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2020: A Record-Setting Year for Dr. Robert Enright and the International Forgiveness Institute
While “perseverance” and “grit” may be apt descriptors for what turned out to be perhaps the most peculiar year in modern history, forgiveness researcher Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has a different take on 2020: “Without question, it turned out to be our most productive year since I began studying forgiveness three decades ago.”
Scientific Research Studies:
To illustrate his point, the man Time magazine called “the forgiveness trailblazer,” rattled off the 11 scientifically-based manuscripts he and various team members completed and had published or accepted for publication during the year. Covering a wide range of cultural diversity, and encompassing studies in seven countries with both adult and child participants, those studies included (click title to read more):
- Compassionate love and dispositional forgiveness: Does compassionate love predict dispositional forgiveness? (Conducted in the United States) – Published in Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.
- Measuring intergroup forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. (China, Taiwan, Slovenia, United States) – Peace and Conflict Studies.
- Effectiveness of forgiveness education with adolescents in reducing anger and ethnic prejudice in Iran. (Iran) – Journal of Educational Psychology.
- A philosophical and psychological examination of “justice first”: Toward the need for both justice and forgiveness when conflict arises. – Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology [in press].
- An addition to peace education: Toward the process of a Just and Merciful Community in schools. (China and the United States) – Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology [in press].
- Evaluation of the effectiveness and satisfaction of the Learning to Forgive Program for the prevention of bullying. (Spain) – Electronic Journal of Educational Psychology [in press].
- Trauma and healing in the under-served populations of homelessness and corrections: Forgiveness therapy as an added component to intervention. – Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy [in press].
- Validating the Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory. (United States) – Current Psychology [in press].
- A randomized controlled trial of a forgiveness intervention program with female acid attack survivors in Pakistan. (Pakistan) –Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy [in press].
- “A Review of the Empirical Research Using Enright’s Process Model of Interpersonal Forgiveness” (International) – Handbook of forgiveness .
- “Forgiveness Within Psychotherapy” (International) – The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories.
In addition to his first love (scientific research on forgiveness, as evidenced by the list above), Dr. Enright developed and delivered targeted forgiveness presentations in the U.S. and around the world during 2020. His more noteworthy audiences included:
- Staff and imprisoned people at Her Majesty’s Prison – Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Doctors and medical specialists attending an online conference on polyclonal immunoglobulins in patients with multiple myeloma – Bratislava, Slovakia.
- Pediatricians, oncologists, and cancer treatment specialists attending the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Educational Conference – Madison, Wisconsin.
- Faculty and research associates at the Pan-European University – Bratislava, Slovakia.
- School administrators and teachers – Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- Students and faculty of Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia.
- Rotary Club members – Richmond, California.
Media Interviews, Podcasts, Video Productions:
As a highly-sought-after media personality, Dr. Enright’s 2020 media interviews included:
- A 67-minute podcast hosted and broadcast by Dr. Alexandra Miller, a popular family relations psychologist, on Rehabilitating those who are ‘Forgotten’: People in Prison. The podcast was downloaded by individuals in 225 US cities and 22 foreign countries in just the first three weeks after it was recorded in July.
- A multi-segment forgiveness video produced for Revolution Ventures, Bangalore, India.
- A “therapeutic music-discussion video” with song-writer/performer Sam Ness that was produced for those struggling with anguish caused by COVID-19. The therapeutic video, called “How to Beat the Coronavirus Lockdown Blues,” was distributed worldwide through venues including YouTube.
- A video interview at the International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
- Interview for DER SPIEGEL/Spiegel online, a German weekly news magazine that has the largest circulation of any such publication in Europe.
- Interview with author Aaron Hutchins for Maclean’s—a current affairs magazine with 2.4 million readers based in Toronto, Canada.
- Interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, Germany’s largest daily newspaper.
- Podcast interview with Dr. Peter Miller, Sport and the Growing Good: 8 Keys to Forgiveness.
- Live interview, The Drew Mariani Show (national), Relevant Radio.
- Interview with Dr. Max Bonilla, International Director, Expanded Reason webinar, Madrid, Spain.
BLOGS AND MORE:
The activity doesn’t stop there. During 2020, Dr. Enright:
- Authored 12 new forgiveness-related blogs for Psychology Today and 12 more for “Our Forgiveness Blog” on the International Forgiveness Institute website.
- Provided written responses on the IFI website for 208 “Ask Dr. Forgiveness” questions.
- Together with Jacqueline Song, IFI researcher and creator of the IFI’s Driver Safety Campaign, distributed more than 5,000 “Drive for Others’ Lives” bumper stickers requested by website visitors and funded by a grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation.
It seems to me that if a person is forgiving only to get rid of anger, then this is not real forgiveness. Is this true?
There is a difference between the original motivation to forgive and what forgiveness itself actually is. Oftentimes, people start the forgiveness process to rid themselves of unhealthy anger. If they still go through the forgiveness process by committing to do no harm, try to understand who the other person is, bear the pain, and offer respect and kindness toward the offending other person, then this is actual forgiveness. The initial motivation to forgive can change so that a new motivation is to aid the one who acted unjustly.
For further information on this, you might want to read my essay (click the link below), at Psychology Today, entitled, 8 Reasons to Forgive.
30 Years at the Forefront of Forgiveness Science: Dr. Robert Enright, “the Forgiveness Trailblazer”
Editor’s Note: Except for those literally living under a rock, few can deny that forgiveness has become not only an accepted but sought-after area of scientific psychological research during the past few decades. Forgiveness interventions have been tested, enhanced, and endorsed for both their psychological benefits as well as their physical health benefits. This year, in fact, marks a significant anniversary in what has become a remarkable evolution. Here are some of the significant dates in that chronology:
1989 – The first empirically-based published article in which there was an explicit focus on person-to-person forgiving appeared in the Journal of Adolescence. The article, “The Adolescent as Forgiver,” assessed two studies that focused on how children, adolescents, and young adults thought about forgiveness. The studies were conducted by Dr. Robert Enright, Dr. Radhi Al-Mabuk, and Dr. Maria Santos, MD.
“This year marks an important 30th anniversary of which the world is hardly aware and from which the world has greatly benefitted,” Dr. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, wrote earlier this month in a Psychology Today blog article referring to those pioneering studies and the Journal of Adolescence article. “Prior to this study, there was research on apology, or people seeking forgiveness, but never with a deliberate focus on people forgiving one another.”
In the first 1989 study, 59 subjects in grades 4, 7, 10, college and in adulthood were interviewed and tested to assess their stages of forgiveness development. As predicted, the study provided strong evidence that people’s understanding of forgiveness develops with age. Study 2, with 60 subjects, replicated the findings of Study 1.
1993 – The next empirical study of forgiveness was published that introduced Dr. Enright’s Process Model of how people forgive. (Hebl & Enright, 1993). This study showed that as elderly females forgave family members for unjust treatment, then they (the forgivers themselves) became psychologically healthier. This was the first published intervention study and it showed a cause-and-effect relationship between learning to forgive and the subsequent positive changes in psychological health.
1995 – Other researchers began to publish the results of their studies as they, too, took up the empirical cause of forgiveness. Dr. Enright, on whom Time magazine bestowed the title “the forgiveness trailblazer,” shared the knowledge he gained from his groundbreaking forgiveness research with inquisitive researchers around the globe who significantly broadened the scope of forgiveness investigations.
2015 – The empirically-based treatment manual, Forgiveness Therapy, is published by the American Psychological Association. Its authors: Dr. Robert Enright and psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons. Its audience: thousands of mental health professions around the world who are helping to make forgiveness therapy a gold-standard therapeutic treatment like psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy.♥
Learn more about Dr. Enright’s pioneering role in forgiveness therapy by reading his complete April 16, 2019 Psychology Today blog article “Reflecting on 30 Years of Forgiveness Science.”
Five Forgiveness Exercises for Couples
“Healing the emotional and relational wounds for couples.”
Life is hard enough without the added layer of conflict with those who are supposed to be good to us, which can lead to resentment which can lead to misery. One’s own inner conflict can spread to others and when a person is in a close relationship, it is all too easy for that inner conflict to become the other’s conflict as well.
The first ground-rule for these exercises is this: You are not doing this to change your partner. Your task is to change yourself and to do your part to improve the relationship. The second ground-rule is this: Your task is not to pressure your partner into these exercises. It is better if both of you are drawn to them, not cajoled into them.
With these ground-rules in place, let us go to the first exercise. Together, talk out what it means to forgive another person. You might be surprised to learn that you are not in agreement as to what forgiveness actually is because such a discussion of its meaning is rare. Common misconceptions are these: To forgive is just to move on from difficult situations; to forgive is to forget what happened; to forgive is to excuse what happened; to forgive is to stop asking something of the other by no longer seeking fairness. Yet, to forgive is none of these. To forgive is to offer goodness to those who have not been good to you. To forgive is to be strong enough to offer such goodness through your emotional pain for the other’s good. Take some time to discuss each other’s views and please do so with respect. Learning what forgiveness actually is takes time and effort primarily because we have not been schooled enough in this important concept.
The second exercise is to talk out the hurts that you received in your family of origin, where you grew up. Let the other know of your emotional wounds. This exercise is not meant to cast blame on anyone in your family of origin. Instead, the exercise is meant for each of you to deepen your insight into who your partner is. Knowing the other’s wounds is one more dimension of knowing your partner as a person. As you each identify the wounds from your past, try to see what you, personally, are bringing from that past into the relationship. Try to see what your partner is bringing from the past to your relationship. Who, now, is your partner as you see those wounds, perhaps for the first time?
For the third exercise, together, and only if you choose this, work on forgiving those from your family of origin who have wounded you. Support one another in the striving to grow in the process of forgiveness. The goal is to wipe the resentment-slate clean so that you are not bringing those particular wounds to the breakfast table (and lunch table and dinner table) every day. You can find direction in the forgiving process in my book, The Forgiving Life (American Psychological Association, 2012). Walking this path of forgiveness takes time and should not be rushed. Assist one another in this path. Be the support person for the other. Each one’s personal forgiveness journey is made easier when it is a team effort.
For the fourth exercise, when you are finished forgiving those family members from the past, work on forgiving your partner for those wounds brought into your relationship, and at the same time, seek forgiveness from your partner for the woundedness you bring to your relationship. Then, see if the relationship improves.
Finally, the fifth exercise: persevere in your forgiveness discussions. As an analogy, you do not become physically fit by four weeks or even four months of effort that then is abandoned. You have to keep at it. To become forgivingly fit, you need to set aside even a little time, perhaps 15 minutes a week, to discuss the injustices impinging on either or both of you, from inside the relationship, inside the family, or outside of it……..and then forgive and help the other to do so. You do not have to let the injustices of the past and the current inner miseries dominate you or your relationship. Forgiveness offers a cure for the misery and, at the same time, hope for a renewed and strengthened relationship.
Posted in Psychology Today March 11, 2017
American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 11, 2017. Enright, R.D. (2012). The Forgiving Life. Washington, DC: APA Books.
Forgiveness can change the world — and YOU
From Dr. Robert Enright –
“I come to you today with an idea. Ideas can lift up or tear down. They can be conduits for good or for great evil. Having studied the idea of forgiveness for the past 33 years, I am convinced that to date, the world has missed one of its greatest opportunities: to understand, nurture, and bring forth the idea of forgiveness within the human heart, within families, schools, workplaces, houses of worship, communities, nations, and between nations.
“Given the scientifically-supported findings across a wide array of hurting people across the globe, it is now obvious to me that forgiveness is an answer to the darkness, the injustice, the evil that can suddenly cascade down upon a person, overwhelming, devastating the inner world of that person who is caught off guard by the unfair treatment. When this happens, resentment can burst forth in the human heart, grow there, and become the unwanted guest that sours outlooks and relationships.
Resentments destroy; forgiveness builds up.
“Forgiveness is the strongest response against the ravages of resentment that I have ever seen. Forgiveness as an insight that all people have worth can stop the march of the madness, the cruelty, the acrimony dead in their tracks. Forgiveness as a free choice to offer goodness when others refuse to offer it back can shine a light in the darkness and destroy evil. Yes, forgiveness can destroy evil because the light of forgiveness is stronger than any darkness and while some scoff and laugh at that, those who have the courage to try tell me that forgiveness is the over-comer, the defeater of a life being lived with bitterness and revenge-seeking.
“Forgiveness is an answer to injustice. Forgiveness is a cure for the potentially devastating effects of injustice. Forgiveness holds out the hope of living with joy.”
Forgiveness can change the world–and YOU. How will you now contribute to this new idea? Read the rest of Dr. Enright’s “big picture” blog essay in the current issue of Psychology Today then send us your comments.