Forgiveness and Mental Health

by | Apr 28, 2004 | Psychology & Living

A reader writes in, taking issue with Dr. Hurd’s contention that forgiving the unforgivable (e.g. snipers, drunk driving) is neither noble nor healthy: Forgiving someone who committed a crime against you after they have served their sentence and you have had time to cope with the effects of it is noble, praiseworthy and one of […]

A reader writes in, taking issue with Dr. Hurd’s contention that forgiving the unforgivable (e.g. snipers, drunk driving) is neither noble nor healthy:

Forgiving someone who committed a crime against you after they have served their sentence and you have had time to cope with the effects of it is noble, praiseworthy and one of the most difficult things in the world to do.

I suppose this means we should forgive Osama bin Laden for 9/11, once he has served his sentence (whatever that is, and assuming he’s ever caught) and we have had time to “cope” with the effects of it all. I suppose victims of the D.C. sniper should likewise forgive (and release?) their loved ones’ killers once “sufficient time” has passed? Baloney! Forgiving the unforgivable gives aid and comfort to the evil. If anything is worse than the evil itself, this is. Forgiving increases the likelihood that they’ll do it again, and empowers other evil people to think they can get away with their actions.

Forgiving the unforgivable is also psychologically unhealthy. It involves engaging in a state of denial about what really happened. The conventional wisdom is that to eschew forgiveness is to live your life in unresolved, bitter hatred. Actually, the opposite is true. If you accept that the unforgivable is in fact unforgivable, you come to terms with reality and move on. Those who wallow in platitudes about turning the other cheek are the ones who deny reality and pay the psychological price.

Is forgiving the unforgivable one of the most difficult things in the world to do? On this point, I agree with you. Turning a blind eye to the truth is never an easy, nor advisable, thing to do. Shame on you for suggesting it.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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