SBCPS – South Bay Reading and Discussion Group July


Barclay, D. (2020). An Analyst Has a Birthday - Can Forgiveness Heal? Psychoanal. Dial., 30:19-31.

Davies, J. M. (2020). The Forgiver and the Forgiven: A Discussion of “An Analyst Has a Birthday — Can Forgiveness Heal?” Psychoanal. Dial., 30: 32-38.

Hirsch, I. (2020). Forgiveness — It Depends: A Discussion of “An Analyst Has a Birthday — Can Forgiveness Heal?” Psychoanal. Dial., 30: 39-43 

Barclay, D. (2020). Hope and Forgiveness: Reply to Davies and Hirsch. Psychoanal. Dial., 30:47-50.

BACKGROUND READING (OPTIONAL) to be purchased if desired:

Wiesenthal, S. (1969). The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York: Random House.

logoIn this ensemble of articles, Barclay, Davies and Hirsch take up the idea of forgiveness in treatment — each from their own theoretical and personal perspective. Barclay begins with a patient’s explicit question: “Will I have to forgive to be able to move on in my life?” — the underlying issue circulating in all three articles —and raises the theoretical question whether forgiveness is a useful and/or legitimate psychoanalytic concept.

If so, is it a necessary strand of the therapeutic action for healing trauma? Both Barclay and Davies make explicit the important distinction between forgiveness as an internal process of the offended/traumatized party versus forgiveness as an inherently two-person process. In other words, does forgiveness require an in vivo experience with the offending other — or can the offended party forgive in absentia — in the absence of the perpetrating other without recognition, repentance or some form of reparation? In addition, each of the authors considers whether some traumas are inherently unforgiveable as well as forgiveness’s role as a possible compromise formation that keeps the victim from fully experiencing her helplessness and/or aggression. Based on her relational perspective, Barclay maintains that the therapist can stand in for the offender within the transference-countertransference dynamic which has the potential to revitalize the original trauma — a position which is illustrated by a clinical case. Davies also addresses the above questions and adds her own object relational/multiple self-states perspective by focusing on: Who within the patient (which dissociated self- state) is the forgiver and Who within the offending other is being forgiven. In addition, Davies raises the important issue of self-forgiveness which is theoretically grounded in Fairbairn’s claim that abused children often blame themselves in order to maintain their connection to the parent-qua-primary attachment figure (Fairbairn’s moral defense).

Julie Gerhardt, PhD



July 24th, 2020 7:00 PM
Online via Zoom
United States
Event Fee(s)
Admission $ 15.00