Evolution of the Self

On the paradoxes of personality

5 Biggest Problems With Revenge—and Its 3 Best Remedies

This post will lay out the reasons that—both ethically and pragmatically—your viewpoint on revenge should be decidedly negative. I’ll back up my own unfavorable perspective on this all-too-frequent phenomenon by including a large variety of quotes that, to me, represent the wisest, most incisive thinking on the subject. Read More


You did not mention Masterson and his discussion on the Talionic impulse.

Revenge is not sweet

Great article. Touched all I think and feel about revenge.

One aspect of revenge I'd

One aspect of revenge I'd like to see more discussed is its connection to fear. Revenge eliminates threat. The desire for revenge can undo moral and consequentialist thinking because of the lurking fear that the perpetrator will continue to perpetrate.

Forgiveness is the Key!

Revenge is becoming common, which has actually created a vicious circle as pointed out in the article. In order to break this circle, forgiveness is essential - this is also my personal experience. Perhaps, this is why forgiveness is something that every religion preaches, right from Christianity to Jainism. I got to learn about forgivness at http://www.dadabhagwan.org/scientific-solutions/relationship/pratikraman...

Today, I am free of vengeance in relationships, especially with my bullying friends.

Revenge article

This is an informative article? All you have to do is collect a bunch of quotes from various people on the subject, ad very few words of your own, and this is called journalism?

We have our own saying at Delta House

Don't get mad. Get even.

Revenge and how to react

"3. Re-Channel Your Anger to Focus on Your Goals—Whether They Relate to Love, Success, or Achieving a State of Well-Being. Curiously, as the following quotes abundantly demonstrate, such pursuits can be understood as at least partly vindictive—as in, "I'll show you! Your words [or deeds] will only drive me that much harder to outdo you!" Here, advantageously, the original taunt or insult positively serves to motivate personal achievement. The energy for revenge is rerouted so as to optimize chances for success. The perceived wrong, rather than turning the one perpetrated against their perpetrator, actually inspires them to work all the harder to realize their highest aspirations.

However much wronged they may feel, they make no effort to retaliate directly against their tormenter(s), but instead devote themselves to surpassing them. And by successfully realizing their ambitions, they put their opponents in their (secondary) place. Once and for all, they “show up” those who’ve hurt, tricked, or disparaged them; or embarrassed and humiliated them. And their final victory lies not so much in their defeating their antagonists but in defeating their antagonists’ unfavorable expectations of them. With consummate irony, their very success can be seen as largely attributable to those who earlier may have victimized them."

What a wonderful way to justify spitefully hurting, vexing, tormenting, using and abusing others to get the production levels up. So this is what they teach in college? Motivation 101? Why, armed with this information, I should be able to go straight to the top... oh, but wait, that's only if nobody ACTUALLY takes revenge on me, isn't it? Definitely a punk's-eye view of things. Wrongs committed are wrongs committed, and even if no action is taken by the victim, the wrongs will be avenged, given time. Open your eyes, follow the lives of those who don't retaliate, and follow the lives of those who victimize... over time you will see this pattern, if you care to follow up on it.

May you be safe from your own Karma... Cheers!

Some revenge is quite civilized and healthy

... Like suing somebody for something that they have done that is grievously wrong or reporting a violent, abusive, or sexually threatening person to the police. Some people who have been raped or sexually abused get revenge by "outing" their offenders, a nonviolent form of revenge that also serves to protect other potential victims.

I see nothing wrong with nonviolent forms of revenge. Sometimes they are a pathway to obtaining justice, and sometimes they serve a protective function as well.

Seeking Justice Is Fine

No argument at all with you here. When "getting revenge" is the same as righteously and responsibly seeking justice, it can hardly be faulted.

Another thought or two

Forgiveness is not always necessary--there used to be an article here on PsychToday about "neutral unforgiveness" but unfortunately I can no longer find it. People who have been severely abused may find that forgiving "for your own good" feels like swallowing vomit.

People who feel vengeful, I believe, frequently feel powerless and also feel that expressing anger and hatred of the perpetrator, even in private, is taboo. I also agree with the poster who said that a desire for vengeance is heavily motivated by fear. Entertaining vengeful thoughts can, for some, be a way to feel worthy of being treated decently.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., who holds doctorates in English and Psychology, is a clinical psychologist and author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy.


Subscribe to Evolution of the Self

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?