“God may forgive your sins, but your nervous system won’t.” — Alfred Korzybski.
This is a quote taken from the following article titled, “Sin, Guilt and Mental Health: Confession and Restitution as Means of Therapy,” which I encourage my readers to study. It presents powerful truths that, if received and put into practice, will reap wonderfully healing results.
I believe I have mentioned this somewhere else in my blog, but it is so enlightening I will mention it again: I heard someone claim that 90% of all patients in mental institutions are there because of issues over unresolved guilt.
Though I cannot document this or provide a citation to verify its accuracy, the article cited above touches on its truth. I quote from the article:
“One definition of psychiatry is, significantly, ‘treatment of souls.’ A growing measure of responsible opinion argues convincingly that had religion been doing the job it should have done, psychiatry would never have arisen as a profession. Proponents of this view say that the problem is generally not a guilt complex. The problem is guilt. Depression, anxiety, hostility, fear, tension and, in more serious cases, psychosis are really ailments of the conscience — symptoms that result from violating the conscience’s promptings and refusing to live honestly and responsibly. On this basis, the only way to have the good life is to live a life that is good.”
My interest in this particular post and in my other is this: for children damaged by the destructive nature of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Parental Alienation (PA), the place that confession, forgiveness, and restitution have in the healing of the broken relationship with the alienated (or “targeted parent,” that parent that has been cut out of, or erased, from that child’s life) is, in my opinion, crucial to the long term health and continued healing of the relationship with the targeted parent.
Briefly, I want to again emphasize that children of PAS/PA are innocent victims of a highly destructive psychological pathology and form of child abuse perpetrated against them by the other “alienating” parent. When these psychologically abused children lash out at their other parent, that child is not acting out from their authentic self; they have been brainwashed and manipulated by their other parent to hate, disrespect, demean, and reject their other parent.
Such damaged children need and require our understanding, love, and long term commitment to their healing process. These abused children need to be shielded from unnecessary guilt over their hurtful attitudes and feelings toward their other parent. I wish to emphasize the need for treating such children with compassion and gentleness: they have been damaged enough for a lifetime and need all the help, love, and patience we can provide for them in a non-judgmental, fully supportive environment.
This said, we have to face reality. In certain cases of extreme parental alienation where the alienator has been successful in pitting the child against the other parent, that child may have leveled false and damaging accusations against that parent; the most harmful of such damaging lies are false allegations of sexual abuse.
All false allegations against an innocent parent, whether they are allegations of physical, mental, or sexual abuse, need to be addressed, particularly if those false allegations have wrecked havoc in the life of the innocent parent. This process of dealing with false allegations is necessary not only for the healing of the targeted parent, but most importantly, the healing of the child who has been brainwashed and victimized to make these false allegations in the first place.
Why I say this is due to the nature of guilt. When a child falsely accuses a parent of extreme abuse, at some point downstream in this child’s life, when they become aware these allegations are false, guilt will surely rear its ugly and destructive head in the child’s heart, mind and conscience.
If this guilt is not properly dealt with, I do not see how it is possible for that child to attain the complete, thorough, and deep healing they will need to lead a fully healthy life. This guilt must be dealt with, and brushing it under the rug as if it does not exist or downplaying its importance in the child’s life is placing a band-aid over a gunshot wound: a child cannot heal from such superficial and inadequate methods of care.
Guilt is like a malignant cancer, hidden from the naked eye, that grows in our souls. A person can appear normal on the outside yet be headed for the grave in six months with an undiagnosed case of a malignant and aggressive cancer. This is what unresolved guilt can do to a person’s mental and spiritual health; it’s destructive power is incredibly damaging.
There is something to be said about the ancient religious practice of confession, repentance, and restitution. To the detriment of us moderns today, who eschew from even acknowledging these great truths from religion, our losses from failing to deal with guilt in the time honored manner of a bygone era has prevented mental and spiritual healing from being experienced by those who need forgiveness.
Forgiveness. This is the great need of today. Forgiveness brings healing. When we have intentionally caused ill-deserved harm to someone, especially to an innocent loved one through false allegations, this creates spiritual blow-back for the person who caused the injury. It creates a wound for both people, causing a separation—a rupture—to appear between them. This estrangement is real, causing havoc and pain in our souls that need to be in union with that person in order that we may live out our lives in health and happiness.
Forgiveness is what heals the rupture and brings the frayed and painful ends back together. But forgiveness cannot happen until there is first confession, repentance, and an authentic attempt at restitution, that painful and oftentimes costly rebuilding to right the wrongs and heal the gaping wounds the false allegations have caused in the life of the unfairly accused. Such will not be easy, but will be worth it for the healing and love which will surely result.