How to induce feelings of guilt?

How to create a feeling of guilt

There are universal methods of psychological pressure on the interlocutor, aimed at causing feelings of guilt. In the examples below, the italicized words that carry out such influence by “overloading” in the specified direction:

1) “generalizing” statements, which in principle are impossible to verify and therefore pointless to discuss. For example: “All men are scoundrels”, ” All women are deceivers”, “There is enough simplicity for every wise man”. “Blasphemers blaspheme because they are rejected by God;

2) generalizations (extended generalizations):

(a) Transferable to groups of people: “The work here is half an hour. But they are old people” – a hidden generalization: “Old people are unable to do even an easy job;

b) extensions in time: “always,” “always,” “forever”; e.g: “You’re always waiting for a catch”, “Forever you…”;

3) implicit indication of the violation of a generally accepted norm: “You didn’t even close the door behind you” presses harder than the simple indication “Close the door”;

4) Expansion of the message : “Despite the relationship between them, they were still sent together on a business trip” – this communicates: “They have ‘such’ a relationship.” Or other examples: “He doesn’t know English!”, “She studied by correspondence” (read: incomplete education);

5) replacement of the subject of action: “The bosses won’t forgive us…”, “How do we feel now?” – in the last phrase is well felt also psychological attachment from above;

6) substitution of neutral concepts with emotionally evaluated ones and vice versa: “second hand goods” instead of “second-hand things” or, even worse, “from someone else’s shoulder”; instead of the negative “spy” – the benevolent “scout”, etc.

Compare the two statements:

– The advice of old men is like the winter sun: it shines but does not warm.

– Old people’s advice is like the taste of ripe fruit. It is ripe, not green.

The direction of the psychological burden is obvious. The first statement suggests that old people’s age is their fault, and the second is their embellishment;

7) False analogy: “Volvo: a car for people who think” – as if all other cars are made for people who cannot think. The advertisers have not stopped there and have shown to the world “a masterpiece” of their own thought, having declared about “engine oil with intellect”;

Thematic switching: “Well, did you talk to your boss?” – “And why do you have that tone?”

9) implicit assumptions introduced in the message : “As you understand , I can’t do it,” – the assumption “You yourself understand” is imposed on the partner as a matter of course;

10) assumptions like “clearly and obviously”: “Will you come with us?” – “Where do I go now…” or “Do I have a choice?” – an obvious hint of coercion and, as a result, an abdication of responsibility and guilt for the consequences.

How to make a subordinate guilty

Some supervisors go to great lengths to build up low or high self-esteem in their subordinates in order to control them by taking advantage of this inadequacy. A person with low self-esteem is easily made guilty of all sins because he has a low opinion of himself and easily admits guilt even where there is none. An employee with an inflated self-esteem can be praised and given impossible tasks in order to gain the opportunity to blame him for failing to meet a deadline or failing to complete a task. These, of course, are manipulative techniques. Because of their danger and multiplicity, we will consider them separately, dedicating the next chapter to them.

The “guilty” are created by accusations.

– One employee said to another: “These bosses have a good job: they demand from us what they themselves violate.

Second: “Yes, what is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to the bull.

– The boss to a subordinate: “Aren’t you ashamed to be late?

– Entrepreneur to tax inspector (indignantly): “On what basis did you impose a fine?”

Inspector: “Let’s sort it out.” Takes out the documents and explains the reason for imposing penalties.

– Head of the Consolidated Department: “I want advice on what to do, so the services do not disrupt the deadlines for submitting reports.

Supervisor: “There is nothing to discuss! You’re not demanding enough!”

– In a negotiation, one side to the other: “You have disrupted our deliveries, and as a result, we have suffered tangible losses.

“No, it’s your fault for delaying the prepayment.”

– The husband came home three hours late, smelling of alcohol. The wife and mother-in-law were at home at the time.

Wife: “Seryozha, what happened?”

Mother-in-law: “Where have you been?”

Son-in-law: “This is our family. We’ll figure it out without help.”

“New Art.”

English newspapers reported on a “concert of silence” once given by a certain unknown pianist. The noisy publicity did its job – on the day of the concert the hall was full. The virtuoso of silence sits down at the piano and “plays,” but since all the strings are removed, not a single sound is heard. People in the audience begin to squint at each other. Everyone waits to see how their neighbor will react, and as a result, the entire audience sits with bated breath. After two hours of deathly silence, the “concert” ends. The pianist stands up and bows. He is greeted with thunderous applause.

Everyone in the audience was afraid to be accused of misunderstanding the “new art” and disrupting the concert, and the pianist took advantage of this.

Create the appearance of guilt for what happened

This technique of creating a sense of guilt is effective when the appearance of an allegedly happened “event” is prepared. Let us illustrate this with an example from the classics.

Among the nobility, it was believed that if a single man regularly visits the house where there is a girl “to marry,” it means that he has serious intentions and is preparing to propose. If the man never proposed, society considered him to have acted dishonestly by “compromising” the young person.

Leo Tolstoy described in War and Peace how regular visits to a potential bride’s house were used by Prince Vasily Kuraghin to marry the wealthy Pierre Bezukhov to his daughter Hélène.

Let us refer to the primary source, giving for the sake of brevity only excerpts relating to the main stages of the formation of guilt:

Pierre was at his hand in Moscow, and Prince Vasily arranged for him to be appointed Chamberlain and insisted that the young man go with him to St. Petersburg and stay in his house … Prince Vasily did everything that was necessary to marry Pierre to his daughter …

For a month and a half after Anna Pavlovna’s evening and the sleepless, anxious night that followed, in which he decided that marrying Hélène would be a misfortune and that he should avoid her and go away, Pierre did not move away from Prince Vasili after this decision, and felt with horror that every day he became more and more connected with her in the eyes of people

On the day of Hélène’s name-day a small company of the people closest to her, as the princess said, had dinner at Prince Vasili’s house–family and friends. All these relatives and friends were given to feel that on this day the fate of the birthday girl must be decided.

…The guests began to disperse.

– Aline,” he (Prince Vasily. – V. Sh.) said to his wife, “allez voir ce qu’ils font.”[2]

The Duchess came to the door, walked past it with a significant, indifferent look, and looked into the drawing-room. Pierre and Hélène were sitting and talking in the same way.

– All the same,” she answered her husband.

Prince Vasili strode resolutely, past the ladies, into the little drawing-room. He walked briskly, happily up to Pierre. The prince’s face was so unusually dignified that Pierre stood up frightened to see him.

– Thank God! – he said. – My wife told me everything! – He put his arm round Pierre with one arm and his daughter with the other. – My friend Lelia! I am very, very glad. – His voice trembled. – I loved your father… and she will be a good wife to you… God bless you. A month and a half later he was married.

(Tolstoy L. N. War and Peace. Vol. I. Ch. III).

“Are you a coward?”

This is one of the common manipulations. The target of influence is everyone’s desire (especially men) not to be accused of cowardice. The bait is a challenge. To illustrate this type of manipulation, we will use an excerpt from Julian Semyonov’s book “Seventeen Moments of Spring.

Exiting his office, Stirlitz saw Ervin’s suitcase being carried down the corridor. He would have recognized that suitcase from a thousand: it contained a transmitter.

Stirlitz, absent-mindedly and unhurriedly, followed the two men who, while talking merrily about something, carried the suitcase into Sturmbannführer Rolf’s office.

Everything in him became tense, he knocked briefly on the door of the study and, without waiting for an answer, entered Rolf’s office.

– Are you getting ready to evacuate? – he asked with a laugh.

– No,” Rolfe answered, “it’s a transmitter.

– Do you collect it? Where is the owner?

– The owner. I think the owner is dead. And the owner and her newborn baby are in an isolation ward at the Charité hospital.

– Yes. The bitch’s head is bruised.

This is followed by more and more details. Having learned everything he needs to know, Stirlitz ends the conversation this way:

“Having already opened the door, Stirlitz slapped himself on the forehead and laughed:

– I’ve become a sclerotic idiot… I was coming to you for sleeping pills, after all. Everybody knows you have good Swedish sleeping pills.

How is it that Investigator Rolfe went to the trouble of revealing official secrets? Especially in a situation of mutual surveillance, when they were all “under the hood of Mueller” and spied on each other?

Stirlitz achieved this with the help of manipulation, played out in three stages. He began with a sudden appeal (“knocked briefly and, without waiting for an answer, entered Rolf”) with the question, “Are you preparing for evacuation?”, the implication of which was a hint of cowardice.

The laughter that sounded during the question served two functions: first, mockery itself; second, laughter relaxes, sets the ease of communication, promotes frankness. Thereby Stirlitz made it clear: “I understand you and do not judge you.

Being the object of ridicule is not appropriate for an officer, so it is psychologically more advantageous for Rolf not to justify himself, but to move the conversation to the business plane, which he does, responding as a colleague to a colleague. Taking advantage of this, Stirlitz, under the guise of professional participation, he promptly asks a series of questions, obtaining important information for himself.

End the conversation in such a way as to conceal the true purpose of the visit (as must be the case with any manipulation). The catch about sleeping pills is very successful (“I sleep badly, help me”), the more so that the response of Rolf (helped out with the sleeping pills) leaves the latter with a sense of psychological gain: Stirlitz began with a hint of cowardice (“are you going to run away?”), and ended with the admission that he himself has a nervous breakdown.

Here is the easiest defense against this manipulation. It was enough for Rolf to ignore the offensive hint and ask a counter question: “Do you have something to do with me?

Shifting the blame to others

Here are some typical examples:

– A woman is always what the man next to her is like.

– Every nation has the kind of government it deserves.

– There are no bad students (students), there are bad teachers (teachers). This crowning move by some anonymous sophist has lulled all generations of school and college “gray masses.”

– There are no bad workers, there are bad managers (“the fish dies off the head”). This pithy argument justifies the quiet existence of the “office plankton.

– There are no weak dissertations, just few connections or many enemies of the dissertator and his supervisor. What a witty salvation for any “failing” situation!

How to borrow money.

– How’s your money situation?

– I seem to be doing okay.

– And I’m broke. The kids don’t even have money to buy food. Borrow till you get paid.

If you say no, you feel guilty in front of the hungry kids. And that feeling of guilt takes away from the more than pertinent question, “What were their parents thinking?” Somehow the fact that this person is usually in no hurry to pay back debts goes into the background as well…

The accusation as a way of extracting secrets

When a person (A) creates a feeling of guilt in another person (B), this makes B justify himself to A.

In making excuses for one thing, B may reveal something else that he is hiding from A.

This technique seems to be used more often by women. Here is how it may look like in practice, for example:

Wife: Honey, if I, say, die, will you marry again?

Wife: Don’t you like being married? Are you not happy with your wife?!

Husband (guiltily): No, it’s fine. But if it makes you feel better… I’ll get married.

Wife: And you’ll sleep with her in our bed?!

Husband: I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it.

Wife: And you’ll let her drive my car?!

Husband: No, she doesn’t know how to drive.

Wife: You rascal. Who is she? Do I know her?

And so on and so forth. The trap is slammed shut.

As brain researchers have found, when its departments related to emotion are aroused, the other departments responsible for reason are inhibited. Accusation, especially unjust accusation, triggers the emotion of outrage. And emotion, as we know, dulls the mind. Thus, to accuse a person of something is to elicit from him what he wants to hide.

This text is an introductory excerpt.

Continued on LitRes

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Feeling guilty is one of the most destructive things a person can do. Each of us at least once, but experienced it. On the one hand, there is an external factor that affects us, and on the other hand, our inner self does not agree with this influence. The external factor should be understood as the social environment, namely another person or people.

Guilt is a SOCIAL concept, for it is only by being in society and interacting with other people that we can experience it.

  • Ah, you didn’t buy me a new toy… then I don’t need anything at all!
  • Here, you sit at work until late at night! You never have time for your family! You don’t love us at all!
  • That’s the third time you’ve turned me down! If you don’t have time and you’re so busy, then meet me in the next life! Etc.

Such and similar statements to us are intended to sow guilt and discomfort in us. We cannot say with 100% certainty that people around us purposely pressurize us and deliberately make us feel guilty. More often than not, people do this unconsciously. It is unlikely that your child deliberately makes you feel bad by begging at the store for a toy that you can’t afford for financial reasons. It is unlikely that a loving husband works around the clock at work doing it in order to show you your uselessness. It’s unlikely that the man who wanted to see you is intentionally hurting you with his own refusal to see you.

These examples only indicate that someone has a need to get something from you. Due to some circumstance (lack of opportunity/desire/meaning), you can’t/won’t/don’t see fit to satisfy that person’s desire.

It would seem, then what? And then begins the most interesting part.

You have received the message – the need has been voiced to you. The message should be followed by your reaction. Like with Pavlov’s dogs – there is a stimulus, there must be a reaction. And the reaction after the message can be as follows:

  • Satisfy the need of the Other without guilt;
  • Satisfy the Other’s need with guilt;
  • Refuse to satisfy the Other’s need without guilt;
  • Refuse to meet the Other’s need with guilt.

Obviously, the appropriate response to the Other’s need is either “yes” or “no” without guilt.

This means that you understand the other person’s desire, but you can say no (you have the right to do so and let them use it) without beating yourself up and worrying about their emotional reaction to your refusal.

Unfortunately, most people in the former Soviet Union react differently to the desires of Others. Namely, by feeling guilty about the realization/non-fulfillment of other people’s desires and needs. The fact is that our upbringing is permeated with guilt that our parents unknowingly place on us. “There! I gave you my life! I denied myself everything! And now you’re acting like this with your mother!” or “I raised you, now you owe me for the rest of your life!” Sound familiar?

Our parents and their parents lived under such conditions of hardship (wars, hunger strikes, food restrictions, lack of work, etc.) that it was really heroic work to feed and raise a child. And it’s hard to argue with that. But when parents blame their children (remembering their hardships in the name of their children, total savings on themselves in order to buy their child a coat for the winter, etc.) that they had a difficult life and these difficulties coincided with the birth of a child, children have a sense of guilt.

The child grows up believing that Mom and Dad were or are having a bad time because they were born and are hanging on their necks. And since parents are gods in every way, they are good and right, it means that the child has to give back in the form of the expectations that parents voice.

And so from generation to generation we grow up with the belief that the happiness of others depends on us. With a destructive attitude that we are responsible for the choices of other people, even the closest and most important ones. With a sense of obligation and a life principle of “First to others, and then to ourselves, what remains.” Guilt, in addition to responsibility for others, has another facet: our own sense of unworthiness. It is unworthy and wrong to be happy, to live according to one’s own needs and desires, to be happy, to give up unnecessary things if others cannot or will not. This is the post-Soviet principle of “Be like everyone else and keep your head down!” And who wants to be the black sheep?

That’s why a man in his fourth decade of life, brought up by one mother, to whom kopecks were gotten by blood and sweat, is crushed by guilt for wanting to start a family and leave his mother. And how can he leave if she has the pressure? Who’s going to take care of her? “She’s everything to me, and here I am wanting something from life…” You’re not supposed to. Guilty.

A person feels that they are responsible for the other person’s reaction to their refusal or unwillingness to meet the other person’s need. But it is not.

Every day we make our own choices: what to eat, with whom to socialize, where to work, with whom to sleep, how to raise our children, etc. THIS IS OUR CHOICE. If you buy your child those things that hit your pocket, and for this you deny yourself the basic things, who is responsible for it? The child, who naturally wants to have something? Or you, the adult, who made the decision to deny yourself and satisfy the child’s desire at any cost? If the latter, then the child has nothing to do with it.

Naturally, when we are rejected, we get angry, irritated, trying in every way to achieve what we want. Although our emotional reactions to rejection are our resources and opportunities. Opportunities to assess the adequacy of the need, to look for another way to get what we want, to take responsibility for the fact that the need has not yet been met, etc. And when we treat rejection this way, by taking responsibility for ourselves, we get a chance to act and achieve results rather than suffer and blame others for our failures.

Put pressure on the sense of responsibility.

The emergence of guilt is governed by excessive responsibility and control. The person feels that he can and SHOULD make everyone happy urgently. If it doesn’t work out, then the person feels guilt towards the one who has failed to do good.

In order to induce guilt in such an over-responsible person, it is necessary to press on his “sore spot:

– Nikolai Petrovich! Well, who else can do it but you?! – Nina Stepanovna! You’re such a talented employee of the housing and utilities department! Without you, we would have been exhausted and could never organize a community subbotnik! Could you hire my sister to work in your department? She’s so smart.

The important thing here is to refuse and not to use any logical reasoning, but to “blur” the eyes with the other person’s sense of duty, their excessive responsibility, with guilt hiding at the base.


Evoking guilt is elementary manipulation as the optimal means to quickly achieve what we want. We often unknowingly use it:

– Kolya, go home immediately! Or do you want me to freeze my feet off and die?

The next day:

– Mom, why are you demanding cleanliness? Your shouting makes my ears hurt, they may fall off. Is that what you want?

If you want to control others, you should use this trick consciously. If you want to get something from the other person, inform him in ANY way about what he will lose if he doesn’t do it your way. At the same time, the deprivation must be meaningful to the person.

The best manipulations work best about health (“Kick that fly out, or I’ll have a heart attack!”), past merits and deprivations (“I put my life on you – throw out the trash!”), financial (“You’re unemployed, worthless, but for your mother’s blessed memory, I’ll lend you money”), etc.

Manipulate your sacrifice

Being offended, especially in a showy way, is a great way to incur guilt. Again, it is important to dump responsibility on the person:

– Here, if you made more money, I would not wear the same boots for 4 straight winters! – If you really loved me, you’d get rid of your friend before you even got married!”

This trick is most often used by women to maintain family relationships, which are built, in fact, on the man’s guilt. The woman in this case, acts as a victim and a sufferer, who tolerates all the sins of his man and demonstratively “forgives” them.

By “forgiveness” she means the benefits (rings, cars, promises, travel, money, staying in the family, etc.) with which the man is ready to give his woman, only to forgive the scoundrel. And a woman forgives a lot of things: cheating, gambling, beating, etc., after which she gets what she wants.

Be offended in the form of “if you…, then I would…”

Being offended, especially in a showy way, is a great way to incur guilt. Again, it is important to dump responsibility on the person:

– Here, if you made more money, I would not wear the same boots for 4 straight winters! – If you really loved me, you’d get rid of your friend before you even got married!”

Evaluate the other person’s personality in the form of “I didn’t think you were so…”

Another good way to make someone feel guilty is to voice the fact that they didn’t live up to your expectations.

– I never would have thought you could be such a scoundrel… – I didn’t know you were so bad to me…

Such “assertions” make the person you are talking to feel guilty in front of you and ask for forgiveness.

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