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Pages 621 to 637 of volume 24 issue number 5 of the journal of social and clinical psychology of 2005 titled Self-forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research by Julie H. Hall and Frank D. Fincham conceptually analyse self-forgiveness, defining it and differentiating it from pseudo-self-forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness. In giving this explanation, it uses a model and information pertaining to the model’s limitations together with its repercussions on future research is explored. In addition, the model describes conditions for self-forgiveness, determinants of self-forgiveness such as offense-related, proposed emotional and social-cognitive and also outlines the processes involved in self-forgiveness (Julie & Frank, 2005).
Self-forgiveness is defined as a case of self-love together with respect as viewed by an individual after he or she commits a wrong-doing. Philosophically, it has been taken to imply the show of goodwill that one allows himself or herself, while at the same time clearing the mind of any form of self-contempt and hatred that arises from hurting someone else. Philosophers classify it into elements: that it needs an objective wrongdoing, any negative feelings resulting from the offence should be overcome and lastly, there should be internal acceptance of oneself. Psychologically, self-forgiveness is conceptualized through a phase model that depicts that one undergoes an uncovering phase, a decision phase, a work phase and finally an outcome phase. Using interpersonal forgiveness, self-forgiveness is conceived as a series of motivational adjustments in which an individual gets decreasingly inspired to steer clear of the stimuli associated with the wrong deed, demotivated to hit back at an individual and increasingly inspired to deal benevolently with an individual (Julie & Frank, 2005).
Just like interpersonal forgiveness, self-forgiveness is a conscious move that does not happen unintentionally and unfolds with passage of time thereby requiring an objective fault for which one gets forgiveness despite not being entitled to it. Differences between the two are that self-forgiveness is not the same as condoning a transgression and that self-forgiveness does not need to be unconditional just like interpersonal forgiveness. In addition, self-forgiveness involves reconciling with oneself unlike interpersonal forgiveness. Failure to commit oneself to self-forgiveness might lead to self-destruction (Julie & Frank, 2005).
The book also addresses the absence of evidence on the association that subsists between interpersonal forgiveness and self-forgiveness makes us to assume that they are either weakly related or totally unrelated. Forgiveness is believed to focus on the hurt that is felt due to a certain action since there would be no need for forgiveness in case there’s no consequential hurt. It is however possible to challenge this stand in that it fails to cater for abrogation of moral values and this is not right even if there’s no hurtful consequence and this might thus be an avenue for forgiveness. We cause harm to ourselves in most situations and therefore a way ought to be there for self-forgiveness. Certain people, such as drug and substance abusers and those with eating disorders may suffer guilt for their addiction to self-destructive behavior and thus require self-forgiveness.
The writer tries to put a distinction between self-forgiveness for the hurt that occurs from a certain deed and self-forgiveness for the hurt that occurs from identifying any behavioral flaws underlying the deed. A distinction is also made concerning pseudo-self-forgiveness and the true self-forgiveness by the author. It is explained that pseudo-self-forgiveness takes place when a wrong-doer does not acknowledge his or her offence and thus doesn’t accept responsibility. Realizing an offence and admitting responsibility make one to develop feelings of regret and guilt; these are necessary before an individual can think about self-forgiveness as told by the writer. It is said that any measures to try to forgive one without emotionally and cognitively processing the transgression and its impact would likely lead to suppression, denial, or pseudo self-forgiveness.
Julie & Frank, (2005) provides the definition of self-forgiveness as motivational change the writer bases on the assumption that the wrong-doer acknowledges the offence and assumes responsibility. Even though the two: true forgiveness and pseudo-forgiveness may seem to produce the same effects, they are not similar. Pseudo self-forgiveness may be achieved easily through self-deception whereas true self-forgiveness involves a rather long and arduous process that necessitates a lot of self-examination. It is doubted that true self- forgiveness and pseudo-forgiveness produce the same psychological, emotional and physical benefits. In a case where one adamantly believes that he or she is responsible for a certain occurrence, self-forgiveness would be deemed proper provided there had been bona fide trials to scrutinize the evidence, to identify the offence and to decide what extent of responsibility should be borne by the offender.
The processes used in getting criminals to achieve true self-forgiveness may be too painful and difficult according to the author. Self-forgiveness can also be considered across time and a range of transgressions; for example trait self-forgiveness. Processes associated with self-forgiveness differ depending on whether the focus is upon intrapersonal or interpersonal transgressions. It may not be possible to capture both of these in a single model and thus focus is given to self-forgiveness of interpersonal transgressions. Social-cognitive determinants of self-forgiveness encompass attributions, such that maladaptive attributions are associated with less forgiveness whereas benign attributions are associated with less forgiveness. This is according to the journal’s writer.
The writer asserts that the model discussed has many implications for other researches in the future. Inability to forgive oneself is characterized by lower self-esteem and higher neuroticism, anxiety, hostility and depression. True self-forgiveness is such a vital aspect of one’s life as seen in the literature piece provided, this piece of writing lays a ground for further research in the topic of self-forgiveness so that much more specific hypotheses concerned with the nature and course of self-forgiveness can be examined (Julie & Frank, 2005).
This section of the journal ‘Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology’ gives a revelation of the issue of self-forgiveness while at the same time offering a model whose importance does not only lie on the extent to which it acquires empirical support but also aids further research on the aspect of self-forgiveness.
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