PJ Media

Is Forgiveness always the Answer?

I made the mistake of catching the last few minutes of the ema href=”http://www.drphil.com/”Dr. Phil/a/em Show today. Normally, I would have turned the channel, but Dr. Phil was in a prison talking with a girl, Brandi, about why she ran down and killed her boyfriend. The psychologist (and voyeur) in me stayed glued to the set to see what this killer had to say. The a href=”http://www.drphil.com/shows/show/594/”synopis of the show/a was as follows: br /br /blockquoteBrandi was just 17 years old when she hit and killed her estranged high school boyfriend Daniel. She did it with her parents’ car that she snuck out earlier that night. She says it was an accident, but Daniel’s family disagrees. They say she purposely ran their son down in a fit of rage./blockquote br /br /The victim’s mother a href=”http://www.drphil.com/shows/show/594″says the following:/a br /br /blockquote”Let me tell you some things that she said to us,” says Dr. Phil. “She said, ‘There is no way Brandi could not have known that she hit him. She said that he jumped in front of the car, but Daniel would have known better than that. There is no doubt in my mind that this was intentional. There is nothing you could ever say to bring my son back. You don’t realize the pain that you have caused our family. And I could never ever forgive her. She got a break in court, a slap on the wrist.’br /br /”‘We were told that it was going to be first degree murder with no chance of parole. And then she only got 12 years. Every time we entered the courtroom, we were ridiculed. Brandi said, “He got what he deserved.” I will never have any grandchildren from Daniel. I will never see my son graduate from high school. I will never see him get married. I think her mother is a piss-poor mother. I don’t care how much I love my child, I would never lie for him. She has ruined our lives.’ What do you say to that?” /blockquotebr / br /Well, Dr. Phil says the family of the victim should forgive the killer–and her family. This is the only way they will make peace with themselves. The victim’s sister gives Dr. Phil a look of disgust and says, “We will never forgive Brandi.” Dr.Phil insists that forgiveness is the only solution that will make the pain go away. It’s no wonder that people think psychologists are a bunch of self-righteous ninnies who are one brick short of a load when it comes to common sense. It seems to me forgiveness in this case is just another name for a “get this girl out of jail free card.” Especially since the conversation from the killer’s parents then turned to “how would Brandi serving all this time really help the situation, after all, the victim is already dead.” I have heard this over and over from attorneys, social workers and family members in the course of when I am doing an evaluation with a defendant who has been charged with murder. Forget about the victim–he/she is long gone and there is no reason the perpetrator should have to be put out too much by spending all that nasty time in prison.br /br /Perhaps Dr. Phil should take some advice from a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Safer#Forgiving_and_not_Forgiving”Jeane Safer, PhD/a, who is the author of a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2path=ASIN/0380794713tag=wwwviolentkicomcamp=1789creative=9325″emForgiving and Not Forgiving: : Why Sometimes It’s Better Not to Forgive./em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0380794713″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Safer#Forgiving_and_not_Forgiving”Safer argues/a in this book that genuine forgiveness is neither easy nor is it always necessary. Carefully choosing not to forgive can also be therapeutic. When this grieving family told Dr. Phil that they chose not to forgive the killer of their son, perhaps he should have kept the therapeutic hype to a minimum–one size does not fit all–and maybe respected their choice, which they’ve had a lot more time to think about than he has. You would think with all the expertise Dr. Phil purports to have, he would know that.