Hello to my ADHD peeps and ADHD loved ones living with ADHD. Today I am going to talk a little bit about guilt what it is and why we experience it a little differently from other people. This is from a special request from one of the readers. As usual with symptoms I will write a short intro into a symptom and the next post will be things that we can do to reduce this symptom or strategies to try and work through it. 

Guilt needs no real introduction because most everyone has felt guilt at some point in their life, but most people don’t realize how a person with ADHD experiences guilt differently than their peers. I have talked about Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) before. In simple terms this symptom of ADHD causes people to take things extremely personally. A small mistake can feel monumental especially when we get corrected because we can take criticism very personally. 

I will give an example of why RSD is so intrinsically tied to guilt. Let’s say you are a kid and you eat an extra cookie. Your parents find out and they let you know that you shouldn’t do that because you could spoil your dinner, and then they talk to you about why you shouldn’t do that. In a normal setting a kid will most likely understand and think to themselves ‘okay I can’t eat a cookie because I will spoil my dinner.’ ADHD doesn’t work like that, ADHD makes your thoughts start running in every direction. A kid with ADHD internalizes this moment and this is why it is hard to discipline with ADHD (bless all of you that do this successfully). A lot of our brains start wondering okay cookies are for rewards I finished school work took a cookie got yelled at. I must not get rewards because I didn’t do well. My parents think that I am not a good kid. And you get this downward spiral that becomes internalized in the child. When you couple something like this with the combined presentation or the hyperactive presentation of ADHD, impulsivity is in our nature. You make the decision ‘I’m going to eat a cookie’ and after you eat it you start to think of what your parents think of you and you feel a horrible guilt because it draws back the memories of you being reprimanded for the same act. 

I believe that linking RSD with guilt can help understand why people with ADHD experience guilt so harshly. As always thank you for checking out the blog if you have any questions or things you’d like me to talk about, let me know.

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4 thoughts on “Guilt Trip

  1. Guilt can be false when an oppressive society and system tries to force that guilt upon us. I know from my childhood experiences as an Aspergian with ADHD that it can be the worst form of child abuse, prejudice and persecution in our schools and summer camps. Thank you for this important article which can make me look back on a great deal with a much stronger and clearer perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry about the past. I tried to put in some work on this new article so if caretakers are reading these they can make sure they are taking care of their children and not setting them up for a life of grief and guilt that they can’t control. I would love to know if you think i accomplish this.

      Liked by 1 person

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