Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Orr, R. (Psychology)

Keywords

Psychology, Clinical.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The mental health consequences of both dispositional forgiveness and forgiving one's abusive parents were examined in this study. It was anticipated that dispositional forgiveness would be related to better mental health in a population of adults who sustained childhood abuse. It was also expected that forgiving one's parents for childhood abuse would predict better mental health in adulthood. The results of the study support a conclusion that child abuse survivors purport better mental health (e.g., less anger, anxiety and depression) when they report higher levels of self forgiveness. However, it was found that higher levels of parental forgiveness actually predicted worse mental health (e.g., more anger, anxiety and depression) in abuse survivors. It may be that societal and moral pressure to forgive one's parents resulted in many of the survivors of abuse forgiving their parents before fully recognizing the extent of the abuse, acknowledging the emotional impact of the abuse, and making a conscious decision to let go of the anger association with the abuse (i.e., participating in the process of forgiveness).

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