Working through psychological needs following transgressions to arrive at self-forgiveness

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Moral failure—transgressing against moral codes and values, and hurting others or oneself—implies several psychological threats to self, specifically to one’s need for personal agency, moral identity, and social belonging. Self-forgiveness is an effortful process that may address these needs, not by diminishing the failure, but rather through acceptance of failure and responsibility, and their integration into oneself. Though this path may be psychologically taxing, it allows offenders to restore their relationship with the victim and their place within the broader community in a way that is empowering rather than defensive. In this chapter, we discuss the psychological threats that arise when we commit transgressions, particularly the underlying threats to the needs for moral-social identity and agency. We discuss how taking responsibility for misdeeds is a first step to processing these needs, and we identify barriers to responsibility-taking. We conclude by exploring ways of reducing these barriers, including value reaffirmation, as a means of moving toward self-forgiveness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Self-Forgiveness
    Place of PublicationSwitzerland
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319605739
    ISBN (Print)9783319605722
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Self-Forgiveness
    • moral-social identity
    • responsibility


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