Parallel returns: Feelings, temporality and narrative in the experience of guilt

Zoe Boden, Virginia Eatough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article tentatively sketches out a model of guilt. It is based on hermeneutic-phenomenological analyses of five men’s accounts of feeling guilty and is informed by phenomenological and narrative theory. The model maps how guilt unfolds through time in a looping, iterative manner. Initially, guilt feelings are overwhelming and immediate such that time seems to collapse. The guilt process then unfolds into two parallel returns, temporal loops wherein an individual first relives his or her guilt feelings (a bodily return) and then renarrates the experience (a narrative return) in numerous iterations in an attempt to make sense of what has happened. The final phase maps the resolution: as the narrative becomes more adequate, sense-making becomes easier, and bodily experience is incorporated into overarching life narratives in a process of synthesis. When this happens, the experience shifts from feeling stuck to progression. Mapping guilt in this way offers insight into the interplay among temporality, feelings, and narrative in this particular experience but may also provide a framework to consider how it is possible to work through other difficult emotional experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-52
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Psychology on 14/2/19, available online:


  • Embodiment
  • Guilt
  • feelings
  • narrative
  • phenomenology
  • temporality


Dive into the research topics of 'Parallel returns: Feelings, temporality and narrative in the experience of guilt'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this