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Imaginary Transgression Syndrome

Imaginary Transgression Syndrome

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Published by Jane Gilgun
This article describes imaginary transgression syndrome, a set of beliefs that people have about themselves that convinces them that they have done something wrong when they have not. Deep down, they may believe something is wrong with them and that they are worthless and unlovable. These are some of the most distressing feelings that people can have. Most of the time, these beliefs are at rest. Many people who have imaginary transgression syndrome function quite well. Once in while, however, difficult life events trigger the activation of these beliefs. At those times, not only do people have to deal with the difficult events, but they also experience anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, worthlessness, and unlovableness that the events activate. The article describes imaginary transgression syndrome and guidelines for dealing with it.
This article describes imaginary transgression syndrome, a set of beliefs that people have about themselves that convinces them that they have done something wrong when they have not. Deep down, they may believe something is wrong with them and that they are worthless and unlovable. These are some of the most distressing feelings that people can have. Most of the time, these beliefs are at rest. Many people who have imaginary transgression syndrome function quite well. Once in while, however, difficult life events trigger the activation of these beliefs. At those times, not only do people have to deal with the difficult events, but they also experience anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, worthlessness, and unlovableness that the events activate. The article describes imaginary transgression syndrome and guidelines for dealing with it.

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Published by: Jane Gilgun on Jan 09, 2012
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09/26/2012

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1
ImaginaryTransgressionSyndrome
ByJaneGilgunSummary
Thisarticledescribesimaginarytransgressionsyndrome,asetofbeliefsthatpeoplehaveaboutthemselvesthatconvincesthemthattheyhavedonesomethingwrongwhentheyhavenot.Deepdown,manypeoplebelievesomethingiswrongwiththemandthattheyareworthlessandunlovable.Thesearesomeofthemostdistressingfeelingsthatpeoplecanhave.Mostofthetime,thesebeliefsareatrest.Manypeoplewhohaveimaginarytransgressionsyndromefunctionquitewell.Onceinwhile,however,difficultlifeeventstriggertheactivationofthesebeliefs.Atthosetimes,notonlydopeoplehavetodealwiththedifficultevents,buttheyalsoexperienceanxiety,fear,shame,guilt,worthlessness,andunlovablenessthattheeventsactivate.Thearticledescribesimaginarytransgressionsyndromeand guidelinesfordealingwithit.
 AbouttheAuthor
JaneF.Gilgun,Ph.D.,LICSW,isaprofessor,SchoolofSocialWork,UniversityofMinnesota,TwinCities,USA.Shelearnedaboutimaginarytransgressionsyndromethroughmorethan30yearsasareflectiveresearcherandsocialworkpractitioner.SeeProfessorGilgun’sotherarticles,books,andchildren’sstoriesonscribd.com,Kindle,andiBooks.
 
2
ImaginaryTransgressionSyndrome
maginarytransgressionsyndromeisasetofbeliefsthatmanypeoplehaveaboutthemselves.“Transgression”meansdoingsomethingthatiswrong.“Imaginary”meansthatthepersoninactualitydidnothingwrong.Manypeoplebelievetheyhavedonesomethingwrongwhentheyhavenot.Thesearefalseordistortedattributions.Thereareseveralvariationsoftheimaginarytransgressionsyndrome.Thefollowingaredescriptionsofthesevariationsfromthepointsofviewofthosewhohavethesyndrome.Inotherwords,thefollowingdescribeshowpeoplewiththesyndromethinkaboutthemselves.
ExperiencesofHurt
 
Someonehurtme.
 
Thepersonwhohurtmeisgood.
 
AgoodpersonwouldneverhurtmeifIagoodperson.
 
Imustbeabadperson.
 
Noonelovesme.
 
Noonewilleverloveme.
SomeoneDidSomethingBadtoMe
 
Someonedidsomethingbadtome.
 
Imusthavedonesomethingtodeserveit.
 
Imustbeabadperson.
 
Noonelovesme.
 
Noonewilleverloveme.
ExperiencesofHavingDoneSomethingWrong
 
Ihavedonesomethingwrong.
 
Iamabadperson.
 
Ideservetobetreatedbadly.
 
Noonelovesme.
 
Noonewilleverloveme.
ICausedSomethingBadtoHappen
 
Icausedsomethingbadtohappentootherpeople.
 
Imustbeabadperson.
 
Ideservetobetreatedbadly.
 
Noonelovesme.
 
Noonewilleverloveme.
I
 
3
ExperiencesofEmotionalNeglect
 
Iamaloneandafraid.
 
Thereisnoonetocomfortme.
 
Thepeoplearoundmearegood.
 
Theydonotrespondtomydistress.
 
Imustnotdeservetobecomforted.
 
Iwillfeelaloneandafraidforever.
 
Noonelovesme.
 
Imustbebad.
IDon’tCount
 
IwantpeopletocareaboutwhatIwant.
 
PeopledonotcareaboutwhatIwant.
 
Peopledowhattheywantnomatterhowtheiractionsaffectme.
 
WhatIwantdoesnotcount.
 
Idon’tcount.
 
Imustbebad.
 
Noonecaresaboutme.
 
Noonelovesme.Somepeoplehaveallsixsetsofbeliefs.Othersmayhaveone,two,ormore.Thesebeliefsstartinearlychildhoodandappeartobecomeembeddedinthebrainbeforememorycentersmature.Therefore,weforgettheeventsthatledustothesebeliefsbutwehaveemotionalmemoriesofthem.Mostofthetime,wedon’tevenknowwehavethesebeliefsbecausetheyareusuallyinactive.Peoplecanfunctionquitewellwhenthebeliefsareatrest.Ihaveobservedthesesetsofbeliefsmanytimesduringmy30yearsasareflectiveresearcherandsocialworker.By“reflective”ImeanIworkedatunderstandingtheexperiencesandthemeaningsoflifeeventsforresearchparticipants,serviceusers,serviceprovidersandmyself.Idoin-depthinterviewsthatattempttounderstandthecourseofhumanlivesand,ininterviewswithserviceproviders,howtheyinterpretthemeaningsoftheirworkandtheeffectsoftheworkonthem.Ihavetakenaspecialinterestinimaginarytransgressionsandtheireffects.ThepurposeofthisarticleistosharewhatIhavelearnedaboutimaginarytransgressionsyndrome.TheremaybemuchmoretothesyndromethanwhatIreporthere.Thisarticleisastartofanexplorationofthiswide-spreadhumancondition.
BeliefsasDeep-Rooted
Thebeliefsthatcharacterizeimaginarytransgressionsyndromeareembeddedinbraincircuits,readytobeactivatedwhenlifeeventstriggerthem.Anunhappylifeevent,suchasjoblossoraromanticbreak-up,cantriggertheactivationofthesebeliefs.Notonlydowehavetodealwiththepresentdifficultcircumstances,butwemaybefloodedwitholdbeliefsthatmakeourpresentsituationsevenmoredifficult.Wetellourselveswe’rescrew

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Jane Gilgun added this note
I really like this description of a common human dilemma. I hope this description gets wide-spread attention. It's a condition I've seen many times in my professional and personal ife and is at the root of much human misery. Please spread the word. It's better to live a happy life than a miserable one, or even a semi-miserable one.
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