Feature Archive

Health Benefits of a Sincere Apology

Saying you're sorry is potent medicine for the giver and receiver.

ByCharlene Laino
By Star Lawrence

WebMD Feature

Reviewed ByLouiseChang,MD

We all know the feeling. You gossiped and the person found out. You helped yourself to something that wasn't yours (such as someone's spouse). You stole. You lied. You read your child's diary. It never sits quite right -- you toss, you turn in bed, you have that sinking feeling in your chest, you eat, you drink too much, you get headaches.

Carol Orsborn, PhD, a research associate at UCLA and author of 15 books including Nothing Left Unsaid: Words to Help You and Your Loved Ones Through the Hardest Times and The Silver Pearl: Our Generation's Journey to Wisdom, tells WebMD about a woman she met while writing the latter book.

Barbara, age 50, was going through a divorce and her brother was her mainstay, talking her through lonely nights on the phone. Then she met the man of her dreams and moved away. She got so swept up in her new life, she put her brother on the backburner. She missed his birthday.

That's when the sleepless nights began. She was embarrassed to even call. She knew he would be hurt -- but would he be angry? Eventually, she picked up the phone. Yes, he was hurt, but he said he understood. She started sleeping again -- and talking to her brother.