Guilt - Our Internal Prosecutor

Miniseries about negative feelings - Part 3: Guilt

In Dr. Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche, the concept of the superego is the carrier of the so-called ego ideal and therefore the ideal conception of the individual of himself. You could say the perfect picture of yourself. Further thought kind of a picture that one has to do justice to in order to experience and feel one's self as coherent. We could say that in each of us there is a share that compares us with this ideal image of ourselves. And since no one is perfect, none of them correspond to this picture. This is where guilt comes into play. What accompanies guilt in this context is a feeling of failure or unworthiness. This manifests itself in psychological symptoms and also physically through anxiety, sweating, tremors, tension or depression.

Self-accusation causes suffering

A lot of suffering, therefore, just because you cannot live up to your own expectations of yourself. In addition, it is aggravating that these processes mainly occur subconsciously and the actual process of formation of guilt remains just as hidden as its actual cause. The key question for me is, when does this claim fulfill a benefit and when is it an obstacle?  

Accordingly, guilt is a phenomenon that requires an active internal prosecutor. So I have to blame myself to feel guilty. Therefore I have to defend myself in front of myself and redeem the guilt. You could say my ego-ideal. On the other hand, I will not feel guilty if I am pure with myself and my inner prosecutor does not raise his voice. And when my inner prosecutor becomes assertive, there may be desires for consequences for myself. Many sanction themselves e. g. by self-reproaches, self-denigration or, in the worst case, suicide. 

An intact inner framework of values instead of guilt

So what's the moral of the story? Well, I'm of the opinion that guilt is as useless as fear. As a feeling in itself, at most valuable as a whistleblower. That does not mean that I am pleading for ignorance, ruthlessness or stupid daring. I appeal to an intact inner framework of values that ensures that feelings of guilt do not take over the power and lead us into isolation, suffering and pain. What good comes from feeling guilty because I've brought harm to someone else? Nothing. Instead of guilt, the question should be what I can do to make up for the damage that has occurred and the question of how I can prevent it from arising again in the future.

What do you think? Let me know!

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