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Exemption From Guilt - Self-development, Society
Exemption From Guilt - Self-development, Society

Video: Exemption From Guilt - Self-development, Society

Video: Exemption From Guilt - Self-development, Society
Video: Self concept, self identity, and social identity | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy 2023, March

Recorded by Nina Khmurchik

If you feel guilty, you don't necessarily have to do something bad. Sometimes our psyche turns on defense mechanisms and neurotic guilt appears, designed to protect us from something. In this article, we will analyze how defense mechanisms work, why they are needed, and how to weaken them

Freud's grandfather's legacy

Throughout the history of psychology, approaches to understanding guilt have differed. For example, Sigmund Freud understood guilt as the anxiety of a person dependent on society. A small child encounters this feeling when he commits an offense for which his parents can punish him or deprive him of their love.

Especially when the parent himself says: “I’ll stop loving you if you don’t do this… you will behave this way…” At this moment, the child experiences severe anxiety, fear, because parents for him are his whole world, almost gods. And to lose parental love means to lose everything. And so the child begins to feel guilty, to change, to adapt to his parents, becomes more comfortable and correct, he does what he is told, and does not do what he is forbidden to do.

As an adult, he experiences the same anxiety when he finds himself in a situation where he did something wrong. And he equates this anxiety with guilt. He is still afraid that he will be deprived of love or do something bad. Therefore, he urgently needs to change, adapt to the world around him.

Release from guilt
Release from guilt

This approach to wine was very common, and to this day many people define wine that way.

What Freud is talking about is neurotic guilt. It is based on the fear of being deprived of love and the fear of punishment

Existential approach

From the point of view of existential psychology, real guilt is inherent in a person from birth. And it is based not on fear, but on love. When we feel genuine, real guilt, we are usually not afraid for ourselves, not for being deprived of love or security, we are anxious about something that is dear to us.

Let's take two situations as an example

  • In the first case, you are late for a meeting with the manager. You are tormented, worried, expecting discontent from him and, perhaps, some kind of reprimand. You arrive and frantically begin to ask for forgiveness. You think you are feeling guilty. But the boss is not dear to you, and you are afraid of condemnation or that being late will entail some consequences. In general, you are afraid for yourself, for your safety. This is neurotic guilt.
  • In the second case, you are late for your sick mother. She is dear to you, you love her and do not want to be late so that she does not worry. No one will judge you when you finally come, no one will deprive you of love and security, but you feel guilty for making her wait. You are worried not for yourself, not for your safety, but for the other person. And this is what distinguishes genuine guilt from neurotic guilt.

Why is neurotic guilt needed?

For a start, it would be nice to understand why our psyche needs neuroses at all. I will quote the well-known psychotherapist AE Alekseychik: "A neurotic sees the world through a cloudy glass." What does it mean? A neurotic person does not want to see reality as it is. He's scared. And then he creates (unconsciously, of course) his reality.

The neurotic sees the world through a cloudy glass

Take one type of neurotic guilt - guilt caused by a neurosis of responsibility. It appears when we take on someone else's responsibility, because for some reason we are very scared to give it to the one to whom it really belongs.

Who didn't go to college?

For example, there is a mother and a son. Mom really wants her son to go to university, hires tutors for him and carefully monitors his progress. But then she needs to go on a business trip and her son is left alone for some time. Mom arrives, and the son (who is already two heads taller than her) failed the exams and did not enter. And mom feels guilty. What has she done? I had to stay at home and watch the child! Here it could be said that she was worried about a person dear to her and real wine, but not everything is so simple.

Mom protects the child, but in what sense? She seems to say to herself: “I have a good child, it’s my fault that I didn’t keep track.” If her child is good, then she is a good mother herself. It turns out such a paradox. She still protects herself.

Or, for example, she may be afraid to believe that her son is already an adult, bears responsibility, which means that she is not needed as a mother. It is hard for her to accept, believe and see this reality, and she protects herself.

Looking for someone to blame

There are times when we shift responsibility to others. When a dear person dies, sometimes relatives begin to blame doctors. Sometimes the doctors are really to blame, sometimes they are not. It's just that the disease took its toll.

But if I don't blame anyone, then how can I go on living? I will have to see that the world is unfair, loved ones die. It's hard and scary, and nothing can be done about it. But if I blame the doctors, then everything will immediately become normal. This is not a bad world, it is specific doctors who have failed. And so the world is good and fair.

Reasons for self-flagellation

There is another common type of neurotic guilt - wine as a drain. It arises, for example, in a situation when a person was hurt or angered, but he could not react in this situation. Did not have time, the moment was missed, he was ashamed. There can be a lot of options.

Release from guilt
Release from guilt

But a huge negative energy boils in a person, and it needs to go somewhere. And he directs it towards himself. Self-accusations begin, a person begins to destroy himself morally. These self-accusations are actually self-aggression. What is it for? It is easier to throw out negative energy somewhere than to stay with it, even if you end up suffering from it yourself. But it is the easiest way to direct it to yourself.

How to recognize?

Protection from reality unites all types of neurotic guilt. They work for us, but often with very large sacrifices. Sometimes neurotic guilt can lead to suicide or death. Remember Chekhov's classic "Death of an Official". Ivan Chervyakov's neurotic guilt was so insignificant, but it tormented him so much that he came home and died.

It is interesting in neurotic guilt and the fact that those around them may not blame the person for anything at all. But it seems to him that everyone blames him, that he is now simply crucified and must be saved immediately.

Reality test

It is sometimes possible to distinguish neurotic guilt from genuine guilt by where my gaze is directed. If I look inward, I am focused on myself, then we are most likely talking about neurotic guilt. And if I think first of all about something else, I am worried about someone else, then rather it is about real, genuine wine.

Liberation from neurotic guilt

Often, neurotic guilt serves to protect a person from traumatic circumstances. Therefore, if a person resists intensely, it is not worth breaking these defenses too diligently. Anxiety needs to be dealt with. And the psychotherapist will help to cope with this difficult task. If it is possible to alleviate the anxiety from which the person fights back so violently, then the neurotic guilt will go away.

The path of psychotherapy and introspection leads to a state of greater awareness. Mindfulness adds strength to combat anxiety and fear

And accordingly, protection becomes less important. But getting rid of neurotic guilt will not work at all. Only deeply self-sufficient people who have found strong support in something do not have this guilt.

In the next article, we will talk about true guilt, what it can give us and how to find forgiveness.

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