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In the wake of disaster: Survivors guilt

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posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 10:31 AM

In the wake of disaster: Survivors guilt

Wiki defines ‘Survivor Guilt’ as:

Survivor, survivor's, or survivors guilt or syndrome is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives himself to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. It may be found among survivors of combat, natural disasters, epidemics, among the friends and family of those who have committed suicide and in non-mortal situations among those whose colleagues are laid off...

In the aftermath of past tragedies such as 911 and ongoing catastrophes as were experiencing now with Japan I admit freely I've experienced ‘Survivor’s Guilt’.

I’ve asked my share of questions: Why them and not me?

In answer? I honestly believe 'Survival's Guilt' - to some extent - is a natural occurrence for a compassionate and caring being to experience - and pretty normal in fact just as long as we don’t let it go to far or to allow it to consume us.

I’ll add too I believe there’s a real need to expunge ourselves of this ‘guilt’ and the best way to do that is to talk about it.

Please, be welcome here and feel free to share your feelings over the catastrophe in Japan, but, don't by any means feel limited to posting your reactions to this specific tragedy.

If you’re involved now, or have been, in a personal or public tragedy that you’re feeling overwhelmed by, post it here. I think you'll be surprised at just how kind and caring those on ATS can be when they’re called out. The encouragement we can offer and find for ourselves here on ATS at times is both excellent and invaluable. Let's take advantage of it now.

Although conscious guilt is experienced as very real, a distinction has been made between "real" (or "active") guilt and "imagined" (or "passive") guilt.

Following traumatic events, an individual may experience "real" guilt for acts of commission or omission that resulted in the physical or emotional endangerment or harm of others.

"Imagined" guilt (e.g., survivor guilt, guilt with an element of wishful thinking about one's ability to act) includes the types of guilt that occur in the absence of having acted harmfully.

Both types of guilt include self condemnation, and either can result in harm to self or others (e.g., punishing acts to self or others; the action or elicitation of rejection, disdain and/or punishment).


peace to all
edit on 14-3-2011 by silo13 because: bbc

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 10:56 AM
Thanks for your thread. It's whats been on my mind lately.

Many times in my past, when I see disasters, natural or man-made and precious human lives lost, I often ask - why them and not me? I am prepared to go anytime, and I doubt if any will miss me when I am gone. Just another stats on world population growth. I had done nothing worthwhile, nothing meaningful, nothing lasting, just another john doe, a stranger to anyone else on the streets where none will bother to give a second look.

Why them, they whom have so much love to give and are loved by the many, simple ordinary folks, with hopes and dreams, with more laughter and joys to look forward to in this special journey of life? Why them, not me? I would have gladly taken over their place with no regrets.

Then I woke up and realised that each have a role to play on Earth, more so in these times. What are our roles then? It takes time for each to find out, and it will eventually give meaning and purpose to ones life. It never needs to be dramatic, and more often than not, it may even be just to touch another one's life, for 1 is an exponential number.

My turn and time to leave will eventually come, unknown to me, just like everyone's life for we are only mortals. But I guess not before my role is completed, whom our common Creator alone knows, to fulfill mankind's destiny.

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 11:28 AM
actually I feel quite the opposite when i survive something, like i have been chosen to survive for a reason, like i'm protected from something to live and achieve an objective. hmm wasnt that how hitler felt for sometime before his demise? it feels great anyway

you know i totally respect what you said, you have love and compassion for your fellow human beings regardless of race, colour or religion. you are on the right tracks, maybe you should donate money or help in any way you can. this will surely get rid of that feeling.

the truth is, and i truly believe in this, the thing that will unite the world is such events. it will bring us closer when we relate to each others struggles and pushes our differences aside for good.

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 11:55 AM
reply to post by SeekerofTruth101

Seeker, beautiful post.
Eloquent and poignant.
Thank you so much.

I was 'told' the other day - 'Gracie, would you rather have a spirit that feels compassion and pain for these people? Or be damned and trapped in a spirit, a soul, that feels nothing at all...' (God)...

Thank you Seeker,

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 11:57 AM
reply to post by RizeorDie

the truth is, and i truly believe in this, the thing that will unite the world is such events. it will bring us closer when we relate to each others struggles and pushes our differences aside for goo

And a long way around the dog to it's tail I agree.
It shouldn't have to be this way, but, yes, I do believe it 'unites' so many.
And I hope it does help others to realize there really is no difference between us after all.

peace to you and thanks for another wonderful perspective

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 12:22 PM
Good to see you too Silo =)

Oh yes, I suffer from survivors guilt. I actually didn't know the label to stick on that feeling for a long time. I am a survivor (as opposed to a victim) of a violent crime. Afterwards it was suggested I attend a support group. That didn't work out so well for me - I was constantly comparing my experience to the words I heard others share and minimized my own trauma. I felt so much empathy for others pain that I was paralyzed to process my own and perhaps that was the point my brain was trying make. It was too much for my psyche to get in touch with my own experience that I disassociated and upon reflection it was almost a form of escapism to take on the pain of others.

Regarding world events I'm not so sure this is exactly what I feel. I know I become news obcessed as with 9/11, Katrina, Haiti ect I simply can not stop watching the coverage. For me it's not about 'rubber necking' per se but a huge sense of sympathy - a wanting to connect with those affected and offer comfort even if it's only through sending them positive energy. I feel helpless in my desire to help. I donate money but wish I could hand it directly to a person in need - not to make myself feel good for doing a good deed but to know it actually got into the hands of someone in need. I know someone who is on a search and rescue team and I am in so much awe of the work they do.

In short, I think some of us 'feel' more then others. We have an empathic ability others do not. I'd read a thread about someone being so frustrated over the attitudes and lack of compassion on FB. I too experienced this and felt such sadness and disbelief. How can somone possibly whine about a headache or talk about trivalaties when so many people are suffering. I'm not naive, I understand there is suffering every single day even in my own community but the coldness and lack of compassion in others regarding large events I simply can not relate to and in itself makes me feel even more saddened. For example how some people use humor, whether it's a defense mechanism or not it makes me sick.

Yet another reason I'm grateful for ATS. While we have those who use humor to process these events, I think overall we have a very empathic community. We have a place to connect with others who feel these events on the same level we do.

posted on Mar, 14 2011 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by Whisper67

In short, I think some of us 'feel' more then others. We have an empathic ability others do not. I'd read a thread about someone being so frustrated over the attitudes and lack of compassion on FB.

Yes, I think we do - but I also think we all have the capacity to be open to empathy and care. And yes, I also remember that post you're referencing! I just wish I could remember who it was that posted it! I'd love to see them in this thread!

So here we are in this world where all around us is pain and suffering. We've been there you and I, on both sides of the coin.

I remember a quote that makes me think of you. 'With all that's horrible in this world the one thing that makes it bearable is you...'

That's what we can be for each other, all of us can.

hugs again and peace to you

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