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Why Don’t I Feel Guilty?

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From a 14 year old girl in the U.S.:  Hi. I think a year ago, I did something horrible that could have killed me and maybe even my family. Fortunately, nothing came out of it and everything is ok, except for myself.

I actually buried the memory until a while after it happened, when I remembered and I felt horrible. It seemed like for a while I was just waiting for myself to commit suicide, and I felt like I had already ruined my life.

One night, I cried and was the saddest I had ever been, until I got tired and fell asleep. However, the day after that night, I didn’t really feel sadness or guilt anymore, just content and apathy. I thought it would go away, but it hasn’t. A while after that, I did still feel sad about it, but each time I would suddenly feel happy and hopeful before just being apathetic again. Now, I barely even feel sad or guilty about it. I think I have some kind of defense mechanism where I just stop feeling guilt after extreme circumstances.

You probably think this is a good thing, but it isn’t. I should be feeling sad and guilty for what I did, and I’m also trying to make myself “redeemed” and become a better person, but it’s hard when it feels like what got me started on becoming a better person never happened. To be honest, I’m just a cold person in general. I used to cry a river thinking about horrible things, and now it just doesn’t affect me at all. I don’t want to be a cold, unempathetic person, but that’s the road I’m walking. Please help me! Please tell me there’s some way to fix this!

Why Don’t I Feel Guilty?

Answered by on -


Of course there is a way to “fix this.” But you probably can’t do it on your own. Whatever happened was traumatic enough that you dissociated from the memory for a time. Then your brain did what brains often do to people who are traumatized. It divided your emotions between feeling bad and not feeling at all. Losing your feelings was your brain’s way to protect you. But it’s no longer helpful. You need to relearn that there is a huge spectrum of emotion available to you — from feeling terrible to feeling kind of numb and apathetic to feeling at peace and happy again.

That’s what therapy can offer you. With some serious work on your part, you can learn to feel the range of feelings again. You can also take a new look at what happened when you were only 13 to reexamine whether your evaluation of it at the time was accurate.

I hope you will take yourself seriously. You have a serious emotional block that will get in the way of friendships and love for family and potentially love for a romantic interest for the foreseeable future. These things rarely fix themselves. You need and deserve the guidance and support of a professional.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Why Don’t I Feel Guilty?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Why Don’t I Feel Guilty?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Jul 2020 (Originally: 8 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 6 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.