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Kitayama, O. (1991). The Wounded Caretaker and Guilt. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:229-240.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:229-240

The Wounded Caretaker and Guilt

O. Kitayama


As an infant's feeling of guilt stems from the relative tension between his/her own destructiveness and the mother's survival, we can then discuss the possibility of 'forced' or 'false guilt' which can be generated in infants with fragile or masochistic mothers.

To understand the masochistic character not only in terms of sadism, but also in terms of love and care, to diagnose and treat them effectively, we should classify them into three categories. First, we have the normal, self-devoted caretakers, and second, the clinical group of character neurosis with masochistic caretakers' features: inability to stop taking care of others, inability to look after oneself and presence of masochistic tendencies in their caring for others. There is a third category of patients who risk becoming fragmented and possibly psychotic.

Someone whom guilt has been 'forced on to' may retain it inside for some time and 'force it out' on to somebody else, possibly the next generation.

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