Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Dear Ethicist: What to Do About Guilt?

Dear Ethicist: I have written in before about feeling guilty. I know it sounds like I’m guilty about everything, but I have discovered in therapy that I have a lode of guilt that’s seeking to attach itself to some existential event. I know this sounds like I’m intellectualizing, but it’s actually an idea which derives from an understanding of elementary chemistry where elements bond to form compounds like C and O making Carbon Monoxide, which keeps the Carbon Monoxide monitor industry in business. Excuse me if I’m digressing.   Here is my trilemma in a nut shell. Do I cave into my guilt and simply avoid activities that make me feel guilty? Do I confront my guilt head on by doing precisely those things that make me feel guilty like bragging or showing off in the presence of poor pathetic schmucks who have spent their lives feeling envious of the rest of the world? Or do I figure that if I’m following the 10 Commandments everything else is gravy? In other words anything besides killing, coveting, holding the name of God in vain etc.


Guilt-Ridden, Manhattan 



Dear Guilt-Ridden, Is there such a thing as guilt? Probably yes. It's a  cross-cultural phenomenon. For instance, hypothetically there had to be a guilty Nazi. They may not have felt guilty about genocide. Instead these Nazis might have had compunctions about eating too many sweets. Kim Jong-un is another example. Does he feel guilty for murdering his uncle, Jang Song-thank or would his guilt be related to more intimate matters like failing to brush his teeth? As you can see I’m overthinking and will have to get back to you later.

Read "Is Guilt a Time-Bound Emotion?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost




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