Jonas Cantrell: “The hard part isn't making the decision. It's living with it.” Law Abiding Citizen (2009).

“I get up and pace the room, as if I can leave my guilt behind me. But it tracks me as I walk, an ugly shadow made by myself.” --Rosamund Lupton


"Regret about a past action, which motivates the wish to confess the wrongful action, hoping for forgiveness."

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.” --Sabaa Tahir

Guilt of the Survivor

Recipients of donor organs

Example: Heart transplant

Affirmation to work towards in a client who felt heavy guilt towards the donor of the heart transplant that saved his life.

"You live because he died. But he did not die so that you can live."

The Guardian (2006).

Ben Randall: [refering the the accident that killed Jake's friends] I've read the report Jake. Your blood alcohol level was zip that night. I'm guessing there was a flip for designated driver, you lost.

Jake Fischer: I guess that just makes it all go away, huh?

Ben Randall: No, it doesn't make it all right, it just makes it an accident. At least that's how it reads. You were 16 years old Jake. I'm not your priest, but if I was I think maybe you deserve a pass.

Jake Fischer: You're giving me a pass. You think you know everything, with your psychobabble bullshit. Why am I here? Why are you here, huh? Your too old to be doing this, you washed up here. You don't want to be teaching a bunch of kids in a pool, am I right? I don't give an eff what you read or who you talked to. You don't know about me.

[now yelling] Jake Fischer: I have me under control.

Ben Randall: I can see that. The only difference between you and me is that I don't wear the ones I lost on my arm. I know where your at Jake. I'm there myself. I ask myself everyday why I was the one who survived.

Jake Fischer: And?

Ben Randall: And if I can't answer that for me, I'm certainly not going to try to answer that for you. Have a seat. I want you to start being a member of this team. The team you have now. You have a gift Jake. You're the best swimmer to come through this program, hands down, by far, and you've got a whole record board to prove it. But you know what I see when I look at it? I see someone fast enough who's going to get there first. I see someone strong enough who's going to last. I see someone who can save a life maybe no one else could. You really want to honor then initials on your arm? Then honor your gift. Save the ones you can Jake. The rest, you've got to let go.



Guilt will be resolved as soon as one re-engages with empathy for one's true reasons and limitations that resulted in the action one feels guilty of.

I.e. an emotional understanding why one could not act differently at a certain point of time/life - no matter how tragic that might be.

Affirmation: "I did the best I could."

Processing Guilt/Shame


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