If you have been badly treated early you feel guilt. The worse you have been treated without being allowed to question the treatment or seeing it as wrong the more guilt feelings, in relation to the violation and abuse that was inflicted. The child reacts with:
“It’s my fault! I deserved it, to learn, for my sinfulness and evilness and badness!!!" If there had been someone in the environment which could have helped the child on some level to process it, and see who actually was at fault – then the child shouldn’t have felt so guilty, or much less guilty, and maybe would have been able to feel anger, fury, disappointment etc. which though normally are and have been forbidden feelings? I.e., justified anger was actually forbidden and thus too dangerous for the child to feel on its own, to feel adequate feelings would mean that the child should have to confront and see the truth about his parents and what they did, and the message that actually lay in this treatment and behavior, though it was said to be for “your own good".
See the blog post about extremely (or less extreme?) “Low Self esteem” *) as the result of being severely abused. If you have a very low self esteem then you have been severely abused when you grew up (including humiliations of many different kinds probably during many years) I think. Low self esteem doesn’t come from nowhere or the blue!! It has reasons, and the one with low self esteem isn’t helped by contempt or more abuse of the same kind?? By contempt for weakness (and why are so many of us reacting with contempt for this inability to value oneself? Of not being able to take you in the collar and love yourself?? Does this say more about us who reacts like this than the one with these problems, maybe even severe problems?).
Another reaction to being badly treated and even very badly treated is to push all guilt away or rather pushing the guilt away for what you do as adult?? As Ingmar Bergman did when he came home to his wife waiting their fourth child lying in bed for the night. When he came home and told her that he was going to leave her for another woman. He saw her look at him full with pain and helplessness, but decided at that moment to push all such feelings far away the rest of his life!!! Because he thought the look he got was so painful, and guilt-instilling and probably threatening to bind him **) !???
Either your guilt burden gets enormous by very bad treatment OR you skip all such feelings totally? If you are severely abused, and have been exposed to emotional black mail too as a child? The more sever the abuse the more guilt feelings??? So some sorts of guilt feelings are in fact a sign of bad abuse during ones childhood?? Guilt feelings that can’t be related really to the present are sign of that!!??
And guilt feelings a parent has towards grown up children: one can (and maybe should?) try to talk and communicate about what one has on ones mind? Without instilling even more guilt!? Difficult, yes, probably. Admitting and taking full responsibility and asking forgiveness. Talking grown up to grown up. But I think there is a border for the parent too??? I mean a grown up child is after all grown up, and have a certain responsibility for her/himself… So if he/she can’t meet this as a grown up to a certain degree or at least after thinking about things and maybe more communication about the whole (and this isn’t a one-time talk either?)…
I can imagine (I don’t know if I am wrong?), but as a grown up I have responsibility for myself and my life (and with this also the right and permission to do what I want, to do this sort of work too etc.) and try to communicate as that grown up (if it is possible) with my parents (if they are alive), yes, with siblings and other relatives too??? With all rights to be respectfully met and listened to… Maybe clearly say: “With all I know and all work I have done I think that and that was extremely harmful! And it is no excuse for what happened!!! You shall not do things like that at all!! I see this clearly and I don’t want and won’t let me be asked to deny this or talked away from this!!” Or something.
This was different themes on the topic guilt; feeling it yourself and being confronted with other persons guilt, preferably people standing near and which you are more closely tied to, whether this closeness and “tiedness” is healthy or not?? And by the way hasn’t Miller written that if it was the healthy bond between the child and mother (father!!??) then the child develops to an autonomic individual?? The sounder the relation was the less tied up the later grown up child? Which in fact makes the adult relation much, much better and more open too!! When it is a relation between two adults, which are grown up even as human beings?? And if you aren’t it’s because you have been damaged, your integrity hasn’t been respected early, and nothing other mysterious (as too many “helpers” claim!!??).
And here comes guilt in another circumstance: in therapy. When a client enters therapy to process extremely burdening guilt feelings maybe too!!! Because these feelings feels unbearable!!! But many maybe enters therapy of other main reasons? But somewhere guilt becomes an issue!!??
And behind that guilt are shame feelings?
Miller writes in her book ”Breaking Down the Wall of Silence – The Liberating Experience of Facing Painful Truth” about therapy in which the guilt became confirmed rather than dissolved. About therapy that rather added the burden of guilt feelings.
By claiming that forgiveness is necessary for healing (and for being able to leave the chewing on childhood and its miseries). And by asking the client to understand his/her parents. Which is exactly what many children have learnt, more than enough, but obviously not enough in some therapist’s eyes?
Without being able to explain why the grown up child shall forgive parents that have never understood her/him or tried to understand her/him and not her/himself either. Why forgive a parent who hasn’t even any insight in what he/she has done?
Or forgiveness can be asked more implicitly by asking the client to understand (this also implicitly) to understand the parents situation. Even lively understand and imagine it. As if the former child hadn’t done exactly this and probably still does/did and therefore had a lot of problems in her/his life, including maybe even paralyzing guilt feelings!?
Isn’t this more of the same? Because who enters therapy generally, on her/his own initiative? Is it those who feels less guilt and blames themselves less?? Thus the most or less hardened?
Has this tendency to understand instead stood in the way for liberation, for being able to cope better with ones life, including understanding those people and phenomena in life that is worth understanding and standing closest? And not putting energy on persons and circumstances not worth any energy or efforts at all maybe?
Instead of those standing nearest and the ones that should be most worth one efforts and energy and time?
To this comes the power of narrating things, power of narrative, and healing effects just through sharing things… Kirkengen has written about this, the Swedish stress researcher has written about this, see also Pennebaker… Just articulating things can probably be enough for many people, and it would make things easier for those who are more hurt too…
That will be a coming blog post?
*) Learnt not to value yourself, but the opposite: ”Don’t think you are someone! That anyone can love someone like you! But if you try then maybe- but just maybe!!! (the child should never be sure!! How smart! Then it was totally in check!? And low self esteem can result in self destructive behavior, sometimes a very subtle behavior, so the surrounding hardly sees it... Sees it even less if it is a mother who shows it and the child is small and still living at home...
**) escaping what? He had been let down by his mother, probably severely, and now he had a need to punish other women when he didn’t dare to react against at his own mother so grown up he now was? The mother that had betrayed him so badly?
On “The Wall of Silence”)”.
And about spanking children in the blog post ”Spanking as Sexual Abuse…”.
And the blog post about physical integrity, what that sort of integrity is according to Ingeborg Bosch.