My brother-in-law posted a comment on his Facebook page recently, remarking that he was a fan of St. Augustine.  One of his friends commented, I suspect joking, that Augustine was that guy who ‘felt so guilty about having fun that he had a nervous breakdown.’  I replied that maybe America needs a guilt trip after all, since in some very real ways, we’ve arrived at our current situation because of ‘fun.’

Which brings me to the ER.  How many of the diseases and struggles of our patients are victims of fun, and would have been well-served to have listened to a little, well, guilt?

It’s guilt, or the desire to avoid it, that keeps us in the beds of our spouses; that may even (perish the thought!) keep us out of anyone’s bed until we’re married, thus reducing our risk of STD’s and depression.  (Well documented, so don’t call me a moralist).

It’s guilt, or the desire to avoid it, that keeps us from punching that mouthy guy who won’t stop insulting us, our girlfriends, our wives, our children, our country or our causes.

It’s guilt that, or the desire to avoid it, that helps us not to cheat on our taxes, not to cheat on our billing codes, not to misrepresent ourselves on loan applications, not to rob our investors, mislead our constituents, lie to our employers,  or neglect any of our duties, whether physicians, bankers, politicians or trash collectors.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple.  Guilt represents a sensation that we are not living up to a standard of behavior, an ideal, an objective truth that we are beholden to.  Call it God, as I do, or call it natural law.  Violate it and you get guilt.

Wow, maybe we need a little guilt.  I suspect if we honored guilt a little more instead of following the psychotherapeutic tendency to ignore or suppress it, our ER’s might be less congested, our families more intact, our marriages happier and our entire financial system not so perilously close to utter disaster.

Have a great day!  And remember, guilt is there for a reason.

Edwin

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