin, the study involved 260 participants, including 100 men.
“The results were very positive,” Luskin said. “People showed less stress, less anger, more optimism and more forgiveness.”
Research is conducted in a workshop format and typically lasts from five to six weeks, he said. In his research, he teaches forgiveness as a skill.
“It is not therapy. It is teaching people how to learn this kind of skill,” he said. “We can teach people to forgive and that will improve their well-being.”
The Stanford Forgiveness Project has evolved and now exists as an umbrella organization for numerous Stanford research projects that address forgiveness.
Over the years, researchers with the Stanford Forgiveness Project have worked with families from Ireland who have lost loved ones due to civil strife. The Stanford- Northern Ireland HOPE Project has conducted research on three different occasions with Irish families.Continue reading