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Guilt

Guilt is a feeling that occurs after a person believes they have committed some act of wrongdoing.  The act may go against their religion, their own personal beliefs or ethics, or the legal code.  Guilt comes when a person feels responsible for the act and regrets their decisions.  Shame is closely linked.

Signs

  • Depression related to past actions
  • Rumination on past actions
  • Attempts to undo an action
  • Nightmares

The role of Perception

A person may perceive a situation inaccurately and thus believe they have committed some offense when they actually have not.  For example, a person may believe they are responsible for causing a car accident when there is actually a cause that is beyond their own control.  It does not matter if they are actually responsible; they feel guilty because of their perception of the situation.  Perception also affects the magnitude of an action.  The most petty of thefts can cause a person the same amount of guilt as a violent crime.

Treatment

Guilt is a natural emotion and is typically resolved on its own.  Excessive guilt can be a sign of a deeper issue, in which case psychotherapy is helpful and recommended.  A therapist will help a client see solutions, or if a wrongdoing cannot be mended, they can help their client let go of the offense and return to their normal functioning after learning from the incident.

We Can Help

Open Path’s therapists offer beneficial services that encourage insight, self-reflection, and healthy coping mechanisms. Our therapists furnish a supportive environment, providing healthy outlooks and understanding.

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