Social Indicators Research

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 121–132 | Cite as

Unconditional Forgiveness, Reconciliation Sentiment, and Mental Health Among Victims of Genocide in Rwanda

Article

Abstract

The study assessed the relationships between mental health (loss, anxiety and depression), reconciliation sentiment (intra personal and interpersonal reconciliation sentiment), and dispositional forgiveness (lasting resentment, sensitivity to circumstances and unconditional forgiveness) among Rwandese survivors of the 1994 genocide. A sample of 72 females and 29 males living in the southern province of Rwanda, primary victims of the genocide (widows or children of killed people), was presented with questionnaires measuring these constructs. As hypothesized, (a) a strong, positive association was found between interpersonal reconciliation sentiment (trust and cooperation) and unconditional forgiveness, and (b) no significant associations were found between interpersonal reconciliation sentiment and the other two factors of the forgivingness construct: lasting resentment and sensitivity to circumstances. This pattern of associations was consistent with the view that, owing to the current situation in Rwanda where very few perpetrators have directly apologized, the only way for the victims to achieve a state of forgiveness is through unconditionally forgiving the people who harmed them.

Keywords

Reconciliation sentiment Mental health Forgivingness Rwanda Genocide 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National University of RwandaButareRwanda
  2. 2.Institute of Advanced Studies (EPHE)ParisFrance
  3. 3.PlaisanceFrance

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