The Psychological Effects of Guilt
Guilt is not only defined as “a feeling of self-reproach from believing that one has done a wrong;” but it plays a major part in how a person can psychologically handle their thoughts, emotions, and actions. In Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hasseini, the effects that guilt can have are shown through the events in Amir’s life. After seeing his closest friend, Hassan, brutally raped in an alleyway, he punishes himself to deal with his shame. Throughout the novel, Amir’s character develops while struggling through an internal battle where he deals with his past mistakes; this conflict shows the immediate psychological effects of guilt, like insomnia, and the long term effects, like the ongoing climb toward one’s redemption.
Amir experiences many psychological problems, like insomnia, directly after witnessing Hassan being raped by Assef. According to Siamak T. Nabil, insomnia is “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or both/ or the perception of poor quality of sleep” and can be caused by “stressful situations in like (exam. Preparation, loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, or separation.)” The stress that Amir d¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬eals with prevents him from functioning regularly. For example, after hitting Hassan with a pomegranate he says “hit me back goddamn you! I wished he would. I wished he’d give me the punishment I craved, so that maybe I’d finally sleep at night.” (92). The author shows that Amir is aware that his selfish personality caused the outcome
of Hassan’s life. Though he attempts to block the event out of his mind, this idea he has is ultimately his drive for the need of punishment.
In a Journal of Mental Health, Stephen Parker explains that “the absence of empathy that was striking about the presence of shame, Tangney theorized that this might because shame is such a painful and overwhelming experience that it naturally draws focus.” With this statement, Parker makes the point that it is...
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