At some level, most patients who are undergoing therapy have issues of revenge and forgiveness to contend with. Mary Sherrill Durham explores the concepts of vengeance, revenge fantasies, and the granting or withholding of forgiveness, as they are manifested to the therapist during treatment. She argues that revenge is usually expressed in one of two ways, and categorizes patients accordingly into two archetypes. The `Exploited - Repressive Individual' is anxious and depressed, and during therapy wishes to retaliate against a parent who has used him or her in an inappropriate and self-serving manner. The `Vindictive Character', on the other hand, has usually been more openly rejected or manipulated and may well suffer from a personality disorder. This character is more likely to act out his or her rage than repress it. Identifying a renewed interest in the topic of forgiveness, the author takes a pragmatic view of its potential for healing and closure, and examines our ambivalent relationship to it. Mary Sherrill Durham draws on her extensive clinical experience to illustrate her arguments, and relates them to society in general. She devotes separate chapters to revenge and forgiveness as they are expressed by children and adolescents, and by offenders. She also examines potential for the therapist/patient relationship to become a re-enactment of an abusive or controlling situation.
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