The “Self Forgiveness” Article by Julie & Frank Research Paper

December 31, 2021 by Essay Writer

Summary of the article

Self forgiveness can be defined as the state of being at peace or of goodwill to the self and free from self hatred and loath resulting from hurting another. Psychology literature however defines self-forgiveness as “a willingness to abandon self–resentment in the face of one’s own acknowledged objective wrong, while fostering compassion, generosity, and love toward oneself.” (Julie, 2005). Self-forgiveness is normally achieved through stages. The first stage has the individual going through an uncovering phase. The second stage is decision phase which is then followed with the work phase and finally the outcome phase.

Interpersonal forgiveness can be defined as a process where one tends to replace destructive responses with constructive behavior. In both, reproach is directed towards the offender. The set of forgiveness share a lot of common grounds and differences. The similarities include the fact that they both take time to be achieved and both include forgiveness of actions that one do not deserve to be forgiven but they are forgiven nonetheless.

These two types of forgiveness also differ in regard to reconciliation. Interpersonal forgiveness does not regard reconciliation with the offender while the self-forgiveness reconciliation with the self is necessary Julie (2005). Considering this, it can be concluded that self reconciliation occurs through self-forgiveness meaning that the impacts of not forgiving the self typically will be worse than interpersonal forgiveness. Other than the similarities and the differences, the two types of forgiveness relate to each other as self-forgiveness facilitates interpersonal forgiveness, this is through allowance of one to identify with one’s offender. Self-forgiveness comes before interpersonal forgiveness since one cannot forgive others if they cannot forgive themselves (James, 2001).

Self-forgiveness can be viewed in two ways in regard to injury. One may forgive one’s self for an injury to self or injury to another person. The two are however related since in the pursuit to injure the other, one injures one-self. This then prompts the forgiveness of oneself. It is however important to reiterate that the forgiveness of self in this case is to the injury caused to the other but not the injury caused to the self as one cannot forgive one for hurting oneself.

To achieve true self-forgiveness however, one must acknowledge that his or her behavior was wrong and then accept responsibility of the behavior perceived as wrong. Pseudo-self forgiveness occurs when one refuses to acknowledge responsibility of a wrong doing, in such case, one may indicate that they have forgiven themselves but then do not believe that they did any wrongdoing, this leads to the form of forgiveness termed pseudo-forgiveness. Whether self-forgiveness is always appropriate is much of a debate since a lot depends on the situation. (James, 2001)

Guilt plays a major role in the emotional determinants of self-forgiveness. The feeling of remorse and empathy towards the victim and acting in a reconciliatory manner may help the transgressor forgiven them. Shame focuses on the self while guilt focuses on the action of the self; this makes the relationship between guilt and self-forgiveness less strong as that between shame and self-forgiveness. Socially, one is more likely to be stable while interacting with the external environment after having self-forgiveness than without self forgiveness. Offenders who seek self forgiveness are more likely to seek forgiveness from the offended than the offenders who do not seek self forgiveness. Factors that play a role in self forgiveness can be summarized as the following:

  • Conciliatory behavior
  • Perceived Forgiveness from Victim or Higher Power
  • Severity of the Offense

It is however important to note that the above factors do not form all the determinants of self forgiveness and that there are other factors that may influence self forgiveness. Therefore, it is critical for one to identify appropriate methods of measuring self forgiveness.

In a wrap up, self forgiveness is as important as is interpersonal forgiveness and should as such be accorded equal attention in terms of literature and research.


The article has a lot of insights in regard to self-forgiveness. It is interesting how comprehensive the research was conducted and the extent of reference and consultation that took place in the writing of the article. The article talks about self forgiveness at length and thus my interest in reading it. The research methodology involved in the acquisition of facts that are presented in this article provides the reader with a well faceted view of the topic in concern; self forgiveness.

It has well researched definition and comparisons between other forms of forgiveness and self forgiveness. The most interesting comparison is that between self forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness. Interpersonal forgiveness has recently formed the major pivot of discussion and literature. A lot of literature has been dedicated towards interpersonal forgiveness at the expense of self forgiveness (James, 2001). This has led to neglect in research insofar as self forgiveness is concerned.

The article has also focused on the emotional aspect of self forgiveness with major spotlight on guilt and shame. It is interesting how the article links these two and also isolates them from one another. It was equally interesting to find out that shame is closer to self forgiveness than guilt is. This has opened a whole new angle of research as I was holding a contrary view prior to the reading of this article. The article has inculcated in me the interest to read more related articles especially on shame, guilt and self forgiveness in order of acquire more insight on the relationship of these three(Julie, 2005).


While counseling a spouse who has engaged in infidelity, there are questions that are likely to influence the counseling session. The questions include whether or not the aggressor, in this case the spouse who engaged in infidelity, is ready or not to accept that he or she engaged in the same. If he or she has refused to accept it, the session will then focus on having them appreciate the importance of accepting a wrong doing in order to initiate progress. If they have already accepted having engaged in infidelity, then the session will focus on achieving self forgiveness for the offence.

The spouse should seek redress from the other spouse by informing them on about the infidelity and asking for forgiveness. This will facilitate the process of dealing with the guilt. Achievement of true forgiveness will begin with the spouse accepting that they had engaged in infidelity. This is important in dealing with the shame that comes with memory of the act. If the spouse is willing to interact, he or she will be asked to come with the other spouse for a joint session where the other spouse will be given an opportunity to express their view on the matter. At this point, reconciliation will be achieved.


James, W. (2001). Psychology: The briefer Course. New York: Courier Dover Publications.

Julie, H & Frank, F. (2005). Self-forgiveness: The step child of forgiveness research. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 621-637.

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