The Lived Experience of Forgiveness: Phenomenological and Psychological Perspectives remedies the absence of systematic research on the experience of forgiveness by bringing together the work of five psychologists, one philosopher, and one theologian. The contributors have researched various aspects of forgiveness through interviews and field work, allowing for a clarification of this topic and providing a basis for evaluating the often-contradictory assertions of the existing literature. Edited by Steen Halling, this volume demonstrates the value of careful study of human experience by examining forgiveness in its various manifestations within a phenomenological framework that strives to set aside and question presuppositions—whether they be religious, philosophical, or psychological—and look at phenomena with fresh eyes. This approach enables a more creative and productive dialogue among the disciplines of psychology, theology, and philosophy, with experience as a common reference point, and thereby leads to a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of forgiveness.
Steen Halling is professor emeritus of psychology at Seattle University and a licensed psychologist.
Introduction by Steen Halling
Part 1: Forgiving the Other
Chapter 1: Shame, Vulnerability, and the Journey to Forgiveness by Milo Milburn
Chapter 2: Transformative Forgiveness: The Lived Experience of Forgiving the Unforgivable by Gabriela Mihalache
Chapter 3: ‘Moving on’: Wrestling with Forgiveness in Post-genocide Rwanda by Anne Kubai
Chapter 4: Forgiving and Transcendence: On the Importance of Phenomenological Inquiry by Steen Halling
Part 2: Self-Forgiveness and Self-Acceptance
Chapter 5: Self-Forgiveness: The Misunderstood and Elusive Phenomena by Steen Halling
Chapter 6: The Lived Experience of Self-forgiveness in Psychotherapy by Irene Bowman
Part 3: Dialogue with Philosophy through Experience
Chapter 7: Phenomenology of Forgiveness in Education by Peter Costello
Chapter 8: Suffering through Pain to Passage: Forgiving our Mothers and Ourselves by Claire LeBeau
Conclusion by Steen Halling
This book is an important, timely, and unique contribution to the understanding of forgiveness. The authors of this collection follow a phenomenological approach to human science research, enabling them to disclose forgiveness as an existential phenomenon. It will be of interest to a wide range of scholars and a must read for any psychologist.
In a world of increased cancellation, there couldn’t be a more perfect timing for The Lived Experience of Forgiveness: Phenomenological and Psychological Perspectives. Steen Halling and his colleagues offer a solid exposure to human science empiricism in their rigorous exploration of different kinds of forgiveness, as they are plural. They explore personal, interpersonal, and international challenges of forgiveness, including the often forgotten and very difficult situations of self-forgiveness and encounters with the unforgivable. This book, as an example of phenomenological research, avoids both shying away from the topic—thinking it should the left to the theologians—and misinformed definitions of forgiveness that halt conversations before they really begin. Instead, this text offers us openings of various kinds through an empiricism of a particular kind of pain that often ossifies in interminable sorrow and resentment. No syrupy prescriptions to “just look on the bright side of life” here; just courageous writers in the pit, exploring a seemingly insurmountable event. Use this text to teach about phenomenology, about hard places in existence, and simply to heal.