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The Effects Of Forgiveness On Mental Health

2471 words - 10 pages

Forgiveness has been defined in many ways by psychologists and researchers with no one universal definition. Hill (as cited in Maltby, Day and Mackaskill 2001) state that it is widely agreed that forgiveness involves a willingness to abandon resentment, negative judgement and indifferent behaviour towards the person who has hurt them Although research is recent, from the last 15 years, it has helped develop our understanding of forgiveness . Research has shown that forgiveness gives positive mental health and prevents the development of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and stress. Two major models of forgiveness are Enright’s model and Worthington’s (2001) pyramid model to REACH forgiveness. Both these models involve steps and processes we go through in order to reach forgiveness. Individual differences are also taken into consideration such as personality traits such as the big 5 and narcissism which helps our understanding of why some individuals forgive and others do not and why as a result some individuals have poorer mental health as they are unable to forgive. This essay will therefore argue that the process and structural models have helped our understanding of forgiveness in terms of individual differences and mental health as they have shown steps we need to go through to reach forgiveness and research has additionally shown that those who do not forgive have poorer mental health. Furthermore it has shown that individual differences affect whether people can forgive or not taking into account personality traits.
A process model of forgiveness is Enright’s model. Originally this involved seventeen stages incorporating cognitive, affective and behavioural elements (Enright and the human development group 1991) The model was developed into 20 stages involving 4 phases. The uncovering phase is the first where the individual will examine consider forgiveness is needed in order to move on to the next stages. In the work phase the individual will feel empathy toward the offender. Finally in the deepening phase involves awareness of decreased negative affect, maybe an increase in positive affect. This model was proposed to promote forgiveness in individuals and was developed from empirical research. If forgiveness can be given this will improve an individual’s mental health as the model suggests and empirical evidence proves support this from a series of studies which had consistent findings to support the argument that forgiveness does indeed give improved mental health.
Hebl and Enright (1993) conducted a study on elderly females who had suffered from various injusticies such as spousal conflict and overmedication to show forgiveness can be induced and with therapeutic goals. Further findings come from Coyle and Enright (1997) who used a forgiveness intervention on males who had been hurt by a partners abortion who found forgiveness lead to reductions in anger, anxiety and grief, therefore forgiving does have a positive effect on...

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