The literature review in the presentation gives a compelling argument for the value of forgiveness.
What the method does contain seems to be a bit broader concept of change. Franz Alexander et al. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences. It is of secondary importance whether this corrective experience takes place during treatment in the transference relationship, or parallel with the treatment in the daily life of the patient.
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Reed and Enright describes them well:. Second, Seagull and Seagull described an obstacle to recovery for emotionally abused women labeled accusatory suffering, which entails maintaining resentment and victim status.
The assumption in accusatory suffering is that healing the wounds of the abuse will somehow let the perpetrator off the hook. Seagull and Seagull argued that although accusatory suffering resentment and victim status may function as a temporary strategy to help the woman adapt to the extreme experience of spousal emotional abuse, it seriously hinders substantial post-relationship, post-crisis recovery. Therefore, any treatment for these women should demonstrate a change in victim status. The risk of attempting forgiveness prematurely potentially could lock in place both a sense of helplessness and personal responsibility.
Reed and Enright continues:. During the forgiveness process, the client does the hard work of uncovering anger and shame, grieving the undeserved pain from the abuse, and reframing the former partner personal history, fallibility, and culpability, yet inherent human worth , with the purpose of relinquishing debilitating resentment.
The anger and resentment serves to both motivate the client to face her fears and change their circumstances, while protecting her sense of self from her underlying feeling of responsibility for having allowed the abuse and her own aggressive impulses to avenge their mistreatment. If the resentment is released prematurely, before the shame has been recognized and resolved, the client may be left will little emotional energy to move beyond self-loathing.
From Greenberg and Pascual-Leone :.
Thus, the action tendency to shrink into the ground in shame or to flee in fear is transformed by the tendency to thrust forward as part of newly accessed anger at violation or pride at accomplishment. This sequentially ordered pattern is what actually creates confidence. Consider this clinical description of a woman with possible borderline personality from Bridges who failed to respond with an emotional transformation.
Yet, at no point does she mention that she is angry or even irritated. One of the most surprising and interesting findings was that, on a purely physiological level, venting works! This patient showed an average decrease in heart rate from the beginning to end of each session of at least 18 beats per minute bpm for 9 of 12 sessions. If one were using progressive relaxation or desensitization and focusing only on decreased arousal as a measure, treatment would appear to be going very well indeed.
To make a long lasting change, it is necessary to ferret out all underlying feelings as well. Resentment often defensively covers shame. The positive aspects of anger can be a strong motivator to transform shame into behavior change.
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Until this emotional transformation is complete, forgiveness is premature. Here anger serves as the energy to transform the shame into pride and confidence. Is forgiveness of the offender necessary? That I think depends more on the value system of the client.
I believe an emotional transformation from maladaptive anger and shame to angry determination to make changes through self-encouragement and self-nurturance is the primary driver of recovery from trauma. Many of my clients seem to readily make the transformation from resentment to angry determination. Forgiveness, if it comes at all, comes as a consequence of the primary change, effortlessly, later on, as if part of a unforced natural process. Others feel an obligation to forgive and do so as a part of recovery. Unfortunately, too many go through a forgiveness process before they have made an emotional transformation.
I find myself trying to encourage them to back track to their anger, which they thought they got over, so they can finally forgive themselves. However, given the acutity of the population I work with in a short term intensive program, there is probably little utility for full blown group forgiveness therapy. But at the very least I will be much more comfortable with a clients request that they wish to learn to forgive their victimizer.
References Alexander, F. Whether you are here to see one of our grandstand shows almost all now have some free seating with fair admission , taste some of the delicious fair food, watch an incredible lion and tiger show or take a spin on one of our all new rides, we look forward to you making family memories that will last a lifetime. Watch as Fireworks light the sky on Friday Nights!
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