You recently asked me how power can help me overcome the anger within. Well, I will tell you. If I can get back at the one who was ridiculous to me, then I get rid of the anger. You as a psychologist should know this. The name of this cleansing is called catharsis, right?
Catharsis or “letting it all out” will not necessarily cleanse your anger in the long run. Yes, you may feel empowered for a short time, but if the injustice against you is deep, then the internal effects on you can last for many years. For example, we have worked in a hospice situation in which some of the participants in our forgiveness intervention had been carrying anger within them for over 40 years. Nothing they had tried cleansed that anger until, 40 years later, they made the choice to forgive.
My friend, Doloris, is upset with one of her parents. I can see that she would benefit from forgiving. Yet, she will not listen. What do you suggest that I do?
You do not want to pressure Doloris into forgiving. At the same time, you do not necessarily want to ignore your friend who could be better off psychologically by considering forgiveness. I recommend that you be aware of Doloris’ inner pain. When she expresses that pain (as fatigue or bodily tensions or deep anger), you could focus on that pain and ask her if she has a way of reducing or eliminating that pain. If she has no effective strategies in mind, it is then that you might consider suggesting forgiving as a way to get rid of the pain. I have found that pain is a great motivator toward healing and forgiving is one path to that healing.
For additional information, see 8 Reasons to Forgive.
No one argues about the need to stop bullying in schools. Bullying’s adverse effects not only impact the child when the bullying occurs but typically impact a victim’s health and emotions throughout the person’s lifetime (see “The Impact of Bullying” box below).
That reality has become a growing topic of concern in the academic community with bullying being cited as a universal problem in countries around the world. Over the past several decades, literally hundreds of school-wide anti-bullying programs have been developed and implemented. That raises the question, of course: Do school antibullying programs work?
The typical answer from those professionals studying that question is: “Not so well. We need to do better.”
And sure enough, that’s the inauspicious conclusion of a just-completed systematic review of scientific publications covering the past 20 years. According to the study, Whole‐school Antibullying Interventions, a full 50% of all the school programs reviewed failed to “show significant effects on bullying prevalence” or found negative results including an actual increase in bullying.
The study, published in April by the peer-reviewed journal Psychology in the Schools, was conducted by university researchers in Brazil. While their study found that anti-bullying interventions resulted in increased reporting of bullying occurrences (with resultant increases in the use of punitive discipline), at the same time many of the programs failed totally–primarily due to inadequate time for training and implementation as well as lack of support.
Those findings come as no surprise to many psychologists. In fact, the report actually documented and reinforced what educational psychologist Dr. Jichan J. Kim first reported more than four years ago in his University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral thesis: The Effectiveness of a Forgiveness Intervention Program on Reducing Adolescents’ Bullying Behavior.
Dr. Kim’s thesis includes a 29-page literature review in which he documents the unusually large number of research projects demonstrating the ineffectiveness of most school-wide anti-bullying programs including:
- A 2007 review of 45 separate school-based anti-bullying studies involving 34,713 individuals that concluded “the positive changes were too small to be supported as significant;”
- Another 2007 examination of 16 major anti-bullying programs across 11 different countries that showed mixed results with less than half the programs demonstrating desirable effects;
- A 2008 evaluation of 16 studies across 6 nations involving a total of 15,386 K-12 students that showed the interventions tended to influence students’ attitudes and self-perceptions but not their bullying behavior; and,
- Studies completed in 2012, 2014, and 2015 (one involving 560 school psychologists and school counselors) supporting the lack of evidence-based interventions.
Despite all the negative assessments he uncovered, Dr. Kim believes there is one approach that might be effective–helping adolescents exhibiting bullying behavior to forgive those who have offended them in the past. That approach, Dr. Kim says, is still not widely used and is, therefore, still not a compelling component of the scientific literature although he is confident it “can be beneficial.”
That intervention approach, in fact, is the one advocated in The Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program developed more than 8 years ago by Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. The program not only incorporates lessons-learned from Dr. Enright’s more than 40-years of forgiveness research, it also integrates the scientifically-quantifiable forgiveness process he developed and , perhaps most importantly, it focuses directly on the one doing the bullying.
“Those who bully usually have pent-up anger and as a result they displace their own wounds onto others,” Dr. Enright explains. “Our program is meant to take the anger out of the heart of those who bully so that they no longer bully others.”
Dr. Enright says his research has taught him to take an approach that may seem counter-intuitive today, but will appear obvious to many in the future: “Yes, help the victim, but also help the one who is bullying to get rid of his or her anger, which is fueling the bullying. Those who bully have been victimized by others. Help them to reduce their resentment toward those who were the victimizers and the bullying behavior will melt away.”
- Learn more about Dr. Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program.
- Learn more about Dr. Jichan Kim, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. (Disclosure: Dr. Enright was Jichan Kim’s graduate school adviser).
- Read a review of Forgiveness Therapy.
- Learn more about the long-term impacts of bullying in the 2014 British Study.
- Learn how bullying statistics compare in your state versus others, with this interactive Bullying-Cyberbullying-Sexting Map of the U.S.
- Learn about bullying and cyberbullying in your country with this interactive International Research on Bullying Map of the World.
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 577,400 people, according to official counts. As of Friday evening, at least 26,678 people have died, and the virus has been detected in at least 171 countries, as graphically illustrated on these maps by The New York Times.
There is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against all non-essential travel throughout most of Europe, and to South Korea, China and Iran. The agency has also warned that older and at-risk Americans should avoid travel to any country.
The outbreak is believed to have begun in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China. The virus seems to spread very easily, especially in confined spaces, making containment efforts difficult. It is difficult to know how many people who contract the virus die, but some early estimates put the fatality rate at roughly 1 percent.
The number of known coronavirus cases in the United States continues to grow quickly and has now surpassed that of any other country in the world including mainland China where the virus supposedly originated. As of Thursday morning, there have been at least 100,973 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests and 1,572 deaths in the U.S., according to a New York Times database. That same database details confirmed cases and deaths for all 171 countries.
While the outbreak is a serious public health concern, most people who contract the coronavirus do not become seriously ill, and only a small percentage require intensive care. Older people and those with existing health conditions, like heart or lung disease, are at higher risk.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production, diarrhea, and sore throat are less common. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. As of 20 March 2020, the rate of deaths per number of diagnosed cases is 4.1 percent; however, it ranges from 0.2 percent to 15 percent, according to age group and other health problems.
The virus is typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing. It may also be spread from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s face. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between two and fourteen days, with an average of five days.
- How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus
- How the Coronavirus Can and Cannot Spread
- Visit the John Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center
- Visit the Harvard University Medical School Coronavirus Resource Center
You talk a lot about how forgiveness lowers one’s anger. You further state that too much anger is unhealthy for a person. Yet, isn’t it possible for anger to linger for a very long time when someone close to you betrays you?
Yes, you do make a good point. When betrayed by a loved one (and many other examples of injustice), anger can continue for a very long time, even years. Yet, there is an important difference between feeling some anger as you recall what happened and being dominated by intense, unhealthy anger. Forgiveness, practiced patiently over time, can reduce this unhealthy form of anger. Having some anger left over simply shows that you are human and you are still, legitimately, responding to what happened to you. You are saying that you are a person of worth who should not have been treated this way. So, I think you can go in peace knowing that you have forgiven even with some residual anger. If you are feeling the intense, toxic anger on a regular basis, I suggest that you turn once again to the process of forgiveness to lower that anger.
For additional information, see How do I know if my anger is healthy or unhealthy?