Is Guilt a Medical Condition?
Misconceptions of all sorts
Counselors continually hear the misunderstandings people have about relationships and capabilities, about life and human development. Recently I was asked “Is guilt a medical condition and can guilt be a genetic predisposition that runs in a family?” The woman calling said both she and her sister have constantly experienced guilt throughout their life. Her mom and grandmother were no different.
Can Negative Emotions Actually Be A Medical Condition?
In Chinese Medicine, certain types mind set and emotions are characteristics of energy blockages or deficiencies in the body. The emotions of anger and anxiety can often be diminshed through herbs and acupuncture when the energy flow of the body is restored to its optimal state.
The western medical community primarily views negative emotions as a psychological condition. Medical communities do not conclude guilt a medical condition
Do Genetics Create Negative Emotions?
Science is realizing the old adage of genetics being a stagnant gene structure that is passed from one generation to the next is incorrect. However the life style choices and environmental conditions of past generations can impact later generations. That being said, genetics is still not set in stone, it only implies a disposition to certain sensitivities and abnormalities. The rest is learned or influenced by current conditions. Does that make guilt a medical condition?
Most certainly we learn by example and learn how to cope with different situations. The moment our nervous system develops, the body starts interpreting what feels good and what doesn’t. Our emotional response patterns develop during the first years of life. Our reasoning skills begin to form during the ages of 4 to 7. The relationship and nuturing parents provide sets the foundational structure all learning builds on. Quite often these are inadaquate to help someone cope with demanding life experiences
I have two friends. One speaks of Catholic guilt and the other Jewish guilt. Both have mothers and siblings who feel guilty. It seems like it runs in the family. But it is just as silly to assume religious groups are all from the same gene pool. Guilt requires certain belief systems to be in place and all beliefs are learned. Beliefs most certainly can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Not only is everyone in the family impacted by how the parents collectively see the world or how they process stress and adversity. If the parents take things personal, if there are beliefs limiting options or choice, or they don’t know how to forgive, what are they teaching their children
What is Guilt?
Guilt is feeling of blame for a particular outcome or experience. It requires some sense of having violated a percieved value. Since values are an internal constructions each of us holds in our own unique way, they are not universal; they are made up. Many people are trouble by defining guilt in this way, believing their morals are dependant on having a strong dose of guilt to keep them in check. That is a mispreception, as many people live health, productive and moral lives without any guilt at all.
Can the Process of Guilt be Changed?
Luckily how we process thought and emotions can be changed. Luckily, beliefs and values can be changed or modified to be more supportive of living a healthy life. So is guilt a medical condition?
There is an old saying “The apple doesn’t roll far from the tree.” It means children are like their parents, not because of the seeds, but because the are in close proximity to each other.