Tagged: “Dr. Robert Enright”

Can you think of a situation in which forgiveness would definitely not be appropriate at all?

Let us first make a distinction between forgiveness itself and people who forgive.  Some people will not forgive others for certain horrendous situations.  This is their choice and they should not be criticized for their decision.  In contrast, forgiveness itself, as a moral virtue, is always appropriate (for those who choose it) because it centers on goodness and goodness itself is always appropriate.  Here is an essay on wrote on this subject at the Psychology Today website:

Is Forgiving Another Person Always Appropriate?

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If I still have anger toward someone who was really bad to me, does this mean I have not forgiven?

If you have reduced your anger as you have forgiven and if you now are in control of your anger (rather than your anger controlling you), then yes, I would say that you have forgiven or at least are well along the pathway of forgiveness.  Sometimes not all anger is eliminated, especially when we are treated very badly by others.  If you feel anger welling up in you again, then please revisit the forgiveness process toward this person.

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I am having a very hard time forgiving my husband and now I am beginning to wonder if I am struggling with this because too often my husband’s behavior reminds me of my father’s imperfections toward me.  Do you think this is possible, that I am blocked from forgiving my husband because of my past history with my father?

I think this is a very insightful point.  It definitely can be the case that people have difficulty forgiving a partner because of similarities between the partner and the forgiver’s parent.  I suggest that you first forgive your father for what you are calling his “imperfections” toward you.  Once you have walked the pathway of forgiveness with your father, your forgiving your husband then may be deep and therefore more effective.  The fact that you see this connection between father and husband is important and I think this will help you.

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I am doing academic work on forgiveness and need an answer to this question: What is the first scientific study on forgiveness therapy ever published?

The first forgiveness therapy study (in which data were gathered and statistics applied to the results) ever published was by Hebl and Enright in 1993.  Here is the reference to that work:

Hebl, J. H., & Enright, R. D. (1993).  Forgiveness as a psychotherapeutic goal with elderly females. Psychotherapy, 30, 658-667.

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Another question for my academic work:  Was the Hebl and Enright (1993) study the very first empirically-based publication on forgiveness or is there an earlier publication that uses research to examine forgiveness?

Yes, there is a research article published in 1989.  It is an empirically-based study that is not a forgiveness intervention.  Instead it is an examination of how children, adolescents, and adults think about forgiveness.  Data were collected and statistics applied to the responses.  This is the reference to that work:

Enright, R. D., Santos, M., & Al-Mabuk, R. (1989).  The adolescent as forgiver. Journal of Adolescence, 12, 95-110.

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