Hello, i am hoping you can help me shed some light on why i constantly feel guilty. I don't feel guilty because of my own actions, more i feel guilty because there was nothing i could do in past situations. For example i know when my mom was at school she was bullied and i have a sense of guilt because i wasn't there to be her friend or stand up for her.  when i hear about people who were killed or killed themselves i feel bad because perhaps if i had been there maybe i could have made a difference. I feel stupid talking about this- especially because i know i couldn't have done anything but i feel so sad and guilty all the time. It has only been in the past year or so i have felt like this, and there is nothing i can think of that would have triggered it. I was never made to feel guilty growing up or anything like that. I suppose i just want to know if I'm going crazy!?
Many Thanks in advance

Hello Emma - what you describes suggests that you may be controlled by a well-meaning "false self." I suspect that certain people and situations remind you indirectly of something in your own past that causes your sadness and guilt. See these for perspective:

If you are a "Grown Wounded Child" (GWC), I encourage you to study this free online lesson:

Questions = welcome! - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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