Dobby Effect, Do you Feel Guilty about Everything?

Do you feel guilty about everything? Do you self-punish? Maybe you will suffer what we know today as “Dobby effect”.


If we know the world of Harry Potter, the name of Dobby will sound familiar to us. Dobby is a domestic elf who tends to hurt himself when he does not live up to the expectations of his masters (or thinks he is not fulfilling them). This, although it tries to be a comic scene, horrifies those around it. Because, who would want to hurt himself? However, this is a reality that many people also live. That is why it has become popularized in some way as the Dobby effect.

The Dobby effect is closely related to the way the endearing elf treats himself. Feeling guilty for having done something that goes against our values ​​or that we label as “bad” is, to a certain extent, normal. The problem comes when we constantly punish ourselves because we feel guilty about everything. Here is a much bigger problem. We are taking over responsibility.

The excess of guilt

In the society in which we live there are different reasons why we can feel guilt without having real reasons for it. On many occasions, guilt often arises because we do not meet the expectations of others or what society expects from us. Let’s see some examples that will allow us to understand this better:

  • Being a bad mother: many women suffer from what is known as postpartum depression. This makes them feel guilty since, in theory, being a mother should correspond with an “absolute happiness”. Thus, in cases in which this expectation is not filled, which are many, guilt may appear.
  • Deserve the blows of the couple: battered people usually justify the physical damage of their partners due to actions or attitudes that they have had. In this way, they are not able to leave them because they are the ones to blame, as pointed out by Autoinculpación in women who suffer abuse from their partners. Factors involved.

There are many more scenarios in which a person can identify with the Dobby effect. The woman who is going through postpartum depression feeds her feeling guilty. The person who is mistreated does the same to justify the damage he is receiving. In fact, it is a way of indirect self-flagellation. It is not she who is hurting herself, she allows someone else to do it for her.

“I have a great complex of guilt when it comes to promoting my work, so much so that every time I’ve been about to open a sample, I had some kind of attack. So at one point I decided not to try again.”

-Louise Bourgeois-

The responsibility in the Dobby effect

Guilt does not have to be harmful. However, it happens to be when it becomes the engine of a punishment without any purpose beyond that of experiencing suffering. A guilt that becomes perverse when it ends with our assertiveness, allowing others to harm us. Dobby had exactly that.

Sometimes, this responsibility that we carry on our shoulders is born in our childhood. Maybe our parents overturned all their frustrations. Maybe they told us again and again that we did not deserve this or that. All this has been staying in our mind and, as we grow, we learn to anticipate that “you are to blame” or “you have done wrong”. We are in charge of flogging ourselves.

Despite all this, you can get out of this Dobby effect. The best way is doing a job that allows us to improve our self-esteem. Once we get to improve that concept we have of ourselves, we can start to be more flexible with our mistakes. But, above all, we will stop extending our responsibility beyond where it arrives.

If you feel that you are trapped in a kind of cave and the fault is the echo, if you have felt identified with the Dobby effect, do not hesitate and put yourself in the hands of a professional.

Your internal dialogue will improve and the way you treat yourself, protecting yourself against such dangerous phenomena as the emotional dependence of people who are willing to satisfy their interests with our most vulnerable side.