Guilt. From the need to be recognized to the fear of being abandoned…

The frame of reference within which we move is the one that considers the “relationship as the basis for a healthy psychological functioning” and consequently the search for a balance between existing with our individualities and shaping ourselves as the environment requires. So let’s see how:

a) the existence of an individuality recalls the ability to contact one’s own needs after a careful listening to the sensations.

b) shaping oneself as the environment requires, recalls all those social norms that have been built up within the person, generating a sense of duty as a pillar.

Repeating these points, which exemplify the frame of reference within which we reason, we insert two important experiences that are continuously being generated within the relationship: “the need to be recognized and the fear of rejection”. I have purposely placed the need to be recognized as the first one, because this need, besides being present from birth, allows us to start living.

The need to be recognized is structured, on a mental level, as the main engine that the person seeks in the relationship. The lack of it will generate a “fear of rejection”, which often and willingly takes over without any reason.

But why all this fear and where does it come from? Let’s see here below:

Education has the main objective of bringing the naturalness of a person towards a different mechanism, that of social norms. As specified in the previous article, a functional medium education and makes individuality meet social norms. A dysfunctional education annuls individuality by virtue of social norms. What succeeds in generating this change of behavior from one’s own naturality towards social norms, is based on the creation of a specific experience, the sense of guilt”. In other words, if a person engages in behavior that differs from a social norm, the external context will mobilize itself to make that behavior feel wrong, while at the same time generating a sense of guilt in the person because he or she is held fully responsible for that behavior.

Let us continue by inserting an additional element, “making the other feel different from what one would expect, and see it as a result and closely related to “guilt”. In fact, the latter leads the person to feel inadequate with respect to what he or she has just said or done.

There are different degrees of guilt that the person acquires from the outside, and consequently there are different levels of “feeling different”. Low levels of guilt convey the message that one’s individuality exists, as well as an external context with which to learn to relate. High levels of guilt aim to communicate that one’s spontaneity/individuality is totally wrong. We will spend a next article to focus on a big difference between an education based on guilt, and one that lays its foundations on maturing a sense of responsibility as the engine of correct action.

As a final point, we combine feeling different with the estrangement that comes with it. The greater the diversity in a specific behavior with respect to the norms and expectations of others, the greater the degree to which the other will not want to deal with that person. We see the birth here of “fear of abandonment” extremely opposed to the vital need to “be recognized” described at the beginning of the article.


You can find a few basic points to focus on how guilt is born and solidifies in a dysfunctional manner in your daily life.

We start from our own spontaneity, which needs to meet by a world, structured by social norms. On the basis of this difference, we will bring the person to mature a sense of diversity/inadequacy to conform to what the social norms are. Adhering to the proposed norm, will generate a recognition of the person. The emergence of one’s individuality departing from the norms, will lead to a partial or total rejection by society with an attached sense of abandonment.