Dylann Roof, Psychotherapy and the Flight into Forgiveness

Acknowledgment: My thanks to Dr. Cindy Geppert for her helpful comments on an earlier draft of this essay. Thanks as well to Dr. Steve Moffic for his essay, and for his comments on some aspects of this piece.

**Note: Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D., makes an interesting distinction between forgiveness, which he defines as “the refusal to hurt the one who hurt you,” and reconciliation, which he describes as “…a larger process of which forgiveness is but one part.” In partial contrast, I am using the term “forgiveness” in a broader sense that overlaps with Richmond’s concept of reconciliation. See:

1. Beam A:
3. Swan R: Why it’s OK to forgive Dylann Roof.
4. Telushkin J: The Book of Jewish Values. New York, Bell Tower, 2000
6. Pies RW, Geppert C: Ethical Issues in the Psychiatric Treatment of the Religious ‘Fundamentalist’ Patient. Medscape March 19, 2013. Accessed at:
7. Pies R: “Jewish and Rabbinic Perspectives on Psychiatric Ethics.” In: The Oxford Handbook of Psychiatric Ethics, Volume 1 Edited by John Z. Sadler, Bill Fulford, and Cornelius Werendly van Staden. Online publication October, 2014.
8. 8. Moffic HS: Another Great Moment in Forgiveness History
9. Staik A: Four Approaches to Forgiveness, Ranging From ‘Cheap’ to ‘Genuine’
10. Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics, Book IV.

Funeral image available from Shutterstock

Dylann Roof, Psychotherapy and the Flight into Forgiveness

This article originally appeared in:

Psychiatric Times

It is reprinted here with permission.

Ronald Pies, MD

Dr. Pies is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine; and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychiatric Times (2007-2010).


APA Reference
Pies, R. (2015). Dylann Roof, Psychotherapy and the Flight into Forgiveness. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2020, from


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Last updated: 4 Aug 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2015
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