Depth psychology of parents' experiences of pathological forms of guilt (for example, families with children with disabilities)

  • O. Tsarkova Melitopol State Pedagogical University named after Bogdan Khmelnitsky
Keywords: sense of guilt, parents, children with disabilities, ambivalence, compensatory mechanisms, intrapersonal conflict, pathologization of guilt, the child’s illness attitude


The feelings of guilt by parents of children with limited health and functional disorders are the deep-psychological formation of interpersonal genesis caused by moral suffering as a result of the disability of the child, determined by the intensity of the mechanisms of psychological protection, intrapersonal conflicts; mediated by the personal qualities of the parents. Pathologization of the experience of guilt reveals a relationship with the types of attitude to the disease and the status of the child, has an ambivalent nature and tendency to hypercompensation.It is conceptualized and empirically proven that the sense of guilt of parents of children with disabilities is complex, primary in relation to intrasymeological traumatization by an experience that has a deep psychological determination associated with a specific set of mechanisms of psychological defenses, the presence of appropriate intrapersonal conflicts and irrational attitudes. The features of the experience of interpersonal guilt in terms of their conjunctive and disjunctive effects are analyzed. A set of moral traumatization of parents is defined, which describes the moral suffering from the recognition of a child’s disability and the phenomenon of secondary trauma due to the conviction of guilt before the child (family members, society, etc.). Moral trauma from guilt has two rational attributes: moral harm – moral losses associated with moral and physical suffering, limitations, losses, and moral suffering – negative experiences that manifest themselves in the form of fear, shame, humiliation, a state of mental pain, depression and apathy. Behavioral trends and obsessive thoughts about compensation and compulsive compensatory behavior are the main signs of moral trauma – traumatization from the experience of guilt.Unconscious determinations of parent’s fault found that can be detected through existential suffering and irrational personality settings. The archetypal program of irrational guilt constitutes in the mind of the subject a sense of irrational responsibility, which determines non-rational models of parental behavior. Due to the contradictions between programs of different levels, moral suffering becomes in the psychic reality of the individual constantly acting center of anxiety, a point of concentration. That is, the constantly existing presence in the existential space of the personality of suffering is a prerequisite for the birth and the center of the formation of the phenomenon of conscious moralistic self-excuse.The model of pathologizing the experience of the guilt of parents is proposed, taking into account the genetically adaptive nature of intra-family interaction and upbringing; features of traumatization from the recognition of disability of the child as far as socialization (chronification, integration-rationalization, medication of interactions, nosognosia) unconscious irrational guilt program (irrational parental behavior, parenthood ambivalence, reactivity of guilt) pathogenesis of other family-conditioned conditions and disorders, manipulative behavior, social disadaptation, retardation, hypercompensation, nosognosia.A three-factor structure of the phenomenon of guilt experienced by parents is presented («Facade Projective Wine», «Regressive Manipulative Wine», «Ambivalent Anxiety-Controlling Atitude»).Generalized from the perspective of the principles of deep psychocorrection and genetically-oriented psychotherapy, the basic models of correction and psychological accompaniment of feelings of guilt by parents. Technological and operational psychological correction should focus on metaphorization, awareness and realization of experiences, which ensures adequacy of reactions to injury, variation and flexibility of response, optimal use of the personality resource and the development of an individualized model of parent-child interaction (education). Awareness of guilt and its ego-dystonic, irrational content provides a rejection of secondary benefits. The hypothesis that was developed at the beginning of the study showed its relevance during the empirical part of the work.


Tsarkova, O.V. (2016). Psychology of guilty experiences with parents of children with developmental psychophysical problems. Kiev: Interservice.
Царькова, О.В. (2016). Психологія переживання провини у батьків дітей з психофізичними вадами розвитку. Київ: Інтерсервіс.

Tzarkova, O. (2015). Тhe feeling of guilt in parents who have children with psychophysiolocal disabilities. Fundamental and applied researches in practice of leading scientific schools, 3 (9).

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Tsarkova, O. (2017). Depth psychology of parents’ experiences of pathological forms of guilt (for example, families with children with disabilities). Fundamental and Applied Researches in Practice of Leading Scientific Schools, 23(5), 89-102. Retrieved from