Events and Seminars

Event:UCL Psychoanalysis Unit Conference 2022 - The Problems of Guilt
Venue:Online - via Zoom or In-Person at UCL. (TBC)
Date:02/12/2022 - 04/12/2022
Duration:3:30 pm–1:00 pm
Extra Info:Further details - TBA.


Psychoanalysis Unit

In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud distinguished guilt from remorse. To experience and bear remorse may mean a searching psychological examination of oneself, but it is intrinsic to what it is to become more decent, rather than remain something of a monster. It is decisive in a choice of whether to grow in stature as a person or deteriorate. However, in certain kinds of guilt, Freud saw a main manifestation of a destructive drive that he believed might be inherent in living things, certainly in human nature. To this, we might add an inveterate tendency to accuse others, to moralise, and use righteousness as a justification for violence.

Even in favourable circumstances, tolerating the presence within oneself of the varieties of guilt with which Freud was concerned is extremely difficult. As well as harsh verdicts and cruel punishments, it can have a thallium-like quality that makes it the negative of what we need to be alive. These qualities make their avoidance imperative; and consequently, guilt has great power and influence both in society and an individual life. Thus the shapes and forms of guilt, and bad conscience, are protean, mistresses and masters of mendacity and disguise, of self-exoneration as well as self-punishment. They are not all justified, for example, by appeal to injury or bad experience. Not all are moral. Not all are even quite sane.

If we are to survive, we must find how to accept an obligation to come to know more of this propensity - or at the least, to seriously consider its possibility.

Thus this Conference will consider the many different varieties and guises of guilt, what occasions them, and their part in mental life from the cradle to the grave.
Organised By:UCL Psychoanalysis Unit
Web Link:
Sign up for our new titles email   Sign up to our postal mailing list   Sign up for postal updates