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Remorse, Forgiveness, and Rehumanization: Stories from South Africa

Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 42(1): 7-32.

This article explores forgiveness and remorse in the context of gross human rights violations. The discussion focuses on encounters between victims and perpetrators who appeared before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An apology offered by Eugene de Kock, the apartheid government’s chief assassin, is presented to explore how a remorseful apology can contribute to a vocabulary of forgiveness in the context of evil.The discussion examines victims’ empathy and forgiveness for perpetrators as a consequence of what is termed the paradox of remorse. It is argued that genuine remorse humanizes perpetrators and transforms their evil from the unforgivable into something that can be forgiven. Author’s abstract.


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