Hal Sampson and Joe Weis, founders of the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group, created a method of psychology called Control Mastery to help clients control their dysfunctional patterns. Control Mastery has a theory about the nature of guilt which ties in closely with the development of eating disorders, addictions, and other mental ills.
Because a child has little experience of the world outside of herself, she sees herself at the center of the universe. She unconsciously assumes that she is responsible for what happens in the family. Also, being dependent on her parents, she can’t see anything wrong with their behavior. For her, they are like gods. In what Carl Winnicott, an English pediatrician and psychologist, terms a “Good Enough” family, the parents take responsibility for their actions, and treat the child with caring and respect. She soon understands that she is a child and not responsible for the family’s ups and downs.
In a dysfunctional family, a child creates magical and unrealistic concepts about her world. When things go wrong, she blames herself. Lewis Engel and Tom Ferguson are authors of Imaginary Crimes, a book based on the Control Mastery approach. They state: “As children, we became unconsciously convinced that we were responsible for the sufferings, disappointments, and inadequacies of our parents and siblings. We then convict ourselves of ‘Imaginary Crimes.’” Engel and Ferguson discuss many types of unconscious guilt. One of these, “Basic Badness.”
Have you ever felt that there is something deeply and irrevocably wrong with you, right down to the marrow of your bones? This is Basic Badness, unconscious guilt that pierces the soul far more deeply than a lack of self-esteem.