2018050720180509 (R4)

Why do many of us hold grudges, what sustains them in our lives and can we overcome them?

Nearly all of us have held a grudge. It can be relatively harmless and secret or deep, long-lasting and all-consuming - and everything in between. But why do we hold them? And what purpose is achieved in sustaining them?

In this entertaining and insightful programme, the writer and broadcaster Marcel Berlins - an amateur grudge-keeper himself - investigates grudges. He discovers how we come to harbour them, explores the range of them, what can make them endure and how they can be overcome.

He begins the programme by finding out what a grudge is. Most commonly a grudge is held by one person against another but this is not invariably the case. The defining characteristic is that the person holding the grudge believes - correctly or incorrectly - that a wrong has been done to her or him.

A grudge doesn't have to be rational and understandable. Rather, it will often be something which the holder of the grudge can continue justifying to himself or herself, even if the original reason for holding it may have become obscured or even been forgotten entirely.

Marcel reveals, though, from personal experience that it is possible to hold a grudge against another person for something done to a third party. That illustrates perhaps one of the most important consequences of grudge-holding: those who hold grudges usually suffer the most. To bear a serious grudge is a form of pain which may never go away.

But if holding a grudge were too painful, we probably wouldn't harbour them? So for many people it may be quite enjoyable, a sort of comfort blanket for a troubled soul.

The danger is that, though, could justify selfishness. So Marcel thinks it would perhaps be better if he did try to overcome his grudges. So how should he do that?

Producer Simon Coates.