Presentation: Guilt & shame

Correlates with p. 40 of the Participant workbook.

What is guilt?

  • Guilt is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrongdoing, etc., whether real or imagined. 
  • Guilt is a judgement—a feeling we've done something wrong, even if we're not responsible.  
  • It can be a constructive feeling if it leads to mending damage done, but can be unproductive if the burden is taken on and isn't warranted. 
What is shame? 

  • Shame is the standards we set for ourselves and our perception of ourselves. 
  • Shame often shows when we think we have done something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc. 
  • The term covers both chronic ('I'm always a loser') and acute experiences of embarrassment, humiliation, and worthlessness. 
  • Shame is an inward feeling that can become an all-encompassing judgement of self—'I am damaged goods', 'This is what I am', 'I am bad', 'I am shameful'.  This is in contrast to guilt, which involves a judgement of an action or actions— 'I've done something bad'. If a person sees or believes themselves 'to be shameful', then, when problems present, their whole being can be threatened, and they can become quickly overwhelmed. 
Points about shame: 
  • Shame is developed in early childhood (by age 3-5). 
  • Shame can exist before a child is verbal (thus hard to articulate).
  • It is more arousing—a 'bigger feeling' than guilt. 
  • Shame suggests something wrong with me (vs. something I have done wrong). 
  • Shame provokes hiding (vs. making amends or reparations). 

Pathways of shame:  

Another way of understanding this concept is to understand how 'shame-prone' men cope with shame. The term shame-prone is used here given that the childhood abuse the men have experienced suggests that most, if not all, of the participants have experienced considerable shame in their lives.   

 

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Last modified: Friday, 7 April 2017, 3:22 PM