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Does an early perception of love influence the incidence of disease?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
One of the most interesting and powerful examples of how loving relationships may affect susceptibility to disease in general was a study of Harvard students by Drs. Stanley King, Harry Russek, Gary Schwartz, Linda Russek, and others. In the early 1950s, 126 healthy men were randomly chosen from the Harvard classes of 1952 to 1954 and given questionnaires to measure how they felt about their parents.In the first test, students were asked, Would you describe your relationship to your mother and to your father as [check one]:
             Very close
             Warm and friendly
             Tolerant
             Strained and cold
The effects of feeling warmth and closeness with mothers and fathers appeared to be additive. All (100 percent) of the participants who rated both their mothers and fathers low in warmth and closeness thirty-five years earlier had diseases diagnosed in midlife. Only 47 percent of those who rated both their fathers and mothers high in warmth and closeness had diagnosed diseases in midlife. The other two groups were intermediate. Seventy-five percent of those who rated their mother high but their father low in warmth and closeness had diagnosed diseases in midlife, and 83 percent of those who rated their father high but their mother low in warmth and closeness had diagnosed diseases in midlife.
The researchers wrote, "The perception of love itself ... may turn out to be a core bio psychosocial-spiritual buffer, reducing the negative impact of stressors and pathogens and promoting immune function and healing."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.