Self - esteem, guilt and parenting are all entwined for Dawn, a single mother of one. About a year ago, she'd just left an abusive marriage, she was in treatment for alcoholism and her self - esteem was at an all - time low. "Some days I felt -- and still feel -- completely overwhelmed by guilt, so much so that I questioned my ability to parent," she recalls. Dawn needed help, and guilt (along with the urging of a good friend) was one of the things that got her to make the first move.
Guilt and shame are generally considered to be related but separate emotion states that can be organized into emotion-based personality traits (Malatesta & Wilson, 1988; Tangney & Fischer, 1995). Guilt and shame are similar in that they are negative, self-conscious, moral emotions occasioned by similar transgressions or failures, and therefore they commonly co-exist (Tangney & Fischer, 1995).
The relationship between religion and guilt not only features in the psychology of religion literature but also as an interest in the clinical and counselling literature. Nayani and Bhugra (1996) note that the psychiatrist/therapist is likely to encounter the religiosity -guilt dynamic in a number of contexts. They highlight the role of guilt in depressive disorders (see Berrios et al., 1992), how delusional guilt can dominate the therapeutic process (see Hamilton, 1982), and how pathological guilt can occur as part of a response to grief (Parkes, 1991).
Augoustinos and LeCouteur (2004) add that Searle, in his 1969 book, argues further that apologies usually go beyond merely acknowledging responsibility and regret (even though a sincere expression of sorrow or regret was deemed to be crucial for a genuine apology by Searle, 1976). Apologies are usually made with the further illocutionary point of allowing the apologizer to be freed from guilt (see also Iyer, Leach, & Pedersen, 2004).
However, while fear is often a dominant affect in the formation and maintenance of PTSD, other affects such as anger, shame, guilt and sadness are frequently associated with the traumatic event. Furthermore, the affects of shame and guilt in particular can be very disabling, in so far as they affect the experience of the self and social behaviour, contribute to later psychopathology, effect help-seeking (Andrews, 1995, 1998; Gilbert, 1997), impede emotional processing of the event (Brewin, Dalgleish & Joseph, 1996; Joseph, Williams & Yule, 1997; Riggs, Dancu, Gershuny, Greenberg & Foa, 1992) and may seriously disrupt the therapeutic effects of imaginal exposure.
All in all, guilt motivates people to apologize, to attempt to make amends, to try to repair damage to relationships, to confess and seek forgiveness, and to change their behavior in order to please and satisfy their relationship partners. Too much guilt, though, is no panacea. It can actually cause people to abandon a relationship to avoid unpleasant feelings.
What is it about women and guilt? Dr. Harriet Gold - hor Lerner, the American psychologist who wrote the best - selling self - help manuals Dance of Anger and Dance of Intimacy, believes that guilt is an epidemic among women today. She quotes a joke she heard from another female psychologist: "Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty, and I'll show you a man." Freudian psychologists associate guilt feelings with a child's fear of losing parental love, and women tend to remain more dependent on affection and approval than men.
The guilt of the working mother is easy to understand. After all, society did send us a message that it was all right to be a brain surgeon but you better make bloody well sure your floors are clean and your kids are perfect because, if they're not, you will get the blame.
In fact, the more Facebook friends one touts on his profile, the guiltier and more anxious that person feels, according to a recent study by Scottish researchers. The February 2011 study, conducted by psychologists at Edinburgh Napier University, finds 12% of respondents reporting Facebook-related anxiety each averaged 117 friends compared to those remaining 88% of anxiety-free respondents each averaging 75 friends.
A growing measure of responsible opinion argues convincingly that had religion been doing the job it should have done, psychiatry would never have arisen as a profession. Proponents of this view say that the problem is generally not a guilt complex. The problem is guilt. Depression, anxiety, hostility, fear, tension and, in more serious cases, psychosis are really ailments of the conscience -- symptoms that result from violating the conscience’s promptings and refusing to live honestly and responsibly.