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How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To Paperback – February 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Abrahms Spring, a clinical psychologist, follows up her bestselling After the Affair with this new self-help manual that aims to provide a better way to forgive or not forgive others. With the assistance of her husband, and in clear, insightful writing, Abrahms Spring draws on many case studies to fully analyze four categories of forgiveness: cheap forgiveness, refusing to forgive, acceptance and genuine forgiveness. The author is convinced that morally and spiritually a person is no more required to forgive an unrepentant offender than he or she is to love him. When someone who has been truly wronged and forgives too easily (cheap forgiveness), that person is not acting in their own best interest, but rather preserving a relationship at any cost. An absolute refusal to forgive Abrahms, Spring posits, is also harmful to the injured person. Although punishing the offender may provide a sense of power, it also fosters negativity and self-isolation. The author advises that when genuine forgiveness is impossible, because the injury is too great or the offender will not apologize, a better decision than holding onto anger is to work through the injury, or acceptance. This healing process will lead to emotional resolution and the ability to move on with one's life. Genuine forgiveness, Abrahms Spring maintains, occurs when both parties negotiate a process during which the hurt person expresses his or her pain, and the offender apologizes and takes responsibility for his or her poor behavior. In the end, this is a thoughtful exposition on the nuanced role of forgiveness in relationships that goes beyond the average self-help book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Spring really shines.... Armed with her insights, offenders and those they’ve offended have hope of recovery.” (Bellingham Herald)
“A truly stellar book putting forgiveness in a new, revealing light and provides clear steps to turn wounds into wisdom.” (Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind)
“This book is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever felt betrayed or hurt by a personal relationship.” (Peggy Papp, author of Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists)
“Clear, insightful…a thoughtful exposition on the nuanced role of forgiveness in relationships that goes beyond the average self-help book.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A fresh and original approach to an ancient challenge.” (Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of Getting the Love You Want)
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This is the only thing that attempts to address the heavy gender bias this decision forced upon an otherwise excellent work on forgiveness. Though it is clear why this decision was made, the basic thrust of the book in it's resulting form is basically a male-bashing book. If you are male and were seriously injured by a psychopathic, narcissistic *female* sociopath, you will need to basically rewrite it into the opposite format and change many of the examples in order to get the gems hidden behind the male-bashing garbage that was basically there only for supposed "convenience" and "readability".
Also, having this book in circulation in it's current format is basically in it's whole male-bashing propaganda. Yes, great I get it... there it is clearly stated on page 10 why it's the way it is... but you know what... those key words lose their holding power in light of story after story about what "he" did. Isn't it a form of abuse to sexually violate someone 500 times, and then say "well I told you I was sorry"? In the same way, to perpetuate 500 offenses of labeling men as perpetrators and females as their victims while saying "I'm sorry I did it this way, the publishers made me do it so it would read better" is no different. One little I'm sorry while continuing 500 offenses is not setting a very good example.
What I think would be a wonderful idea if instead the Author had put out a book, in pink labeled "for her" and another one in the pretty blue cover labeled "for him"... and that it would have been written as women as perpetrators. True, most men wouldn't pickup a self-help book like this, and you wouldn't print as many perhaps, but by doing so it would have been easier to read if you were the male victim of a female perpetrator... as I was.
The other option - which I am sure the publishers considered - was to go with the gender-neutral approach... however I am sure that underlying the reason not to do this was due in large part to who by in large buys the books... women.. not men.
This is why I give this book 1 star, and I would have given it zero stars but it wasn't an option. I basically have to go through and strike through all the "he did to her's" and substitute the opposite to get the value of the book... and that was hard... really hard.
Otherwise, I would give this book five stars if it wasn't so painful to translate into a non-male-bashing edition.
She explains that "acceptance" and "forgiveness" are different things. I don't believe they are. What I understand forgiveness to be is this: 1."Giving up" (getting back to the etymology of the word "forgive") the right to hate and escalating retribution (step 2 in Spring's "acceptance" process) and 2. Recognizing the humanity and fallibility of the other person (step 5 in Spring's "acceptance" process). As long as those two are covered, for me it's forgiveness. Spring can call it what she likes, but I disagree. You don't have to continue the relationship or absolve the guilt of the other person to forgive this way (which she points out, but for some unknown reason thinks this doesn't count as forgiveness).
What she calls "genuine forgiveness" I would call rapprochement, or restoration of harmony. Contrary to Spring's concept, I believe that forgiveness does not need to be interrelational. The establishment of harmony, however, does. One may not choose to reconcile to the violator in the establishment of harmony, but you have allowed him to "make amends" and come to amiable terms with you (you can at least wish well for him). You may never trust him again, but you have released him of his debt.
For me, the true gem of this book lies not in the chapters about healthy responses to offense, but in the chapters about the dysfunctional. Cheap forgiveness is a danger I never previously considered, and Spring offers compelling examples as well as powerful strategies to avoid such self-belittling impulses. I recommend the book, if only for this section.
Also, don't listen to the reviewers complaining about the so-called "sexist" pronoun shorthand for victim and offender ("she" and "he," respectively). It makes the book very readable.