The Healing Power of Friendship by R. Murali Krishna, M.D.


Published on

The Healing Power of Friendship by R. Murali Krishna, M.D.

R. Murali Krishna, MD, DLFAPA, noted and well respected Oklahoma City psychiatrist, has recently published his first book, VIBRANT: To Heal and Be Whole - From India to Oklahoma City which he coauthored with Kelly Dyer Fry, president of news at OPUBCO. For more information visit

Published in: Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

The Healing Power of Friendship by R. Murali Krishna, M.D.

  1. 1. The Healing Power of Friendship By R. Murali Krishna, M.D.
  2. 2. Laura is a new sales representative with a growing company. Although she doesn’t have to work in an office environment and maintains a home office instead, she’s seen her work hours nearly double in just the past few months. Her close friendship with a college roommate has dwindled to a once a month lunch. She feels terrible about it. But what can she do?
  3. 3. Chad is a busy attorney with a growing practice. He finds himself spending his days – and nights – meeting deadlines, preparing for trials and engaged in lengthy telephone conferences. Over the past year, he’s had less and less time to spend with a group of golfing buddies. Barbara was promoted to director of her department six months ago. She’s found herself at the office at least one day each weekend. She also brings work home, while her husband takes of care of the evening rituals of feeding, bathing and tucking in their two young children. She’s often at her computer monitor until bedtime.
  4. 4. >> It seems to be a growing conflict in many professions (a recent survey of lawyers in Boston, for example, found that 43 percent of new associates quit within three years because they believed they had to choose between a career and a family). >> Not only are families and jobs increasingly at odds, friendships are also often falling victim to the busy workplace our superheated economy has created. >> While the fictional characters of the NBC hit sitcom “Friends” continue to lounge on couches at a New York coffee shop, the rest of us are finding it more difficult to fit friendship into our busy lives. The consequences may be more than just a lack of a social life. Our health and well-being are at stake too.
  5. 5. Blame it on longer work hours, more insulation in the electronic cocoons of our homes or even the wall that e-mail tends to place between us Whatever the cause, The Wall Street Journal recently felt compelled to ask, “Whatever Happened to Friendship?”
  6. 6. >> As a culture, we may be abandoning friendship at our own peril. >> Medical research is showing the more healthy relationships you have, the better off you are. >> True friendship and sound health are inextricably linked. Having friends not only gives you more meaning and purpose, it also lessens your stress level and may even add years to your life.
  7. 7. In my own experience, I’ve found there are three levels of healthy relationships central to fulfilling that most basic of human needs – connection: >> Friendship with yourself >> Friendship with a higher power >> Friendship with others
  8. 8. In our present society, we have a lot of “hi-and-goodbye” relationships. Few are able to develop long-term, nurturing and supportive relationships. >> In the United States, a quarter of our population moves every year. >> We pack our bags and move somewhere else, establishing new contacts. >> We may be better off in terms of salary and jobs and stature, but we’re lacking in something else. >> We humans have a need to connect, and that need is artificially taken away from us by modern culture and modern technology. >> Even the bravest of our explorers throughout history had a need to connect with other people. Christopher Columbus wanted to discover the New World so that he could return to the Old World to share the news.
  9. 9. When we deprive ourselves of connection, we rob ourselves of a key component of healthy living. You need to look no further than the latest science for proof of this. Medical research on the positive effects of friendship is striking: >> Researchers at Yale University surveyed death rates among 10,000 seniors with different degrees of social contact. They discovered a 50 percent reduction in the risk of death over a five-year period.
  10. 10. >> A study last year at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center looked at the health status of 2,800 seniors. Seniors with friends had a lower risk of disabling health problems and recovered faster when they became ill. The more friends, the greater the health benefits. >> Researchers studied 7,000 people in Alameda County, California over a nine-year period. People with the most social support and connectedness had the best health and long life. People with poor ties died two to five times higher than people with solid social ties.
  11. 11. More research is also turning up the dark side. Isolation is bad for you: >> Researchers studied the impact of living alone after a heart attack. They tracked about 1,200 heart-attack patients for an average of two years. In this time, the patients who lived alone, compared to those with companions, had twice the risk of a second heart attack and twice the risk of dying. >> Connecticut researchers tracked for six months nearly 200 men and women over age 65 who had a major heart attack. During this time, nearly 40 percent of the patients died. Taking into account the usual risk factors, lack of emotional support was deadly. Compared to those who had close friends, men and women who said they had no emotional support were three times as apt to die.
  12. 12. >> Emotionally-abandoned babies develop a syndrome called “failure to thrive.” As a result of severe loneliness, the babies’ pituitary glands fail to produce sufficient growth hormone. These children literally wither away, despite having adequate nutrition. Many of them die before reaching toddler hood. Those who survive are emotionally damaged. It seems clear that maintaining healthy ties to other people can have a significant impact on our health. But how do we do it in today’s super-fueled Information Age? >> We should focus on having a handful of quality relationships. >> It’s also valuable to maintain a few healthy relationships in different spheres of life. >> An obvious friendship can be had with your spouse, another with one or two colleagues, and another with one of your neighbors.
  13. 13. >> Many urban professionals who want to foster friendships often face the constant twin challenges of deadline pressure and competition. But to experience close friendship, we must be willing to shed some of our professional armor. >> You should be willing to open up to this other person you call your friend. >> It must be a mutual exchange, an interaction. >> You must feel comfortable sharing opinions, ideas, feelings, hopes, frustrations and dreams. >> And you should offer feedback, advice and sometimes admonition. Sharing is one of the most important qualities of genuine friendship.
  14. 14. In your friendship with yourself, this process can work through keeping a daily journal, where you share with your own spirit and heart the issues that are most important to you. >> In your relationship with a higher power, you can experience a similar exchange through prayer. >> In friendships with others, simply sharing a common activity can open your relationship up to a deeper kind of understanding. >> It can be something quite superficial, such as golf, tennis, fishing or riding bicycles. >> These common bonds act as a glue that keeps relationships together until they mature and strengthen.
  15. 15. Henry Adams once wrote, “One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible.” He may have been right. But I tend to think we can find many meaningful friendships in our professions, our communities and even within ourselves. Forging friendships is a powerful tool that can shape your life and give your daily existence more meaning. And it seems to be an almost magical tool for improving your health.
  16. 16. Dr. Krishna is president and chief operating officer of INTEGRIS Mental Health, that provides adult and child/adolescent mental health services in inpatient, residential, outpatient & clinical settings; an employee assistance program; and crisis intervention services. He is also co-founder and president of the James L. Hall, Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit, an educational organization devoted to improving health through raising awareness of the healing power of the connection between mind, body, and spirit.
  17. 17. Author of VIBRANT: To Heal and Be Whole - From India to Oklahoma City, Dr. Krishna reveals the secrets to living a vibrant life while overcoming: • Anxiety • Trauma • Sleep dysfunction • Stress • Obesity • Emotional dysfunction • Depression • Addiction • Substance abuse • Loss • Anger • Unresolved issues • Relationship stress • Mental illness • Alcoholism
  18. 18. R. Murali Krishna, MD, DLFAPA >> Co-Founder & President, James L. Hall, Jr Center for Mind, Body and Spirit >> President & COO, INTEGRIS Mental Health >> President, Oklahoma State Board of Health >> Founding President, Health Alliance for the Uninsured >> Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Univ. of OK Health Sciences Center
  19. 19.