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Empathetic Repair after Mass Trauma: When Vengeance is Arrested.

Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) European Journal of Social Theory. 11(3):331-350.

This article explores the phenomenon of empathy and examines its manifestation
in the context of encounters between victims/survivors of gross human
rights violations and perpetrators who are perceived by victims/survivors as
showing signs of remorse. The article considers the factors that mediate the
development of empathy through, on the one hand, the examination of
the external dynamics of victim-perpetrator encounters, and on the other, the
analysis of the intrapsychic dynamics of these encounters. The article argues
that the defining elements of empathic experience emerge within the relational,
intersubjective realm of the victim-perpetrator encounter. The article
engages an interdisciplinary dialogue between Emmanuel Levinas’ ethics of
responsibility for ‘the Other’ and a psychoanalytic conceptualization of the
capacity for empathy. It asserts that the emotional state of empathy shared
by victims and perpetrators is a result of a pivotal turn to perspective taking
and gaining an integrated view of the other. The article concludes that
‘empathic repair’ is a useful concept for understanding the process of forgiveness
in the context of gross human rights violations. (author’s abstract)


AbstractPost-Conflict ReconciliationRJ in Schools
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