Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for April 24th, 2012


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 24, 2012

Lea, astonished me, when she says “I just feel very guilty for how I have behaved towards you,” as she refers to her incessant curiosity about my life. The surprise is not that she feels badly about her behavior, but the surprise is that she chose the word “guilt,” as if she has committed a crime. For the first time, in ten years of seeing her, I began to understand that she grew up feeling guilty about her behavior. Her mother, Carolyn,  was very jealous that Lea was the focus of her husband, Joe’s, Lea’s father’s,  affection. Consequently, it seems that Carolyn made Lea feel guilty for taking Joe away from her. All of these dynamics were subtle on one level and not so subtle on another. Through our work together, this feeling of guilt was reactivated in our relationship, in the transference, thereby illuminating a longstanding feeling which she has absorbed into every fiber of her being. To talk about the guilt she felt as a child is one avenue into this pain, but to reactivate this feeling with me, makes the work feel so much more alive and interesting. It also gives Lea tremendous pain, which we work with in a patient way in which we  peel away the agony in order for us to look at Lea’s history in a more detached way. The emotional pain is important to process, but so is her family dynamics. Lea is beginning to see how she fit into her parents’ marriage in a way in which she was robbed of certain aspects of her childhood. Living with guilt on a daily basis and not understanding the source, was a cause of huge confusion for Lea. Almost within an instance, clarity came.

Posted in Guilt, Psychoanalysis | 10 Comments »

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