Addressing Moderate Interpersonal Hatred Before Addressing Forgiveness in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Proposed Model

Psychological Exploration


This paper addresses the problem of pressure on a person to forgive that often makes forgiveness impossible or superficial. It proposes that clients who are unwilling or unable to forgive can still be encouraged to let go of interpersonal hatred because it is psychologically harmful to them. The issue of forgiving the person toward whom the hatred is directed can be treated more easily later, after the hatred has been removed or at least much reduced. The present theoretical approach distinguishes between anger and hatred; it provides a brief understanding of the origin of hatred from an object relations perspective with a focus on splitting. The emphasis is on moderate interpersonal hatred, since severe hatred raises special difficulties. The question of when a person has sufficient freedom to let go of moderate hatreds is addressed. This is followed by identifying reasons why people enjoy hatred, and how hatred provides some short-term psychological rewards. Finally, different psychological harms caused by hatred are identified. Overcoming interpersonal hatred by praying for those you hated is presented; the effect of such prayer on reducing splitting is especially noted. The conclusion is a descriptive summary of stages to be used in treating clients’ hatreds before addressing forgiveness.


Interpersonal hatred Self-harm Forgiveness Hatred Moderate interpersonal hatred Splitting Anger Prayer Psychotherapy model 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Paul C. Vitz declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Psychological SciencesDivine Mercy UniversityArlingtonUSA

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