Imagine a child whose father has been off traveling away from home for a period of time. On Friday night the son or daughter goes to bed. The father returns home after the child was in bed. The next morning, when awakening, the parents are already up and the father gives to the child a wonderful, shiny, extra special, skipping rope. The parents go outdoors to do some work in the garden leaving the child to watch TV, have snacks, and play with the skipping rope. As the child is doing so he twirls it up around his head and the skipping rope accidentally touched the top of a lamp which falls over and breaks. Even at a young age children realize they are not supposed to break things. He feels guilty.
Just at that moment the child hears the parents coming through the door. How does he feel? In this case I expected he would be anxious and fearful, expecting perhaps to be criticized, punished, sent to his room, rejected, or have other forms of bad treatment. Notice, that this point we do not know how the parents would react. It may be that the parents will say,”We have budgeted for you to cause damage at $500 per year, and you’re way behind in your damage costs. Besides which, I never really liked that lamp your mother’s mother gave it to us.” Notice that this is not even relevant. It does not matter whether the parents are critical or not; the child experiences the feelings of anticipation all bad outcomes, punishment, criticism, rejection, etc. because of his feelings of guilt. Thus, a person feeling guilt, may not recognize it but will almost always have an increase in feelings of anxiety, fears and could ultimately develop paranoia.