Before Forgiving: Cautionary Views of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy

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Sharon Lamb, Jeffrie G. Murphy
Oxford University Press, May 23, 2002 - Philosophy - 288 pages
For psychologists and psychotherapists, the notion of forgiveness has been enjoying a substantial vogue. For their patients, it holds the promise of "moving on" and healing emotional wounds. The forgiveness of others - and of one's self - would seem to offer the kind of peace that psychotherapy alone has never been able to provide. In this volume, psychologist Sharon Lamb and philosopher Jeffrie Murphy argue that forgiveness has been accepted as a therapeutic strategy without serious, critical examination. They intend this volume to be a closer, critical look at some of these questions: why is forgiveness so popular now? What exactly does it entail? When might it be appropriate for a therapist not to advise forgiveness? When is forgiveness in fact harmful? Lamb and Murphy have collected many previously-unpublished chapters by both philosophers and psychologists that examine what is at stake for those who are injured, those who injure them, and society in general when such a practice becomes commonplace. Some chapters offer cautionary tales about forgiveness therapy, while others paint complex portraits of the social, cultural, and philosophical factors that come into play with forgiveness. The value of this volume lies not only in its presentation of a nuanced view of this therapeutic trend, but also as a general critique of psychotherapy, and as a valuable testimony of the theoretical and practical possibilities in an interdisciplinary collaboration between philosophy and clinical psychology.

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User Review  - juglicerr - LibraryThing

This is a collection of essays, most of them quite good, on the subject of forgiveness. The editors and authors note that forgiveness is quite popular as a subject for therapy, but most of them take a ... Read full review


Reasons to Be Cautious about the Use of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy
Part I When Forgiving Doesnt Make Sense
Part II Forgiveness in the Therapy Hour
Part III Culture and Context in Forgiveness
Part IV Perpetrators and Forgiveness

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About the author (2002)

Sharon Lamb is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Michael's College. She has been interested in moral issues as well as abuse and victimization and has tried to combine these interests in her work. Her first book, co-edited with Jerome Kagan, was The Emergence of Morality in Young Children. Her second book, The Trouble with Blame: Victims, Perpetrators, and Responsibility was her first attempt to combine these two interests. Her recent book, New Versions of Victims: Feminists Struggle with the Concept is a cultural critique of the idea of the victim in the historical present, and forthcoming is The Secret Lives of Girls: Sex, Aggression, and Guilt Jeffrie Murphy is Regents Professor of Law and Philosophy at Arizona State University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on legal and moral philosophy, including Kant: the Philosophy of Right, Forgiveness and Mercy (with Jean Hampton), and The Philosophy of Law: an Introduction to Jurisprudence (with Jules Coleman), which was selected by Choice as an "Outstanding Academic Book of 1984". His third collection of essays, Character, Liberty, and Law: Kantian Essays in Theory and Practice appeared in 1998. He has written extensively on the topic of forgiveness.

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