The Forgiving Self

The Forgiving Self

The Road from Resentment to Connection

By Robert Karen

Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780385488747, 304pp.

Publication Date: July 8, 2003


Why do we harden our hearts, even against those we want to love? Why do we find it so hard to admit being wrong? Why are the worst grudges the ones we hold against ourselves? Using movies, people in the news, and sessions from his practice, psychologist and award- winning author Robert Karen illuminates the struggle between our wish to repair our relationships on one side and our tendency to see ourselves as victims who want revenge on the other.

When we nurse our resentments, Karen says, we are acting from an insecure aspect of the self that harbors unresolved pain from childhood. But we also have a forgiving self which is not compliant or fake, but rather the strongest, most loving part of who we are. Through it, we are able to voice anger without doing damage, to acknowledge our own part in what has gone wrong, to see the flaws in ourselves and others as part of our humanity.

Karen demonstrates how we can move beyond our feelings of being wronged without betraying our legitimate anger and need for repair. The forgiving self, when we are able to locate it, brings relief from compulsive self-hatred and bitterness, and allows for a re-emergence of love.

About the Author
Robert Karen is a clinical psychologist in private practice and an award-winning author. In addition to two previous books, he has written articles for The Atlantic, New York magazine, Mirabella, The Nation, and The Yale Review. He is Assistant Clinical Professor at the Derner Institute of
Advance Psychological Studies, Adelphi University.

Praise For The Forgiving Self

“To make forgiveness interesting—to make it worth thinking about again—is the real boon of Karen’s book” —Adam Phillips, author of On Flirtation and Houdini’s Box

“Tackles the core questions that have preoccupied thinkers about human behavior through the ages . . . .Fascinating and important.” —Paul Wachtel, author of Pyschoanalysis & Behavior Therapy

“Robert Karen is one of our smartest and most accessible guides to the world of psychoanalytic theory and research.” –Elle Magazine

“Looks through the lens of forgiveness into the heart of what can go wrong in relationships . . . gets into the guts of what it is like to feel wronged and bear grudges and to suffer with feelings that seem hateful and shameful.”—Lucinda Steig, Faculty, National Institute for the Psychotherapies

“A deeply moving book, psychologically sophisticated, beautifully written, and personally inspiring.” —Lewis Aron, Director, Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherappy and Pyschoanalysis, New York University.