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The Healing Connection

The Story of a Physician’s Search for the Link between Faith and Health

Harold G. Koenig

"It is inspiring to see a physician who is unafraid to stand up for his religious beliefs and who understands how those beliefs can resonate with good science." —Larry Dossey, MD, author of Reinventing Medicine and Healing Words

The name Harold G. Koenig is well known in the fast-growing field of spirituality and health. Founder and director of the widely respected Duke University Center for Theology, Spirituality, and Health, Dr. Koenig is recognized worldwide for his groundbreaking work in medical science and religious faith. In this book—now available in paperback—he shares his remarkable personal story and shows how personal trials became the catalyst for his pioneering research.

In part one, he describes his turbulent youth: growing up on a California vineyard, college days of experimentation during the 1970s, adventures as a student researcher in Africa with Jane Goodall, an emotional breakdown, expulsion from medical school for disruptive behavior, battling mental illness as a street person in San Francisco. He refers to his ongoing battle with a chronic and debilitating physical disease in terms of the insights it gives him for his work, and he recounts the striking realization of God's call, the people and events that helped him refine a vision into a mission, and the subsequent professional opposition that resided alongside his success.

Part two draws on the real-life examples of former patients and summarizes Koenig's most important findings concerning the impact of Christian faith on mental and physical health, encapsulated by the statement: religious faith and practice are connected to mental and physical health.

In part three he challenges individuals and the American church to consider the implications of the research and to develop constructive ways of implementing the healing connection that can be found in faith.

Introduction / ix

1. The Journey Begins / 1

Part 1: One Man’s Story

2. Early Days / 13

3. From Books to Buffaloes / 25

4. Butterfly Hunter / 35

5. From Med School to Madness / 45

6. Empty House, Empty Life / 57

7. Healed and Called / 67

Part 2: The Research Findings

8. Publish His Glorious Acts / 87

9. Hoping, Coping, and Growing: The Duke Studies / 95

10. Getting, Giving, and Living: The Duke Studies Continued / 109

11. The Evidence Piles Up / 123

Part 3: The Link for Us

12. Red Flags—When Faith Does Not Heal / 143

13. What Does the Research Mean? / 161

14. How Should We Respond? / 189

15. The Call to Care / 191