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Re: guilt and defense mechanisms Mark H.

Posted by wendy b. on June 15, 2002, at 10:36:06

In reply to Depressive Grandiosity and Narcissism, posted by Mark H. on June 14, 2002, at 20:32:28

...and then one of the people getting up to leave says to her lunch-friend:

"Sheesh, I wish Florence hadn't come in! Let's leave!"

Which goes to show.. What?

1) That the paranoia on the part of the depressed person is justified? (Sometimes paranoia is actually based on fact, right? We do know people who are might actually get up if we came in! or at least I do!)

2) That the people leaving are the depressed ones, because they get so irritable when some harmless person from their circle comes near them? (Turning the equation around... Sometimes I have done this, like: I just can't stand to be in a room with someone who is probably harmless, but I can't stand the person, so I'll leave rather than be around them. Irrational, but it does happen.)

3) That we're all a little depressed?

4) That only some of us are depressed, or only some of us sometimes, and that occasionally we just have big egos because this is the human condition?

Mark, I totally get what you're saying. It does us no good to wonder or worry about other people's motivations, and to put ourselves in the middle of other people's behaviors is surely a mistake. But I do think we're hard-wired, as humans, to care about what others feel, about how they feel about us, and about why other people may be feeling poorly. When it happens around us, and we're sensitive people, I think we tend to bring it around to being about ourselves. I think it's only human. It's just that we depressed types are a little MORE human than the rest of humanity.


This has been a big issue for me in the past year or so, too. I'm 42 and I'm finally figuring it out...and then I am hard on myself that it took me so long! We talked about this in group once: what does it mean to be "sensitive"? Why do we take things so strongly, so badly sometimes? What was it in our past that made it hard for us to just let things slide past, without thinking it's me, or it's my fault? I guess that's the jist of my thinking on the subject... that it's guilt. We're guilty somehow for things that go badly. And then it becomes a defense mechanism: it's to deflect having to ponder some event logically and without involving the self.

I think this may especially be true of someone like me, who was blamed and scapegoated a lot in the family hierarchy. And in my case, too, my siblings and I were the children who had to take care of, or look out for, the adults, and thus were always fearful of upsetting the applecart: "Don't get (step)dad mad, or don't upset Mom! You know what'll happen then!" So in a household like that, where there IS blame going on, blaming children for things that are really the ADULTS' responsibility, there is that major dysfunction. It's upside-down land, and we had to find a way to survive emotionally. We had to figure out how to get along in that environment. And we go around scared for the rest of our lives until we start to understand why.

But rather than label ourselves "self-involved" or "narcissistic," and feeling badly about ourselves because of it, we could just think that we're sensitive to others, and try to catch ourselves in the act of "over-reacting." Just being cognizant, in general, of the moments when we self-blame, or feel others are reacting to us negatively, and ask ourselves: "Why am I feeling guilty in this situation?" I can usually locate it in some pattern echoing down the corridors from my childhood...

However, I wouldn't go so far as to do the Don Miguel Ruiz thing from his book, The Four Agreements, where he says: "Never take anything personally," because we do interact with our worlds, and sometimes we hurt other people (intentionally or unintentionally). Or sometimes we act out of love, or altruism, or forgiveness, toward other people, and they respond to THAT in US, as well. So I wouldn't go as far as Ruiz does. But we do need to come to better self-understanding of the truth of our interactions with others, without becoming self-absorbed, AND without self-blame. At least, that is the goal, for myself...






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