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Local Doctor Prescribes Forgiveness As Medicine

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Wendy Rigby
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Texas Public Radio
Venkat Srinivasan, MD, and Carol Davidson believe in the healing power of forgiveness.

A San Antonio physician has written a book that includes the notion that forgiveness can be good medicine. He believes it’s healthy to just let go of anger and resentment.

Venkat Srinivasan, MD, has a way with people. He believes in caring for his patients as a whole: body, mind and spirit. Four years ago, Dr. Srini as he’s called at Southwest General Hospital, started studying integrative medicine.

  

  

 

"The body and the mind are not necessarily separate," Srinivasan explained. "They are intertwined."

In other words, emotions and attitudes affect health. Srinivasan believes withholding forgiveness can cause a persistent mental wound that won’t heal, bleeding into other aspects of our wellness like sleep patterns, blood pressure, mental health.

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Credit Southwest General Hospital
Venkat Srinivasan, MD, in on the medical staff at Southwest General Hospital. He is described as one of the hospital's key leaders.

  

Here’s what the doctor tries to find out. "What is it that is preventing you from healing? Sometimes it is guilt, anger," he explained. "These things prevent us from healing."

"It was just making me sick. The stress of it. I couldn’t get free," said Carol Davidson of San Antonio.

Davidson says she left an abusive marriage after four decades, only to realize she was still hostage to her resentment and pain.

Srinivasan made sure she got therapy and medication for her depression, but he also nudged her toward another intervention.

"My husband was dying of cancer," Davidson stated. She decided to forgive the man who abused her, out loud, in person.

"So I went to the hospital and I forgave him. And it was the best thing I ever did," she said.

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Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Dr. Srinivasan's newly-published book is titled Principles of Mind-Body Medicine.

  

"All I can tell you is the difference in her is like night and day," Srinivasan observed.

Srinivasan says recent physiological studies have shown forgiveness can bear unexpected fruit, like lower blood pressure, a more robust immune system, better sleep patterns and overall less stress on the body.

However, he says skeptics know complete scientific proof of the physical effects of bestowing forgiveness is simply not possible. "You’re never going to have a complete slam dunk, double blind, placebo controlled trial to prove this," he admitted.

Davidson’s explanation for the power of forgiveness is less clinical than Srinivasan’s, but just as powerful. "

When you forgive, you have peace," she said.

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Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Dr. Srinivasan plans to use his book as a textbook for a course he is teaching to medical students in India.

  

Srinivasan says the power of forgiveness is evident across culture and in people with or without a religious background. He doesn’t invalidate justified anger or righteous indignation. He just says it might be worth letting it go.

"There’s hardly any side effect to this. So, why not?