RE: Psychology Addict # 61 | Talking About Guilt.
Secondary human emotions like shame and guilt tend to be less understood in science then to their primary (or basic) emotion counterparts. This often makes them similarly hard to understand for the general public as well. Shame and guilt are probably among the most misunderstood of all the emotions so they are often used synonymously. I think you did a good job distinguishing between them in your article though. Guilt relates to the individuals behavior, whereas shame relates to the individual's self concept. It seems that there may be some overlap there with regret from the Buddhist perspective. But shame and guilt are so close to one another in concept, and they interact with each other so they can be very confusing for people. Many counselors feel that shame is actually the hardest emotion to work with of all the emotions because it's not the persons behavior that you are working with but their view of themselves. "I hurt a person" (guilt) is easier to rectify then "I'm an awful person" (shame). Behaviors can be rectified in many ways (apology, pentance, even compensation) but self concepts often arent as easily adjusted. I think you did a good job by pointing out that it's best to focus on the actions and behavior that are causing the discomfort rather then the self. that way the individual can move from a place of shame to a place of guilt. Well done!
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