Anti Abuse Day: Guilt

I have received through several blog rolls and groups that today, in the blogosphere, is to be Anti Abuse Day. I found it a topic worth writing about and I would certainly be pleased to bring awareness to the public about abuse and being abused.

I won’t talk about sexual abuse, about molestation, political or physical abuse. I want to talk about a very subtle form of abuse – subtle, yet chronically damaging. I want to talk about mental abuse.

We are exposed to this horrific form of abuse every single day without knowing it. I am definite that you all felt some form of it. Mental abuse attacks you when you least or when you most expect it. There is nothing you can do about it, and, regardless of your valiant attempt to challenge it, you can’t feel but assaulted.

One of the simplest form of mental abuse (and most frequent, in my opinion), is guilt. By definition, “In psychology and ordinary language, guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something one believes one should not have done (or, conversely, not having done something one believes one should have done). It gives rise to a feeling that does not go away easily, driven by conscience. Sigmund Freud described this as the result of a struggle between the ego and the superego parental imprinting. Guilt and its causes, merits, and also demerits is a common theme in psychology and psychiatry. It is often associated with depression”.

Making others feel guilty is one of the harshest forms of abuse, not because of its magnitude but because of its frequency. Guilt is unfortunately a necessary emotion that we have to endure every now and then. It is through guilt that most people of religious power preach with (although I myself find a distinction between religion and religious people). It is through guilt (crime and punishment) that parents teach kids to not be harmful of others and not to raid the fridge for candy (I certainly got a lot of the latter). It is through guilt that many people commit (on or be committed to) honor killings (in Jordan and Japan). From the article, “Some thinkers have theorized that guilt is used as a tool of social control. Since guilty people feel they are undeserving, they are less likely to assert their rights and prerogatives. Thus, those in power seek to cultivate a sense of guilt among the populace, in order to make them more tractable”.

It is saddening when people do not understand the power of their guilt-inducing words when they utter them. Of course, the assailant almost never takes into account the other person’s feelings. It is their fault anyway, right? Why feel guilty when someone else should. Here you sit, blaming others for everything going wrong in their lives and yours. Everyone is guilty of something and we all carry this burden through our lives, and wear it down with ourselves.

Don’t accuse people blindly. You may hit a wall with many nails… but when you remove the nails, the wall will remain damaged. You can’t simply repair it and assume everything is fine.