Forgiveness: origins, dynamics, psychopathology, and technical relevance

Salman Akhtar
Psychoanalytic Quarterly 2002, 71 (2): 175-212
This paper integrates a diverse and scattered literature to describe the psychodynamic underpinnings of granting and seeking forgiveness. The evolutionary foundations and the developmental substrate of these capacities are elucidated. An individual who fails to make certain intrapsychic achievements may be vulnerable to psychopathological development, as is evident in those who cannot forgive or forgive too readily, constantly or never seek others' forgiveness, cannot accept forgiveness, or show an imbalance between their capacities to forgive themselves and to forgive others. The relevance of various developmental and phenomenological concepts to psychoanalytic technique, including the patient's need to forgive and to be forgiven, is also discussed.

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