Psychological Self-Help

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49
freed from irrational thinking and could now become her highest
potential--an accepting, happy, beautiful princess. 
Guilt
Depression-prone people are super aware of their wrong doings--
and feel especially guilty. Mowrer, et al (1975) does not believe this
guilt necessarily involves some highly immoral behavior, such as
intense hostility or vile impulses, but rather could be the accumulation
of many ordinary "sins." We all do inconsiderate things: selfish acts,
hurtful comments, just not thinking of others, etc. Our society
encourages us to look out for #1 first or "do your own thing." As
Mowrer observes, since the Protestants protested confessing to a
priest 500 years ago, the Protestant religions provide no authorized
way to confess our sins and atone. And, because we hold inside "real
guilt" for what we have done, we become depressed and may have
other neurotic reactions. (Other theorists say it isn't guilt as much as
being ashamed of not trying harder.) Mowrer's solution was to form
"integrity groups" (modeled after the small early Christian
congregations) in which understanding, permanent friends listened to
our shortcomings (our "sins"), forgave us, and then helped us make
up for the harm we have done. 
Regret for things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do
that is inconsolable.
-Sydney J. Harris
Guilt isn't always the result of doing something inconsiderate or
immoral. Often it is just not doing what you think you should--"I
should never have let my son go out with that crowd," "I should have
known they weren't telling me the truth," "I should have kept better
records for taxes." In this case, you may be assuming too much
responsibility for whatever happened, setting impossible
(perfectionistic) standards, and/or engaging in irrational thinking (see
#6 and #7 above). Your mistaken views of the world and your
unreasonable expectations of yourself may cause guilt. Guilt may
cause depression. Or there is another possibility: whoever makes us
feel guilty is resented. In the case of guilt or regrets, you make
yourself feel badly; thus, you become angry at yourself, and that
anger is assumed by analysts to be the cause of depression. Handling
guilt and regrets is dealt with in the next section. 
Unmet dependency 
Some psychoanalysts and interpersonal therapists have looked into
the history of depressives and found over-protective, indulging, overly
involved or over-controlling, restrictive parents. The child grows up
with an "oral character:" dependent, low frustration tolerance, and so
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