On Apology

Front Cover
One of the most profound interactions that can occur between people, apologies have the power to heal humiliations, free the mind from deep-seated guilt, remove the desire for vengeance, and ultimately restore broken relationships. In On Apology, Aaron Lazare offers an eye-opening analysis ofthis vital interaction, illuminating an often hidden corner of the human heart.Why do people apologize? Why is it so difficult to apologize? Why do some apologies heal while others fail--and even offend? Is it ever too late to apologize? Is the ability to apologize a sign of strength or weakness? In what ways are public apologies different from private ones? What is therelationship of apology to forgiveness? Lazare answers all these questions in this fascinating volume. Indeed, the author offers a wide-ranging dissection of the apology. He discusses the importance of shame, guilt, and humiliation, the timelessness of emotional pain, the initial reluctance toapologize, the simplicity of the act of apologizing, the spontaneous generosity and forgiveness on the part of the offended, the transfer of power and respect between two parties, and much more. Throughout, the author looks not only at individuals but also at groups and nations--for instance,Abraham Lincoln's apology for slavery, the German government's apology to the victims of World War II, and the U.S. government's apology to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Readers will thus find not only a wealth of insight that they can apply to their own lives, but also a deeperunderstanding of national and international conflicts and how we might resolve them.Everyone has the opportunity to apologize now and then. On Apology opens a window onto this common occurrence to reveal the feelings and actions at the heart of this profound interaction.

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About the author (2004)

Aaron Lazare, M.D., is Chancellor and Dean, and Professor of Psychiatry, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester, Massachusetts and Senior Psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He was formerly Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is aleading authority on the psychology of shame and humiliation, and wrote a highly regarded article on apology in Psychology Today that led to appearances on "Oprah," "Talk of the Nation," and many other TV and radio shows.

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