Reconciliation as compromise and the management of rage

Peter Zachar

in Trauma, Truth and Reconciliation

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780198569435
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754449 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Reconciliation as compromise and the management of rage

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There is considerable overlap between individual psychotherapy for trauma-based disorders and truth and reconciliation commissions. In the case of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), this overlap is reflected in how the commission was described by its proponents. I am specifically referring to the proponents’ reliance on language drawn from psychotherapy to justify the work of the commission. In addition to terms such as victim and perpetrator, the commission's proponents used language such as unfinished business, overcoming denial, coming to terms, resolving issues, and healing (TRC, 1998; Rotberg, 2000; Villa-Vicencio, 2000b).

Going beyond shared metaphors for truth commissions and psychotherapy, I will argue that a legitimate purpose of TRCs is to manage both individual and societal rage and that the experience of rage is related to a desire for justice. The types of justice I will discuss include restorative justice, retributive justice, and distributive justice. In combination with both psychological resources for managing rage and preferences for deontological, consequentialist, and virtue ethics approaches to morality, these models of justice influence one's beliefs about the value of truth commissions.

Chapter.  6360 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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