Guilt and Shame

(in conversation with Margot Kelley)

I once heard someone say:
     ‘If you are not ashamed, after the fact,
     then you’re not having enough fun!’

I think of guilt as an extreme form of regret.
Margot Kelley suggests that guilt
     is associated with the violation of social mores,
     such as lying, cheating or stealing.

From the point of view of natural selection,
     guilt provides an emotional reminder
     for controlling socially inappropriate, 
     or self-defeating, actions.

Sociopaths often admit to little or no remorse 
     for pain or death inflicted on their victims.

Shame, we believe, is more related to dishonor.
Individuals, even families, can become dishonored
     in a social network demanding conforming behavior.

Shame is often the result of intentional, or unintended, hurtful behavior 
     that causes pain in others, especially in a relationship.

Our feelings of shame tend to be more intense 
     than those we associate with guilt. 
And we tend to hold on to them longer, 
     perhaps due to our intractable sense of self-importance.
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