WEGG Question #15 - Guilt & Shame

by Peter Hedges

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suec
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Unread postby suec » Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:43 pm

Well, this is a head-scratcher. I would say that Gilbert feels guilty when, for instance, he has to face Mr Carver, but shame after he has hit Arnie. I couldn't really say why, though, so I took refuge in my dictionary, where I learned that "guilt is a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation", whereas shame is a "painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour". I am not that sure I am any the wiser. But I do think that shame is a stronger feeling, more intense, which is why I chose it for that Arnie moment where Gilbert feels he is beyond hate for himself. For this kind of shame, that comes from the definition above, perhaps it arises from our own values and standards, such as the fact that Gilbert sees himself as Arnie's protector.
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Gilbert's Girl
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:09 pm

Like you Sue I also found it a bit of a puzzler which is why I haven't answered it :lol:

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:24 pm

I think those are two excellent examples, suec. And the dictionary can be a good refuge sometimes! :cool:
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:03 pm

I tried an online dictionary which gave me some stuff that ended with each word referencing the other as a synonym. :banghead: So I will go on my own gut feeling.

Guilt is based on self. It is a sense of having made a mistake. I think true guilt must be attached to an intention to do wrong, although on an emotional level it is possible to "feel" guilty without actually being guilty. Guilt in its truist form is mainly mental, a realistic evaluation of one's behavior. Guilt can be addressed by asking forgiveness or by doing something to make ammends for the misdeed. It is possible to "feel guilty" for someone else's actions, but I think the feeling would be more appropriately labeled shame.

Shame may be based on self or based on one's extended self (family, friends, community, etc) Shame is emotional and painful. The things one feels shame about are mostly beyond taking action to relieve the pain; you may apologize for the behavior of another family member but it is not within your ability to correct whatever is wrong. Shame makes you feel "less than" and unworthy. Shame is a reaction rather than an action, and it totally makes no difference whether the shame is felt because of something real or imagined.

Gilbert was ashamed of his mother's size; he felt guilty for bringing her so much food.

The problem with guilt and shame is that the emotions are easily confused and both are very painful.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:00 pm

nebraska wrote: The problem with guilt and shame is that the emotions are easily confused and both are very painful.


Very true, nebraska. It has been interesting to discuss the differences between the two but I think we are coming to a consensus?
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:19 pm

suec wrote:Well, this is a head-scratcher. I would say that Gilbert feels guilty when, for instance, he has to face Mr Carver, but shame after he has hit Arnie. I couldn't really say why, though, so I took refuge in my dictionary, where I learned that "guilt is a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation", whereas shame is a "painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour". I am not that sure I am any the wiser. But I do think that shame is a stronger feeling, more intense, which is why I chose it for that Arnie moment where Gilbert feels he is beyond hate for himself. For this kind of shame, that comes from the definition above, perhaps it arises from our own values and standards, such as the fact that Gilbert sees himself as Arnie's protector.


I think guilt causes bad feelings within the self, caused by the self. Whereas, shame is the feeling caused by what you think others are feeling about you. So guilt is inward, shame outward. But guilt can cause shame. Thus, Gilbert feels major guilt for hitting Arnie but also feels shame about it because his family and Arnie are aware he did it.
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