guilt Archives - Childhood Trauma Recovery

Tag Archives: Guilt

Strong Feelings Of Guilt In Childhood Can Affect Brain Development

Research suggests that children who are prone to feelings of intense, excessive guilt are at increased risk in adulthood of developing various psychiatric disorders. These include :

   – bipolar disorder

   – depression

   – anxiety

   – obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

A longitudinal study (Belden et al.), published in JAMA Psychiatry, involved a group of 306 children of school age identified (through primary caretaker reports) those from the group who had a propensity towards showing excessive signs of experiencing guilt.

When brain scans of the children were undertaken it was found that, of the original group of 306 children, those who had been identified as being prone to suffering excessive guilty feelings during their childhoods had, on average, SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER ANTERIOR INSULAE than the children from the group who had NOT shown signs of excessive feelings of guilt during their childhoods.

 

What is the anterior insula and what are its functions?

The anterior insula, part of the brain’s insular cortex and involved in the brain’s limbic system, plays a large role, amongst other functions, in our subjective emotional experience, including compassion and empathy, as well as in our self-awareness and interpersonal experience.

The anterior insula and psychopathology

In relation to its involvement with how we experience our emotions, the anterior insula is also involved in psychopathology (various mental disorders). Indeed, anterior insulae that are of significantly reduced size have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders.

Implications

It was inferred from the above that extreme feelings of guilt in childhood are associated with smaller anterior insulae which, in turn, increases the risk of the later development of mental disorders such as depression.

Conclusion 

This study adds weight to existing research that has previously shown a link between feelings of extreme guilt in childhood and the later development of psychopathology, especially internalizing mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Therefore, if a child is suffering from extreme guilt feelings, early therapeutic intervention is vital in order to reduce the risk of the development of further psychiatric problems in later life.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

Feel Guilty About Enjoying Yourself?

A profound sense of guilt and of worthlessness can develop within us if we experienced significant trauma during our childhood as has been written about extensively elsewhere on this site. One way in which this can manifest itself is that it can make us feel guilty and undeserving about experiencing good things in life such as relationships, career success or simply enjoying ourselves.

Occasionally, a kind of irrational, superstitious belief system can develop around this; for example, an individual might think something along the following lines : ‘if I dare to enjoy myself something bad is bound to happen to me.’ Indeed, such  faulty thinking can take on dramatic dimension, such as, ‘there’s no point in me trying to form a relationship with someone – if I do, I’m bound to be immediately struck down by terminal cancer.’

The guilt we feel that produces such distorted thinking is very likely to have its roots in the childhood trauma we experienced; specifically, we may consciously, or subconsciously, irrationally believe that the bad things we experienced in childhood ‘were our own fault.’ This phenomenon is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘MAGICAL GUILT.’ (Click here to read my article about overcoming guilt that is linked to the experience of childhood trauma.)

 

guilt_self_sabotage

 

SELF-SABOTAGE

If we do become successful, and such guilt has not been resolved, we may unconsciously punish ourselves by, for example, by becoming depressed or developing psychosomatic illnesses. In my own case, as I have written about elsewhere, I gambled away the money my father had left me after his death almost immediately upon receipt of it (click here to read my article about this experience).

 

SURVIVOR GUILT

Another cause of this ‘magical guilt’ may be that we feel luckier than another member of our family. For example, if, say, one of our parents is suffering from serious clinical depression during a period of our lives when we feel relatively well, we may develop the false belief that we are only well at their expense. Again, this leads us to believing we are not entitled to our relative good fortune.

 

THE BURDEN OF GUILT

The burden of guilt that we take on in the ways explained above leads to us constantly denying ourselves pleasure or unconsciously spoiling it should we inadvertently stumble upon it.

 

RESOURCES :

STOP SELF-SABOTAGE – CLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Childhood Trauma: How The Child’s View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Do You Ever Ask Yourself The Question : Am I A Bad Person?

When a child is continually mistreated, s/he will inevitably conclude that s/he must be innately bad. This is because s/he has a need (at an unconscious level) to preserve the illusion that her/his parents are good; this can only be achieved by taking the view that the mistreatment is deserved.

The child develops a fixed pattern of self-blame, and a belief that their mistreatment is due to their ‘own faults’. As the parent/s continue to mistreat the child, perhaps taking out their own stresses and frustrations on her/him, the child’s negative self-view becomes continually reinforced. Indeed, the child may become the FAMILY SCAPEGOAT, blamed for all the family’s problems.

am-i-a-bad-person

The child will often become full of anger, rage and aggression towards the parent/s and may not have developed sufficient articulacy to resolve the conflict verbally. A vicious circle then develops: each time the child rages against the parent/s, the child blames her/himself for the rage and the self-view of being ‘innately bad’ is further deepened.

This negative self-view may be made worse if one of the child’s unconscious coping mechanisms is to take out (technically known as DISPLACEMENT) her/his anger with the parent/s on others who may be less feared but do not deserve it (particularly disturbed children will sometimes take out their rage against their parent/s by tormenting animals; if the parent finds out that the child is doing this, it will be taken as further ‘evidence’ of the child’s ‘badness’, rather than as a major symptom of extreme psychological distress, as, in fact,it should be).

The more the child is badly treated, the more s/he will believe s/he is bringing the treatment on her/himself (at least at an unconscious level), confirming the child’s FALSE self-view of being innately ‘bad’, even ‘evil’ (especially if the parent/s are religious).

What is happening is that the child is identifying with the abusive parent/s, believing, wrongly, that the ‘badness’ in the parent/s actually resides within themselves. This has the effect of actually preserving the relationship and attachment with the parent (the internal thought process might be something like: ‘it is not my parent who is bad, it is me. I am being treated in this way because I deserve it.’ This thought process may well be, as I have said, unconscious).

Eventually the child will come to completely INTERNALIZE the belief that s/he is ‘bad’ and the false belief will come to fundamentally underpin the child’s self-view, creating a sense of worthlessness and self-loathing.

Often, even when mental health experts intervene and explain to the child it is not her/his fault that they have been ill-treated and that they are, in fact, in no way to blame, the child’s negative self-view can be so profoundly entrenched that it is extremely difficult to erase.

In such cases, a lot of therapeutic work is required in order to reprogram the child’s self-view so that it more accurately reflects reality. Without proper treatment, a deep sense of guilt and shame (which is, in reality, completely unwarranted) may persist over a lifetime with catastrophic results.

Any individual affected in such a way would be extremely well advised to seek psychotherapy and other professional advice as even very deep rooted negative self-views as a result of childhood trauma can be very effectively treated.

RESOURCES :

Stop Self Hatred – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS : CLICK HERE

 

OTHER ARTICLES ON SHAME AND SELF-HATRED :

 

RETURN HOME TO ABOUT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA RECOVERY. 

E-books :

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for instant download. (Other titles available).CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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