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Forgiving and Not Forgiving Paperback – November 7, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarpPeren (November 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380794713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380794713
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A useful, intellectually and rhetorically nuanced work." -- --Kirkus Reviews

"A wonderfully readable book...nuggets of wisdom to be found on every page." -- --Maggie Scarf

About the Author

Jeanne Safer, Ph.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than twenty years. She has written articles for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Utne Reader, Self, New Woman, and many other publications, and is the author of Beyond Motherhood, Choosing a Life Without Children. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 59 people found the following review helpful By David B Richman on October 6, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book that helped me more than anything else when I was struggling with whether or not I could forgive my mother for her anger, self-absorption, and need to control. At a time when clergy, therapists, and the lay community are urging forgiveness as an all-purpose cure for every troubled relationship, Safer counsels caution. Not forgiving can be as moral and healing in some situations as forgiving can be in others, she says.
Safer is certainly not against genuine forgiveness, nor does she approve of vengefulness. Her concern is that people are rushed into a dishonest façade of forgiveness when they do not truly feel it. True forgiveness, she believes, takes time and is only partially under your conscious control. She also believes that not forgiving, when an action genuinely offends your moral sense, and the perpetrator has shown no remorse nor made any effort to change, is a an honest and moral choice.
What is most important to Safer, and she illustrates it with many examples, is a serious attempt to engage with your feelings about the relationship in question and to admit the ways in which you may have contributed to it. Only such honesty can lead to a healthy outcome, but what a healthy outcome is differs for each person and situation. She also stresses that forgiveness and non-forgiveness are not opposites; they are points along a continuum, and there are many points in between. Each individual must decide what is right for him or her, and any counselor who urges a particular and predetermined result does the client a disservice.
I recommend this book (which is clearly and interestingly written) to anyone who is struggling with forgiveness, or simply interested in it.
Lynda Goin (David B. Richman's wife)
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on May 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
After years of hurt from a family member I decided I has enough. The rest of my family told me "to get over it". They were sending me articles that I was only hurting myself by being angry and I should forgive and forget. This book was a validation of my feelings that you can sometimes go to far. It really has helped me. I will read this again in another year or two and maybe get more out of it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Carl on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some years ago, some work colleagues betrayed me. I had helped their professional development, but they did what I considered were cruel things to me at work. I was angry at their betrayal and told them I wanted nothing more to do with them. I am now less angry but still have nothing to do with them. But should I forgive and forget their betrayal, for that is the 'divine' thing to do according to some religionists? That question drove me to read Dr Jeanne Safer's "Forgiving and Not forgiving". It was a valuable read.

Psychotherapist Safer's book is based on her own experience of gradual forgiveness of her father's betrayal and on indepth interviews with fifty others. Essentially, she finds that forgiveness is a gradual journey from anger to understanding that usually never completely ends, and involves continuing cycles through the three elements of (page 50:
1 re-engagement with the experience of the betrayal (that is, not forgetting it)
2 recognition of its emotional impact
3 reinterpretation of the betrayal on me and the others to provide a deeper understanding of it (for example, the others' ignorance of what they were doing.

One of Safer's points is that the processes of forgiveness do NOT HAVE to end in "unconditional love" towards the betrayers with the relationship with them restored in some form; this ending may be needed in family relationships that are the main concern of the book, and is probably needed in many work situations where the betrayer and the betrayer simply have to continue working together. But the ending can also be "positive indifference" with the relationship NOT restored at all (like my own current ending).
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