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What is the effect of guilt
in the symptoms of mental illness?

revised January 01, 2010

A good example of the effect which guilt has on the human individual is seen in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth and his wife showed all the symptoms of what one might today diagnose as MPD, Borderline, Bipolar or Schizophrenia. Their symptoms were apparently due to their own guilt over shameful deeds and their need to hide their shame from others.

Could it be that such human response to our own guilt might lead us to experience symptoms which mimic today's mental and emotional illnesses? It is the obvious premise of Shakespeare. How can it be that therapists of today have missed his message?

In the Shakespearian tragedy, Macbeth is first thought of as a noble fellow. It is not until he listens to evil suggestion that he changes into a brutish and selfish seeker of power and status. For Macbeth's promotion to occur, the current king, Duncan, would have to be put out of the way.

His wife, Lady Macbeth, conceives a plan of murder to further the career of her husband. He is a bit fearful and reticient at first. However he and a friend, Banquo, have listened to three wicked counselors who told Macbeth that he deserved a higher position and that he would soon be king. The seed of wicked ambition was thus planted in Macbeth's heart. Macbeth should have rejected such suggestion as being unacceptable wickedness and cleaved to the good but instead the idea is allowed to take root and sprout into fruition.

Shakespeare makes note of the fact that evil often offers us some truth to get us to swallow the bigger lie. The same tactic was employed by the serpent counselor in the Garden against Adam and Eve who told them they could be like God, knowing good and evil. The problem was, and still is, our Creator only wants us to think on good things worthy of Him, not vile things. And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence. The same can be said of today's therapists, many of whom troll for hidden memories of supposed abuse by mom and dad.

Somehow, having been told his fortune seems to mesmerize Macbeth. He wants to believe what the wicked counselors have divined about his life. You would think he might stop and say, "I will not listen to such ungodly ones as these," but instead his mind dwells on their evil suggestions.

Many who go into therapy today are placing their lives at the whim of the therapist. They seem not to realize that they alone are responsible for their own attitudes and behaviors, no matter how they are beguiled by hypnosis, imagination, or subtle persuasion towards evil by a charming counselor with perhaps expert credentials in the field.

In much of today's therapy, self-esteem is made an object of worship and selfish rights and desires are encouraged by therapists who sell "flattery" while calling it "unconditional love." Virtue is oft forgotten in the process of assigning blame to scapegoats so to justify the client's sin and relieve their feelings of guilt over personal sin and error. The rights of others are not considered. God's judgment seems far away due to the reassurance of therapists who basically encourage sinners in their sin. Think of the therapist as the little character in the red suit with a pitchfork who counters the one on the other shoulder with the halo who urges good deeds and following the rules and you won't far miss it by analogy.

In Shakespeare's play, Lady Macbeth invokes the power of darkness into her heart so she can do the foul deed she and her husband have planned. She asks that her blood become thick and that her heart become evil. A normal person cannot do such evil deeds without first giving themselves over to the forces of darkness by denying God. Any normal person can commit murder and betrayal once their heart is hardened so that they experience no fear of the Lord or punishment for sin. I've read of peole who have done the same thing in modern times. Devil worship sometimes serves this purpose, to justify one placing selfish interests as a priority over everything else.

After the murders are committed, Lady Macbeth and her husband are immediately consumed with guilt. Yet their guilt does not stop them from committing more murders. If anything, this guilt seems to facilitate further sinful deeds. Lady Macbeth ridicules her husband's pangs of conscience and calls it a "mental illness."

Many therapists today ridicule the morality of their clients, regarding a healthy conscience to be due to moralistic parental teaching which represses normal urges and desires. {such as murder and unfaithfulness}

On this basis alone, many therapists are not qualified to counsel anyone, and need to work on their own personal integrity before attempting to help others.

Lady Macbeth chides her husband, "You do unbend your noble strength to think so brainsickly of things. Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand." She thinks everything will be okay if Macbeth will just stop feeling guilty and hide the facts which might expose his guilt.

Macbeth is having a bit of trouble staying in reality. "I crave your pardon, that which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose."
Macbeth hears voices telling him not to ever sleep again. "Methought I heard a voice cry, 'Sleep no more!'....Macbeth shall sleep no more." Macbeth begins having tormented dreams. Lady Macbeth also cannot sleep due to her own guilt and begins to despair because Macbeth is not too adept at covering up his symptoms in front of others. We must keep up appearances or people will think we're not "nice."

Apparently Mrs. Macbeth's postitive affirmations are not working since her denial of guilt is coming out in everyday symptoms of psychosis. Lady Macbeth begins going into trances and re-enacting the crimes {compulsive-obsessive?} while sleepwalking. This sonambolism is often a symptom of MPD or dissociative hysteria.

Macbeth's wife has flirted with dark forces, given up her femininity for power and control, influenced her family for evil instead of for good, usurping the rightful authority of her husband just as he usurped the authority of Duncan, his king. In effect, both Macbeths have played God as arbiters of good and evil for their own selfish desires.

In Shakespeare's tragedy the symptoms we now call "insanity" can be seen linked to unrepented guilt and remorse over sin. Remorse makes one a victim, with a and leads to blaming others, whereas repentance results in a changed heart and a changed attitude.

Both Macbeths begin obsessively washing their hands trying to get the stain of guilt off. Lady Macbeth is morbidly focused on self, not the poor innocent people she has slain, when she says,
"All the perfume in Arabia cannot sweeten this little hand."
"Out, damn spot!"

Lots of self-hypnosis going on here, you would think they might have been able to talk themselves into the fact that their deeds were noble, rather than reprehensible.

This upwardly-mobile couple presumably have no conscience, since they planned vile murders and overthrew rightful authority to obtain power and control. Yet they are tormented by the guilt of the deeds they have done. They did not count upon this. Macbeth cries out to his idols,
"Will all Neptune's ocean wash this blood clear from my hand?"

MacBeth begins having psychotic spells and hallucinations. He is paranoid, fearful, and full of anxiety. He sees things and people which are not there; people he has murdered. He acts crazy in front of dinner guests and is totally out of touch with reality.
{psychotic-- to quote a therapy term}

To explain things to his friends he tells them he has a strange affliction. {yeahhhh. that's the ticket--a mental illness of some kind} Some exotic type of mental illness to cover up Macbeth's shame and hide the real cause of the symptoms-- his own guilt.

After Macbeth becomes king in the place of the murdered Duncan, whose crown he had coveted, he finds he is still not happy. He wants still more. Envy once kindled, requires more murders in an insatiable attempt to satisfy self. The wicked counselors have placed in his mind, thoughts of grandeur and self-esteem and he must help these visions come to pass. Macbeth kills his friend Banquo who seemed to get a better prophecy. Envy like the grave, is never quite satisfied.

Macbeth can no longer ask God's blessing even though he acknowledges that he needs such a blessing. He is separated by his deeds from God and all things holy. His evil deeds do not permit him to return to God for forgiveness. He instead chooses deception and delusions as a means for hiding his shame and guilt. Self-deception and deception of others. Perhaps Macbeth could have claimed PTSD, MPD, or at the very least, amnesia for the events.

Macbeth consults the psychics again. These counselors brew an evil spell for him as he approaches. The witches mumble "Double, double, toil and trouble." As he comes up the three evil ones say, "Something wicked this way comes."
If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black.

At Macbeth's direction, these wicked counselors summon their master, the devil, to whom Macbeth speaks directly. Having begun seeking wisdom from the powers of darkness, he apparently wants to eliminate the middle men. Those obtaining demonic doctrines from today's therapists may soon find themselves taking the more direct route to the source of such "wisdom."

Before the murders, Macbeth and his wife have great interest in their marriage bed. After the deed Macbeth has no interest at all, in such things, being consumed with his guilt. Macbeth cannot eat nor sleep, much less be interested in the wellbeing of his wife. Therapists today might treat this as an eating disorder. Both Macbeths would be considered clinically depressed. They have good reason to be.

The voices Macbeth hears, cause him to be hyperalert and very anxious. He becomes very angry because his face must wear a mask to cover his false heart. Macbeth cannot be his real self but must be a hypocrite.

Lady Macbeth cannot get her rest because of the fancies of her mind. Macbeth tells the doctor his wife has "mental illness." The doctor responds that she is not sick. Macbeth insists that the doctor pluck out from her memory "a rooted sorrow." Unlike today's therapists who blame such craziness symptoms on repressed abuse trauma, this doctor says "the patient must minister to herself." Someone give that doctor a standing ovation.

Lady Macbeth finally dies, perhaps from suicide, while in her dark depression. Her remorse did nothing to save her and perhaps repentance seemed too high a price to her human pride. Macbeth, having lost his queen for whom he has murdered, decides life is meaningless.

Yet Macbeth fights on, killing many in battle. He boasts he can best anyone born of a woman. Perhaps he is still trying to prove his manhood to the wife who once mocked him but now deceased.

Macbeth had the innocent wife and child of the noble Macduff murdered. Macduff asks in his grief, "Did heaven look on and did not take their part?" This is the cry of all fathers who have seen their loved ones fall victim to therapists who destroy men's families with evil advice.

It is the cry of all of us who believe in God but see that He does allow child abuse and innocent people to be harmed by sinful others. Is the question rhetorical or is there an answer? Can one make this cry and still see God as being great, and being always good? Is it not the trial of Job, which all must eventually face.

Macduff makes the astute observation that Macbeth has been listening to a fallen angel. Shakespeare writes, "Angels are bright still, and the brightest fell." An obvious reference to Lucifer, who once had everything: intelligence, beauty, riches, power, fame. This son of God was thrown out of Heaven for exerting his rebellious will over God the Father. Now as Satan, he claims to be the victim of his Father's abuse and leads like-minded supporters in spreading such doctrines of demons.

Macbeth was once considered an honest and noble man and has fallen almost as far. Who is his abuser? Was he raised wrong? Did his circumstances cause him to need more self-esteem or did sin drag him away to do evil when he allowed evil suggestions into his heart?

What excuse did Lucifer have? Is the Father his scapegoat? Was he raised wrong? Did his circumstances cause him to need more self-esteem or did sin drag him away to do evil when he allowed evil suggestions into his heart? Could Lucifer perhaps be the poster child for the current abuse victim movement in our society?

It seems Macbeth is invincible, in spite of his sin, and his many symptoms of mental illness. Until finally Macbeth fights against Macduff, who tells him that he is not born of a woman, but was ripped untimely from his mother's womb{caesarean}. This causes Macbeth to lose his confidence, and freak-out. Resigned to his fate, Macbeth says, "Lay on, Macduff." Macbeth is killed in battle by Macduff.

I am not sure what the significance of that last scene is. The guilty will eventually be punished no matter their resolve and power since a holy God cannot be mocked. There is one not born of a woman in the usual sense, who sees us and judges all.

It is clear from the play that guilt has serious consequences for all of us. Sin leads to: self-focus, obsessions and compulsions, lying, desire for punishment, loss of sleep, trances, loss of sexual desire, additional sin, psychosis, delusions and false identity, insanity, death, false labels of illness, and eventually, judgment!

The therapist can tell his brainsickly patient to deny the guilt because he is not guilty of anything except trying to follow someone else's rules. Yet the reality of what God has said about how man came to his predicament and what to do about it cannot not be long denied. The law of God is engraved in stone. It never changes to fit modern concepts such as "political correctness" or therapist groupthink. I thank thee O Lord that thy word is forever settled in heaven.

As King Nebuchadnezzar learned from the insanity God sent into his heart as judgment on his pride, "Those who walk confidently in pride, He is able to humble."
{Daniel: Chapter Four}

God offers pardon to all sinners who are willing to humble themselves and ask in repentance for his forgiveness. To those who prefer to retain their pride, while seeking a second opinion from other counselors, God allows them to do so. Yet God will in no wise refuse any who ask his forgiveness with a broken and contrite heart.

Shakespeare writes, "In this earthly world, to do harm is often laudable,
to do good is considered dangerous folly."

He couldn't have summed up today's therapy industry any better if he tried. Therapists manipulate clients with false guilt while teaching them to ignore the real consequences of violating God's precepts. Therapists have the adoration of a majority of the public, while those who do good by warning of such dangers are seen to be involved in folly. These latter are considered to be an "enemy of the people."

Macbeth listened to evil counselors, the three witches whose suggestions planted the seed which began his thinking about selfish desires. Also he listened to his wife who suggested the means to accomplish these desires just as Adam listened to Eve, who listened to the wrong counselor in the garden.

Macbeth cannot escape responsibility for his murderous thoughts, actions, and evil deeds by saying he got really bad counsel. It is true that he did, and yet, as a free moral agent, he had the choice of saying "no" to evil counsel and "yes" to honoring his rightful authority. When Macbeth usurped God-ordained authority, he became what we call insane, or psychotic, showing all the symptoms of today's MPD/DID diagnosis, as did Lady Macbeth who wound up a suicide.

Guilt has serious consequences for our mental health and this fact may have been overlooked by today's psychiatric and psychological practitioners who talk people out of their guilt or dispense drugs to mask symptoms but which do nothing to find the real source of the symptoms. The real cause of such symptoms may be rooted in disrespect for authority, prideful self-focus, sinful deeds unrepented, and rebellious attitudes.

Links to further information on Macbeth

Full text of the play
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
for literary minded folks