Monday, December 26, 2011

Why We Wrote The Guilt Cure

by Pennington & Staples

As work on our first book Guilt with a Twist unfolded, we began to notice that the importance of guilt extended far beyond its moral purposes and functions. We began to see that guilt’s place in the maintenance of the moral and legal order was far less important than guilt’s role in psychic self-regulation and in the creation and maintenance of human consciousness. Near the end of Guilt With A Twist we realized we had hit upon some ground breaking ideas that advanced a new theory of guilt. We touched on these broader and more important ideas of guilt but didn’t explore them in any depth. Because of the limited treatment, they ran the risk of being lost or overlooked in the swarm of other themes and materials. The fear of losing these ideas among less important material prompted us to write The Guilt Cure.

In Guilt with a Twist, we focused on the necessity to incur guilt in order to live life fully. We explored in depth the ways guilt, in its conventional role of maintaining the legal and moral order, could interfere with psychological development. In The Guilt Cure, we focus on the necessity to incur guilt if we are to live at all.

In our more than 25 years of practice, we have accumulated an enormous amount of material that is relevant to dealing with guilt in a clinical setting. Because of guilt’s paradoxical and contradictory nature, the clinical material did not fit as well in Guilt With A Twist as it does The Guilt Cure. Guilt has a profound effect on our mental health and wellbeing and we were glad that this very important and interesting material lent itself to integration with the other contents of The Guilt Cure.

Nancy Carter Pennington received her MSW from The University of Maryland. For more than 30 years, Nancy has had the privilege of working with clients on a range of issues: phobias, OCD, grief, depression, obsessive thinking, guilt, and relationships. Lawrence H. Staples is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Washington, DC. Dr. Staples has an MBA from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in psychology; his special areas of interest are the problems of midlife, guilt, and creativity. He is the author of Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way and The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for Wholeness.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Unrequited Love Opens the Floodgates to Guilt

Unrequited love also opens the floodgates to guilt. It is experienced as another form of failure. When we love someone who does not return our love, we tend to blame ourselves, even if the one we love is physically or emotionally abusive. We usually feel that we are not loved back because of some shortfall we have, in our looks, our behavior, or our accomplishments. We are not conscious that we do not actually choose who we love. If we do become conscious of it, we may realize that the one we love may not be able to love us for the same reason that we may not be able to love someone who loves us. Love is a mystery. We can be both victim and perpetrator in this mystery, sometimes simultaneously. It is not unusual to have the experience of loving someone who does not love us at the same time that someone we do not love loves us. Someone may cause us to feel guilt at the same time that we are inflicting the identical feeling on still another suffering soul. Unrequited love is the death of love, and like all deaths that are near to us we feel profound grief. And behind our grief we usually find the specter of guilt. We often find a way to blame ourselves for some shortfall or flaw that we suspect caused the loss. Blaming ourselves gives us the illusion of control.
—Pennington & Staples, The Guilt Cure, pg. 44.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Guilt and Paranoia

"Paranoia, especially when expressed as delusions of persecution, can also be explained by the idea of an unconscious punisher. Unconscious guilt, the feeling that I am bad or evil, is accompanied by an unconscious feeling that bad people deserve to be punished and will get what they deserve. I then project onto others an intent to punish me. I have projected my unconscious punisher onto “them,” and it is now “they” who are after me. The “they” in the delusions are often authority figures of one sort or another. Unless we can locate and become conscious of our guilt, we cannot deal with the underlying cause of our paranoia."
—Pennington & Staples, The Guilt Cure, pg. 30.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

SamSara and the Homeopathic Cure

From Pennington and Staples' The Guilt Cure:

Early Wounds, Guilt and Repeating Patterns

All of us carry psychic wounds that were inflicted in childhood. In order to be safe and to be loved, we cut off and repressed thoughts, feelings and behaviors that were unacceptable to our parents. It is this “cut” that wounds us. None of us escapes these wounds because there are no parents to whom all thoughts, feelings and behaviors are acceptable. No parent gets it right. We are prone to think that the parent who neglects us is more wounding than the one who is over-solicitous and attentive. Both wound us. The wounds are different but they both hurt.These wounds become our developmental deficiencies. Our life long challenge is to recover the rejected qualities in order to become whole and live fuller lives.

Guilt lies behind these wounds. We avoid the unacceptable qualities in order to escape the painful guilt we are wired to experience when we violate parental values and wishes. And the behaviors we adopt early in life to avoid guilt, punishment and loss of love, continue throughout our lives as repeating patterns of behavior. If guilt is a necessity in life, then psychic wounds are also necessities. These necessary wounds determine the developmental path we must follow if we are to recover those cut off qualities and heal our wounds. We have to bear painful guilt if we are to become whole, just as we have to bear painful hunger if we are to lose weight.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fisher King Press to publish The Guilt Cure - News Release

The Guilt Cure

by Nancy Carter Pennington
and Lawrence H. Staples

The Guilt Cure addresses spiritual and psychological means to discover, treat, and expiate guilt and it’s neurotic counterparts. One of the great paradoxes of guilt is that despite its useful contributions to our lives, it can also be potentially dangerous. It is a major cause of anxiety and depression, and if untreated or expiated in some way, guilt has the potential to cause premature death by bringing on an onslaught of physical ailments--and suicide.

The Guilt Cure reaches deep into humanity’s collective experience of guilt and finds persuasive psychological reasons for guilt’s role and purpose that go far beyond conventionally held religious explanations. The conventional view is that guilt’s primary function is the protection and maintenance of morals. While guilt admittedly contributes to the protection and maintenance of morals, this is by no means its only role. Nor is it even its most important role.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gender & Guilt

by Lawrence H. Staples

Women have an unconscious masculine side and men have an unconscious feminine side. Jungians use the term animus to personify the masculine side of a woman. They use the term anima for the feminine side of the man. Guilt is a formidable obstacle to the development of the contra-sexual sides of our selves. Women who were taught by parents to behave in ways that the parents defined as feminine felt guilty whenever they deviated from such behavior. When they dared to express masculine(1) behaviors, they were made to feel that they were “bad.” Men face a similar problem in developing their feminine(2) side. Fathers can be as appalled by a son’s interest in ballet or art as he can by his tears or his inability to focus and think clearly. To develop our “other” side, we must jump the fence, violate the parental definitions of what is good, enter the shadow, sin, and incur guilt in varying degrees. It is hard and sometimes distasteful work. It’s much easier to manifest contra-sexual qualities today than it was a hundred years ago. But there is still a powerful residual resistance to the development of our contra-sexual selves.

A woman needs access to her inner masculine qualities if she is to protect and defend herself against those masculine qualities that have been turned against her. For a woman the cure for being a victim of those masculine qualities is homeopathic, with respect to the man; that is, she gives him a dose of his own medicine. Actually, if a woman does not actively seek to develop her inner masculine, it turns negative and becomes an inner critic and sabotages much that she does. Sometimes, he behaves on the inside like a terrorist, who appears in her nightmares as a dangerous intruder.