Guilt

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By Caryll Houselander

On its surface, few books better warrant the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself,” than Caryll Houselander’s Guilt. An analysis of neurosis by a self-proclaimed neurotic, Guilt explicates a novel form of suffering: ego-neurosis. A “disease of the soul,” ego-neurosis is a “thrusting forward of the self; it may take the form of self-analysis, self-defense, self-obsession, self-aggrandizement, humiliation in being self, self-frustration or countless others…grounded in self-love.” Exploring the root causes of this neurosis and its manifestations (scrupulosity, aberrant sexual behavior, hypochondria, and other assorted manias), Houselander offers a challenging reading of human nature, and one decidedly reserved for a mature readership. Its somber subject notwithstanding, Guilt concludes on the deeply hopeful note of the revitalizing power of the Incarnation: “Christ [took] all the suffering of guilt on himself, wedding himself to our sorrow, and offering the sacrifice of his own death on the cross.”

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that guilt is a reality, that we feel guilty because we are guilty, but that the feeling has been misplaced, dislocated from its true cause, and is seeking some cause to which to attach itself. (Caryll Houselander)

Redeeming its near-macabre fascination with psychological malformation by an abiding compassion for its sufferers and unshakeable faith that their salvation has been secured, Guilt stands as a sweepingly imaginative diagnosis of what ails mankind which sets the light of the divine Physician against the shadow of evil.

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Caryll Houselander (1901–1954) was an English Roman Catholic artist, author, poet, and mystic. A convert at age six, Houselander left the Church as a teenager, return­ing as a young adult and becoming a fixture in twentieth-century Catholicism. In addition to her artistic and literary work, she dedicated her relatively brief life to caring for the poor and desolate. Her books include The Reed of God, The Way of the Cross, and The Dry Wood.

Paperback: 256pp.

ISBN: 978-1685950866