Monday, September 14, 2015

Guilt Linked to Depression, Anxiety, Substance Abuse

(Masaccio Fresco image from the 
Cappella Brancacci, Santa Maria 
del Carmine,  Firenze, Italia
provided via Wikimedia Commons  
[Public domain].)
'Unconscious Guilt' - not conscious guilt, not the guilt we feel, understand, and knowingly claim - but 'Unconscious Guilt' is a major cause of depression and anxiety. If you are a professional who is treating a client for depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse, unconscious guilt may be at the root of their problem. Helping your clients find the source of unconscious guilt, and helping them to interpret its meaning may very well be what brings about a lasting change in their struggle to overcome depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse. The Guilt Cure prescribes a homeopathic approach to uncovering unconscious guilt and treating anxiety and depression in the sense that it does not require prescribed allopathic medications that only mask or deaden symptoms and foster unnecessary substance abuse and addictions. If you are a professional therapist, councilor, clergy person, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or if you suffer from any of these symptoms and would like to learn more about The Guilt Cure by Nancy Carter Pennington and Lawrence H. Staples, you can read a free sample (Google Preview Button) at the publisher website: fisherkingpress.com

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Denial, Guilt, and the Mental Health System

Guilt’s negative aspects go beyond its deterrence to psychological growth and development. It also affects our mental health and wellbeing. It can make us sick. Guilt is a major cause of depression, anxiety, paranoia and suicide. It is also a significant factor in less common ailments such as hypochondriasis, and other somatoform disorders. This view is not widely held among medical and mental health professionals, despite the fact that they encounter and deal with guilt daily in their practices. In the case of depression, biological and chemical imbalances or psychological factors like loss, grief and failure are emphasized. In our experience, however, these conventional viewpoints both overlook and underestimate guilt’s causal role in these serious disturbances. We have become increasingly conscious not only of the important causal role of guilt in these major psychological disorders but also of the damage it generally inflicts on our mental health and wellbeing. 

Long before The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders had been conceived, Lady Macbeth’s guilt-induced decline into mental disorder and suicide dramatically and accurately portrayed at the extreme the psychological damage that guilt can inflict on the human psyche. Despite Shakespeare’s vivid and accurate portrayal of the dangerous consequences of guilt, and despite commonsensical grounds for belief that the bard got it right, standard and conventional diagnostic criteria often overlook and underestimate the role of guilt in some of our most frequently encountered psychological difficulties. We can see this blind spot in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This important manual, used worldwide by psychiatrists and psychologists to help them diagnose psychological problems, mentions guilt as a diagnostic criterion only in major depressive episodes, depressive personality disorders, and dysthymia, the latter of which being only recently added to the manual. The insignificance of guilt in the manual’s diagnostic scheme is also suggested by the fact that the word guilt is not even in the index. Nor is it listed as a contributing factor to anxiety. Guilt is certainly not generally perceived as a cause of any mental disorder. However, as therapists we can’t avoid the truth that the mere fact of diagnosing someone with a mental disorder induces guilt. Even the need to come to therapy is itself a source of guilt.

One cannot help but wonder why the manual does not stress the importance of guilt, because clerics and therapists have been seeing and dealing with guilt, one way or another, for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Perhaps guilt’s role in mental disorders is muted because it has been viewed primarily as a religious construct. Or perhaps guilt is viewed just as a normal feeling, like grief or disappointment. Or, perhaps they view guilt primarily as a positive factor demonstrating the presence of normal conscience. Finally, they may feel guilt is mainly deserved. Normal or not, deserved or not, guilt is a potentially dangerous feeling that is a ubiquitous threat to our mental health and wellbeing. While we cannot fully explain the virtual absence of guilt’s role in the official pantheon of mental disorders, we do know it is a serious threat to mental health.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guilt and Gold - The Sacred and the Profane

At a deep, inner level the sacred and the profane are united by an underlying reality that acknowledges their interdependence and the truth that one has no meaning without the other. Without the contrast provided by the profane we could not become conscious of the sacred. We hide our sins for the same reason that we hide and keep out of sight what is most valuable so that thieves will not break in and steal our treasure.

When we become conscious of how sacred our sins are, we can bring them into the light and share their sacredness and their worth. Sharing secrets is an act of intimacy. The sharing connects us to others and is a major cure for loneliness. Folks in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) learned that a long time ago.

Jung said that the shadow, where we hide our sins in secret, is 90% pure gold. The sins we commit eventually catapult us onto a path that leads us to psychological as well as spiritual development. The path leads us to our self, a Jungian term for the totality of our being and a psychological construct for god within. Lawrence H. Staples, Guilt with a Twist, pg 34.

Friday, April 18, 2014

At Your Finger Tips: The Guilt Cure

Late in his life, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, had a stunning insight about the nature of guilt. His insight reaches deep into humanity’s collective psychic experience, and reveals a mystery that challenges our conventional views. In Jung’s last book, Mysterium Coniunctionis, which he finished seven years before his death in 1961, he wrote, “that the opposites are the ineradicable and indispensable precondition of all psychic life, so much so that life itself is guilt.” C.G.Jung, Collected Works (CW) Volume 14, par. 206.

"If life itself is guilt, and life comes from God, then guilt must also come from God. And from his terrible deeds, we have grounds for suspecting that God is indeed guilty and that guilt may be as necessary for God’s life as it is for ours. God, or our idea of God, often appears to be strikingly similar to parents and other earthly authorities. And vice-versa." Pennington and Staples, The Guilt Cure, pg 1.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Holidays and Falling Short of Ideals

Letting go of the way we wish things ideally would be can lead to more human development than the ideals themselves.

article by Lawrence H. Staples

There are many worthy arguments for the existence of ideals. These include the role of ideals as an organizing principle around which people with similar values can gather. Like goals, ideals motivate us.

We would have to be blind, however, not to acknowledge their danger. By definition, when ideals are our guide, we strive for perfection that does not exist in the real world. We strive for something that in the long run will frustrate us and depress us because we will fall short. We will experience failure. Goals are different. Having realistically attainable goals can serve us well.

Real development often requires the sacrifice of high ideals; it often demands that we get real. Letting go of the way we wish things ideally would be can lead to more human development than the ideals themselves. We can’t give up or fail to meet ideals, however, without incurring guilt. I asked a patient what he thought it would take to really satisfy his self-righteous mother, who admired preachers. He said: “In my case I probably would have to become Jesus.” It made me think that Jesus probably is the unconscious model for the goals of achievement for many children. If the child is not to become the savior of the world, he simply is not special enough. It is a terrible burden to feel that one can please or save a parent only by achieving such heights. Failing one’s parents is like failing God, and failing either one brings guilt. Letting go of the need to be a savior can be a daunting task. Once children become aware of the burden they are saddled with, they feel anger—that the goals they are encouraged to attain are for their parents, not for themselves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

'Guilt with a Twist' Highly Recommended by Midwest Book Review

Guilt can be a bad thing at times, as it stands to prevent people from doing what needs to be done 
—By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) 

“Is guilt nature's way of making mankind not wrong one another, even more so than the laws and customs of civilized society? That's what "Guilt With a Twist", the many years' work of a clinical psychoanalyst and Ph.D holder Lawrence H. Staples, claims. Staples argues that guilt can be a bad thing at times, when it prevents people from doing what needs to be done - such as cutting off an abusive family member, or encouraging people to help themselves. A comprehensive look at guilt, "Guilt with a Twist" is highly recommended for community library psychology collections and for anyone who wants a better understanding of humanity's natural moral alarm.”—Midwest Book Review

Guilt with a Twist by Lawrence H. Staples —ISBN 9780977607648

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Creative Soul Revealed

Reviewed by Joey Madia

Eighteen months ago, I reviewed Dr. Staples’s Guilt with a Twist, a book with which I had some reservations. In the case of The Creative Soul (subtitled “Art and the Quest for Wholeness”), a relatively short book (91 pages including the Index), he has expanded on my favorite section of Guilt, dealing with the process of creativity as it applies to mental health and the integration of the Shadow, a core idea in the work and writings of Carl Jung (Staples is a Jungian analyst who trained in Switzerland after making a mid-life career-switch at the age of 50). 


Inherent in the process of integrating one’s Shadow is the first step of acknowledging that it exists and exploring the push and pull of opposites at play within us all. It is this dynamic tension between good and evil, light and dark, loyalty to other and loyalty to self that feeds and fuels our creative impulses. For those whose denial of the Shadow is so deep as to cause a psychic wound, the creative act can also be the healing act.