On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People... How do you deal with your feelings of guilt towards the victims of Gaza?

2023-11-28 2023-11-28T23:25:21Z
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Weather of Arabia - Today the world unites and raises the flag in solidarity with the Palestinian people on the International Day of “Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” scheduled for November 29 since 1979.

This date was chosen specifically because of the important connotations it has for the Palestinian people. On the same date in the year 1947, the decision to partition Palestine was issued. This day is considered an opportunity to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and draw the attention of the international community to the fact that the Palestinian issue is still unresolved to this day and nothing has happened. The Palestinian people still have their rights.

On this day and this moment, if you are wondering inside yourself, “Why do I live and others die?” You feel guilty for what is happening to the Palestinian people at the present time, and in Gaza in particular. You often suffer from a survivor’s complex.

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Survivor complex

If you are among the individuals who anxiously follow the news bulletins, pictures and video clips that show the brutal aggression of the Israeli occupation army on the Gaza Strip, and you experience feelings of sadness and sympathy as you follow the stories of the martyrs and the injured, and feel the suffering that the survivors are experiencing after the water and electricity are cut off, and even deprived of the simplest necessities of life. Like food, drink, and medicine, you may be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt because of your situation, which could be much better than the reality of others. Going about your daily life can become difficult, especially when you realize that someone is struggling to get the basics of life such as shelter, food, drink and treatment.

If you wonder, “Why do I live so well while others suffer?” and feel guilt, shame, remorse, and discomfort, you may be suffering from a “survivor complex” or “survivor guilt syndrome.” This term refers to a psychological condition experienced by individuals who have survived harsh experiences, and was proposed by psychoanalyst William Nederlund during his work with Holocaust survivors.

Research shows that “guilt complexes” cause a range of psychological and physical symptoms in survivors, including emotional distress, negative self-view, low self-esteem, existential questions, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and counterfactual thinking such as “I wish I had done...” "I wish I had such and such."

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Feelings of guilt and helplessness

Psychological consultant, Ahmed Al-Issa, explains the reason for the feelings of guilt that accompany watching the news in Gaza, saying, “The feeling of guilt and helplessness stems from the principles that the person embraces, and when these principles are not seen to be fulfilled, feelings of guilt and helplessness appear, which worsen over time, and generate a feeling of frustration.” The longer the war continues with the inability to provide assistance to the victims and achieve justice, safety and security, the more these feelings will become worse.”

Al-Issa explained that “following the news, whether with a positive outlook awaiting relief and victory for the Palestinians, or with a negative outlook following the number of dead, wounded, and displaced people, greatly affects individuals, which generates feelings of guilt and leads them to enter into a state of obsessive behavior to follow events moment by moment, and they feel that they must Spend as much time as possible following the news.”

He added that this compulsive behavior affects aspects of individuals' daily lives, as it affects their psychological health and their relationships with family and work colleagues, and they become more isolated. It is ineffective behavior as it makes the suffering extend to everyone, not just the people of Gaza.

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Solidarity guilt

"Solidarity guilt" is considered a form of guilt complex, and it can explain the feelings that Arabs and Muslims experience in their solidarity with the people of Gaza. Tamim Moubayed, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, points out that solidarity guilt emerges when victims are part of a group with a shared collective identity, such as a shared religion or shared nationality. In this case, the survivor feels that he must share the fate of those individuals from the group to which he belongs.

He explains that this feeling of guilt arises from continuing to witness the group’s suffering and its inability to achieve justice and peace, and prompts the individual to think about the extent of his personal or societal contribution to improving the situation. Solidarity guilt is a normal psychological reaction to catastrophic and tragic events, and represents a kind of motivation to act and have a positive impact on society.

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Do not compare yourself to the people of Gaza

Given the resilience and patience of the people of Gaza in the face of the challenges and attacks they face, the catastrophic psychological impact of wars cannot be ignored. The impact of wars appears on the psychological and physical levels through increased rates of severe depression, panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorders, and others. Despite the strength of determination and resilience shown by the people of Gaza, observers from afar find it difficult to fully understand this experience.

Psychological consultant Ahmed Al-Issa stresses that wars leave a major psychological impact on children in Gaza. Children in this context deal with their reality differently, as they are raised with the idea that death is martyrdom, and that Israel is their arch enemy. Al-Issa confirms that the recurrence of attacks and the loss of loved ones in bombing greatly affects their souls, and builds psychological shields in them that make the impact of death news on their lives completely different from its impact on those living in safe environments.

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Set times to follow the news

Psychological consultant Ahmed Al-Issa suggests avoiding intense follow-up of the news during periods of war. It suggests that some people may spend more than 10 hours a day following developments, exposing themselves to repeating traumatic scenes with no mechanism to channel those feelings or help victims. They preferably have a plan to put those negative feelings to positive use, whether through reaching out to victims or participating in aid and solidarity efforts.

Change your question

Psychiatrist Tali Berliner suggests changing the question from, "Why do they suffer and I don't?" to “How can I move forward and take advantage of my privileges?”, noting that rephrasing the questions helps break the cycle of guilt and identify a new path. It is encouraged to develop questions that help determine the desired life and type of person we want to become.

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine confirmed that feelings of guilt can push survivors to make radical positive changes in their lives, and change their outlook on the things they went through, including considering their survival for a specific purpose, which includes adopting the causes of the victims and sharing their stories, or engaging in Efforts to make the world more just.

Offer help

One of the main tips for overcoming a guilt complex is to channel feelings of helplessness and guilt into positive and effective actions. It is recommended to provide assistance to victims or anyone who needs it. You can participate in volunteer campaigns for charities providing aid to the victims of Gaza, donate money to support humanitarian efforts, spread awareness about their cause using the platforms provided by your skills and resources, or even pray for them.

It is enough to help as much as you can, even if your efforts are simple. The goal is to feel like you've done something positive that can make a difference, even in a small way.


Source: Al Jazeera + websites

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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