Self-Forgiveness: the Stepchild of Forgiveness Research Article Review

Self-Forgiveness: the Stepchild of Forgiveness Research


The concept of interpersonal forgiveness has been drawing much attention in the society in the recent decades. Since 1985, the interest in the studies related to that topic has significantly increased and continues growing with a miraculous speed. Thus, burgeoning literature has showed not much interest in it. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to review the article “Self-Forgiveness: the Stepchild of Forgiveness Research” published by Julie H. Hall and Frank D. Fincham.

The article starts with the definitions of what self-forgiveness is; these definitions are mainly based on self-love, self-respect, and removing oneself from wrongdoing. This is a kind of relationship that is related to constructive behavior; the main motivation here is about acting benevolently towards oneself. It is connected with feelings, situations, and thoughts, not only certain condition of an individual.

Thus, the writers clearly differentiate the concepts of interpersonal forgiveness and self-forgiveness by comparing them. They speak about the common features and similarities between them as these two concepts imply processes that unfold over time; thus, the concepts of interpersonal forgiveness and self-forgiveness should be studied separately from “forgetting”. Thus, the differences are related to the correlation between victim and self as well as different consequences of unforgiveness and other things.

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Other important notions that are discussed in the article are related to understanding whether self-forgiveness might be an injury to a person, as sometimes the concept might be used together with different rules, the existence of pseudo-forgiveness and level of its appropriateness. The authors introduce the model of self-forgiveness that includes such components as guilt, shame, attributions, conciliatory behavior, perception of forgiveness that comes from another side or victim, and the offences’ severity. Thus, the model has certain limitations as there are some facilitators of self-forgiveness. The authors finish their article by providing additional ideas for further research and concluding that it would be beneficial to study deeper the matter of self-forgiveness.


First, I must state that after reading the abovementioned article, I changed my perception of self-forgiveness and its main components. Moreover, I have understood why it is so important in terms of interpersonal transgression and that sometimes it might be an injury or become unreal; then, it is called pseudo-forgiveness.

It was interesting for me to find out that self-forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness actually differ; they both have similar motivations, but the levels and areas they affect are not the same. Self-forgiveness creates motivation that is about change, but this cannot be applied to interpersonal forgiveness as it is permanent and unconditional.

It was rather informative for me to read about pseudo self-forgiveness. Thereafter, the true forgiveness comes only after an individual understands that he or she really did something wrong. In other cases, the pseudo self-forgiveness might happen, as the person did not take the responsibility and did not acknowledge the wrongdoing. Regret and guilt come prior to self-forgiveness. Pseudo self-forgiveness actually does not yield any positive outcomes.

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Another interesting discussion that really has impressed me was related to the model of self-forgiveness. The model cannot focus on both interpersonal and intrapersonal transgressions, but it is definitely good for the former. The first component is guilt that fosters many different emotions and attitudes towards the victim, and I totally agree with that. It was interesting for me to find out that there exists a negative correlation between self-forgiveness and shame. I was shocked to find out that those offenders who have forgiven themselves were more apologetic towards the victims or their relative in comparison to those who did not forgive themselves. In conclusion, I might state that the article is extremely profound operating the facts from the previous researches, presenting another useful data, and suggesting new approaches (Hall and Fincham, 2005).

Application of the Article

If I were to apply the following study in practice, I would definitely use lots of important information out of it. The study is consistent and provides enough relevant supportive facts needed for coaching sessions. Thereafter, the third part of the following paper will be concentrated on an “imaginary” coaching session that is to be given to a prisoner and is related to the issue of unforgiveness.

“First of all, this is important to mention that all people commit sins, and there is no one perfect in this world. Thus, the society creates certain norms breaking which might result in very severe consequences. However, the first step that would help you to forgive yourself is understanding your guilt. I am not actually asking you to repeat what you have told in court to the judge when you have agreed that you committed a robbery, but be truthful to yourself. Yes, I mean that you have done a wrong choice; it actually seemed right at that time, but eventually it turned to be not so. You might experience guilt, but it is normal as what you did was relevant at that time, but now you know that it was wrong and you should have avoided it. You have to realize that it was a wrongdoing. Yes, you might feel ashamed, but this is Ok as you are a normal person who sees the things bad when they are bad, aren’t you? You should take an effort and try to prove that you can love yourself and shall not punish yourself any longer for the wrongdoing that occurred before. You need to accept that it was just a wrong choice, and all you have to do is to forgive yourself. Moreover, this will help you to clean your heart and soul so that you can prove to yourself that you can make a right choice next time”.

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