Faculty Publications

What It Means To Forgive And Why The Way We Define Forgiveness Matters

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Peace and Conflict





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The potential of forgiveness to help individuals heal after a deep hurt cannot be over-emphasized. President Obama places forgiveness as Lesson 1 when discussing what he can teach America's children (O'Reilly, 2009). Traditionally associated with religion and philosophy, forgiveness has made its way into the field of psychology and has become an increasingly popular topic to investigate. Research on forgiveness has illustrated that it can be effective with various populations who have experienced deep, personal, and unfair hurts. In addition to empirical articles and dissertations, numerous books have been written on interpersonal forgiveness defining what forgiveness is, why it is important, and how to go about forgiving. In the book, Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program of Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness, Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang discusses why people should forgive, her definition of forgiveness, her model of how to go about forgiving, and the skills necessary to forgive. She also uses several detailed case studies to illustrate how one is changed after forgiving and the benefits associated with forgiveness. The idea that forgiveness could help individuals who have been deeply hurt realize that they have a right to feel and express their anger, learn a new way to deal with their negative emotions, and heal and move on might be of great interest to psychologists who have clients stuck in anger or who are consumed with hatred and thoughts of revenge. There is clearly a need for books about forgiveness. The Dalai Lama, in his foreword, emphasizes the importance of forgiveness for both individuals in the general population and in international relations. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

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