, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 373-402

First online:

Punishment and Forgiveness: A Phenomenological Analysis of Archetypal Leadership Patterns and the Implications for Educational Practice

  • Neil Remington AbramsonAffiliated withSegal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University Email author 
  • , Yaroslav SenyshynAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

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Archetypal psychology suggests the possibility of a punishment archetype representing the unconscious preferences of human beings as a species about what constitutes appropriate ways for leaders (students, teachers and educational leaders) to correct followers who do harm to others. Mythological analysis compared God’s process of punishment, in the Abraham myth, with the theories of Scheler (1973), Kierkegaard (1987) and modern management theory about punishment. While modern theory focused on a contingent tit-for-tat relationship between doing harm and reprisal for it, God used punishment and forgiveness to reestablish effective moral relationships between the harm-doer and the harmed persons. God always forgave harm done to himself, and generally punished harm done to others but then forgave unilaterally, without waiting for Abraham to improve. If students and educators are unconsciously predisposed to expect that punishment is a long term educational activity intended to allow the harm-doer to atone, repent and re-establish effective working relationships with harmed persons, then the focus of modern punishment theory on intimidation will be ineffective and generate unconscious resistance.


Punishment forgiveness archetype repentance leadership unconscious Abraham Jung Scheler Kierkegaard redemption