Forgiveness in PTSD After Man-Made Traumatic Events: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Forgiveness has proven to be beneficial for the physical and mental health of individuals. In sufferers of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after man-made traumatic events, it is often believed to have a positive effect to forgive the transgressor. This systematic review identifies and presents a summary of the literature into the association of symptoms of PTSD with forgiveness after man-made traumatic events. The bibliography databases EMBASE, PubMed/Medline, PsycInfo, PsycExtra, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The review shows significant differences between individual studies regarding the type of trauma, the setting, the forgiveness concept, and the measurement instruments used for PTSD and forgiveness. Only 1 study could not establish a significant correlation between forgiveness and PTSD symptoms. The other studies found that higher forgiveness levels were associated with lower PTSD-related symptoms scores, but other factors have to be taken into account, as demographic variables, the relationship between transgressor and survivor of trauma, the type and severity of trauma, and other variables were also shown to be relevant.

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