Forgiveness Is Healing

George Morelli

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

In almost every spiritual text anger is listed as one of several deadly sins. In his classic work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John of the Ladder, (1982) discusses anger in the eighth step of the ladder; and anger's dependent vice malice in the ninth step of the ladder. St. John tells us: "Anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you. Irascibility is an untimely flaring up of the heart. Bitterness is a stirring of the soul's capacity for displeasure. Anger is ... a disfigurement of the soul."

Cognitive Clinical Psychology and Anger

Current research psychology has helped us understand dysfunctional emotions such as anger have a cognitive theme and distorted irrational cognitive structures initiating them (Beck, Shaw & Emery, 1979; Burns, 1980; Ellis, 1962). Beck, for example found the theme of anger is significant intrusion. The angry individual perceives some one has intruded on them or on someone or something they love and possess that he considers to be an extension of himself. The value of what they consider significant is such, that they feel they have a "right" to be angry. This is an exalted state of self-importance by which people define themselves which gives them this "right." It reveals an underlying postulate of self-definition that allows all anger to be justified.

Added to the interpretive perception are evocative cognitive distortions such as selective focusing: disregarding some nice things someone has done while centering on an error they made; mind-reading: concluding, without proof, the reason for someone's improper action was to "get at" the angry person and/or was directed to the person; fortune telling: predicting only unseemly things will happen to you and this will continue in the future; and catastrophizing: evaluating the errors, improper actions and unseemly behaviors of others as more that 100% bad. These distortions enable the individual to create ongoing irrational mental scenarios that fuel the anger emotion. (For further explanation of how these distortions trigger and interact with anger see Morelli, 2005 and 2006b.)

Spiritual Understanding of Significant Intrusion - 'Anger'

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