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How faith heals: a theoretical model

How faith heals: a theoretical model

Explore 5(2): 77-96

This paper summarizes theoretical perspectives from psychology supportive of a healing effect of faith. First, faith is defined as a congruence of belief, trust, and obedience in relation to God or the divine. Second, evidence for a faith-healing association is presented, empirically and in theory. To exemplify religiously sanctioned affirmation of such a connection, selected passages are cited from the Jewish canon attesting to biblical and rabbinic support for a faith factor in longevity, disease risk, mental health and well-being, disease prevention, and healing. Third, reference to theories of hope, learned optimism, positive illusions, and opening up or disclosure, and to theory and research on psychoneuroimmunology and placebos, demonstrates that contemporary psychology can accommodate a healing power of faith. This is summarized in a typology of five hypothesized mechanisms underlying a faith-healing association, termed behavioral/conative, interpersonal, cognitive, affective, and psychophysiological. Finally, implications are discussed for the rapprochement of religion and medicine.

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Accession: 053592638

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 19272579

DOI: 10.1016/j.explore.2008.12.003

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