This is possible that morbidly guilt is our propensity to feel guilty, this is to say that make us responsible for the others’ misfortunes. To illustrate that, let’s consider the example of a woman who realizes she is no longer able to adequately care for her elderly mother. She decides to place her in an institution for the elderly people, but she blames the drop. We note that the mother can reinforce this guilt: “You cannot do this to me after everything I’ve done for you!”

Yet, this woman cannot be held responsible for the misfortunes of her mother. She is certainly responsible for the decision taken to enroll in an institution, but the emotional reaction of the mother is not within its purview. One might imagine that the latter may rejoice in this new environment, where she will be treated and will meet new people who may become friends. How the mother reacts to her daughter’s decision is entirely her choice, which therefore must assume the full responsibility.

“You’re pissing me off”

It is because we are assuming responsibilities that are not ours, we are feeling guilty. But why do we fall into this trap? Education certainly means a lot: parents often blame their children to the tune of clumsy words, “Stop, you get me crazy,” “I’m exhausted because of you” or more commonly “You’re pissing me off.” These words seem innocuous and trivial, but they all bear the responsibility of an unhappy state of parent to their child. They prepare the ground for morbid guilt.

Note also that religion is no stranger to the phenomenon of morbid guilt. In Catholicism, for example, guilt is the notion of original sin: all human beings are guilty because they must bear the sin of Adam and Eve. They are therefore guilty of misconduct they have not personally committed, which is precisely the definition of morbid guilt. Even without the label of sin, that affects all activities, are the sources of pleasure…

Guilt is the price of power

Morbid guilt is intrinsically linked to power. This power has quickly become absolute: it then turns into unchecked power. According to the fantasy our influence on others is total. If taking our first example, the girl blames the unhappy state of her mother to put her in an institution, is it imagines that it could certainly make her happy by keeping her at home? Now, of course, it is not the problem is not the institutionalization, but the loss of autonomy due to aging!

Thus, only a personal work of letting go and acceptance can be effective. Similarly, in our second example, whatever makes the woman, her husband could still live a fit of jealousy. Waive the invitation of a colleague does not reliably prevent the scene. In both cases, these people do not have absolute power over the reactions and emotions of others. But thanks to their guilt, they minimize the responsibility of others to deny it completely and they behave as if they were all-powerful.

The downside

Whoever wants to be free of guilt and morbid guilt must first renounce this fantasy of omnipotence. Reflecting on the lack of imagination is the only limited utility. On the contrary, assumes all your responsibilities, but nothing more than your responsibilities is the proper remedy. This is tantamount to surrender the responsibility of their thoughts to others, their feelings and their actions, in short, their well-being or their unhappiness.

Specifically, for each situation where we feel guilty, we will ask the following questions:

  • What should I do to stop feeling guilty? (For example: keep mom at home)
  • For what purpose? (Do not make her unhappy)
  • Does this result depend on me (not!) or does it involve a decision of others? (Yes, as you are the one who can decide her happiness here and there).

An affirmative answer to the last question indicates that guilt is morbid. That is to say, that we assume responsibility for a choice of others.