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The Link Between Religion and HealthPsychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor$
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Harold G. Koenig and Harvey J. Cohen

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143607.001.0001

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Psychological Stress and Autoimmune Disease

Psychological Stress and Autoimmune Disease

(p.174) 10 Psychological Stress and Autoimmune Disease
The Link Between Religion and Health



Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at diseases which result not from a hypoactive immune system but rather from an immune system functioning in an exaggerated or uncontrolled fashion. This is seen in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves's disease, multiple sclerosis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and a host of other disorders which arise when an overactive immune system attacks normal healthy tissue. Religious beliefs and practices (from Buddhist to Judeo-Christian traditions) may help reduce stress by improving coping and thereby favorably affect the course of these diseases. Religious beliefs may facilitate coping by providing patients with a greater “sense of coherence” which makes sense of or gives meaning to the pain and suffering which these people experience.

Keywords:   autoimmune diseases, immune system, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stress, religious beliefs, diabetes mellitus

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