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Guilt Caused the Trauma in Childhood

  • Thread starter Notmyrealname11
  • Start date


Hi, I'm after a bit of help for a friend. I've been unable to find a case like this online.

I will call my friend Sue. When Sue was little, she was blamed for something very bad. By her mother. Enough times for Sue to believe it. Her mother blamed her for breaking up the marriage with her dad and did not recant it.

The core reason the marriage broke down was mother grew jealous of the love Sue showed for her dad. That jealousy came out in how the mother treated Sue, seemingly angry and cruel to her for no reason. After the divorce, Sue's love for her father remained, as did the mother's jealousy.

Sue believed it was her fault and, being a child of around 6, began to be crushed under the guilt of it. All of life's normal guilts a child would feel only added to it. Father never came back, she never saw him again. The guilt only got worse and worse. In desperation, she found a way to pay it no attention.

That was the point of trauma, a place to forget, I imagine. However it also taught her subconscious that guilt hurts. Now, if a scene before her eyes makes her feel guilty, or if her subconscious knows it will lead to guilt, she dissociates and has no idea what happened.

The mother, who had already lost so much, realised she had caused permanent trauma when she noticed the dissociation. But she also saw a means to ensure she did not speak of it.

Sue once told me her mother used to make her feel guilty on purpose. Guilt attacks, she called them. She said her mother had a way of controlling her and I believe I saw her do it once.

I think the mother tried using suggestion techniques after first putting Sue into a dissociative state with a guilt attack, but it wasn't working. When I witnessed the guilt attack (the attack contained the suggestive message), it was at the end of the encounter, not the beginning. Sue sobbed and then carried on watching TV like nothing happened.

I believe the reason Sue was catching her was because her mother was trying to teach Sue's subconscious a lead-in that it would recognise, thereby knowing guilt was coming and flick the switch. The actual guilt attack containing carefully selected words went straight to her subconscious.

Sue is now an adult. Mother has used this trick on Sue many times to compel her to do things that keep her secret. However, they are often things that would make her feel guilty, so she will dissociate as she's doing them and not remember.

So that's the situation. No police or doctors have or will be involved.

My worries are all of that ignored guilt must be stress and perhaps it spills out in interactions sometimes, i.e. responding with something which may head off guilt rather tham the words that were spoken, but still similar topic. Can that guilt cause stress?

Also, with mother still doing this to Sue some 30 years later, that mind wound has never had a chance to heal. Could this have healed? Can it ever?

Sue has no defense against this, other than to try to train her mind to deal with guilt normally. However long that takes.

So, can anyone relate? or offer advice?
You might want to look up relational trauma, rather than focusing on the guilt aspect. As guilt is a symptom of the bigger picture which is emotional abuse.
yes, it is possible to ‘heal’ from it. In the sense that Sue can learn what triggers her disassociation and can manage triggers and learn how to assert herself and how this has impacted her.
Anything can cause someone to feel stress. Even things that aren't commonly considered stressful. There are loads of treatment modalities that specifically focus on emotional regulation, anxiety reduction and distress tolerance. A big one is dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is another.