Betrayal Essay

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Betrayal, Rejection, Revenge, and Forgiveness: An Interpersonal Script Approach Julie Fitness Macquarie University Email: In: Leary, M. (Ed.) (2001) Interpersonal rejection (pp. 73-103). New York: Oxford University Press. Acknowledgement: The author acknowledges the support of a Large ARC grant A79601552 in the writing of this chapter. 2 Introduction Throughout recorded human history, treachery and betrayal have been considered amongst the very worst offences people could commit against their kith and kin. Dante, for example, relegated traitors to the lowest and coldest regions of Hell, to be forever frozen up to their necks in a lake of ice with blizzards storming all about them, as punishment for having acted so coldly toward others. Even today, the crime of treason merits the most severe penalties, including capital punishment. However, betrayals need not involve issues of national security to be regarded as serious. From sexual infidelity to disclosing a friend’s secrets, betraying another person or group of people implies unspeakable disloyalty, a breach of trust, and a violation of what is good and proper. Moreover, all of us will suffer both minor and major betrayals throughout our lives, and most of us will, if only unwittingly, betray others (Jones & Burdette, 1994). The Macquarie Dictionary (1991) lists a number of different, though closely related, meanings of the term “to betray,” including to deliver up to an enemy, to be disloyal or unfaithful, to deceive or mislead, to reveal secrets, to seduce and desert, and to disappoint the hopes or expectations of another. Implicit in a number of these definitions is the rejection or discounting of one person by another; however, the nature of the relationship between interpersonal betrayal and rejection has not been explicitly addressed in the social psychological

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