Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kathleen A. Lawler-Row
Forgiveness occurs in an interpersonal context, as a response to the intentional harm caused by another. When one individual insults another, reveals confidential or embarrassing knowledge, harms another or another's valued property, or is unfaithful to a committed partner, then the victim rightly feels that a moral transgression has occurred. One may seek justice to repair the harm or not, but the immediate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses are likely to be condemnatory, angry, and retaliatory. The long-term effects of the harm may involve angry rumination, chronic negative feelings, and obsessive thoughts of revenge. These long-term effects may lead individuals to seek alternative coping responses, either on their own or with therapeutic intervention. Forgiveness represents an alternative response that leads to more positive thoughts, feelings, and actions, while reducing anger, anxiety, and depression. Forgiveness is often defined by exclusion. Forgiveness does not involve condoning an offender's behavior, nor does it ...