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 Post subject: WEGG Question #15 - Guilt & Shame
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:24 am 
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Discuss the struggle with feeling ashamed of family members, loved ones, or ourselves.

What causes shame?

Often, people equate shame with guilt.

Are they the same?

What are the effects of equating the two?

Do you think that shame has a more powerful affect on us than guilt? Why or why not?



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:53 am 
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Many questions.

What's causing shame in the Grape family, the biggest shame in the family is Momma, which has let herself become the person she is. Gilbert tries to hide his shame for his mother. This was a hard question, have to think a little more about the shame.... I also think Gilbert is ashamed of his little brother (Arnie) and sister (Ellen). Ellen is acting like the family doesn't excist, and that makes Gilbert ashamed of Ellen. Gilbert is ashamed of having a retard brother, but I think he also is proud of having a brother which doesn't care about what he is doing. Amy may be shamed about Gilbert, about the way he is acting sometimes (to Tucker and to the town), but also proud over how he deals with things (which is beside the point)

All the sisters and brothers probably feels shame about there mother ( except Arnie) and the same way guilt, that they havn't helped there mother, struggled even more against their mothers eating problem. They probably could have stopped her, if they had worked hard.

I think guilt has the most powerfull affect on us. Because a big guilt can break a persons heart, if they never talk about it. Shame is something which can hunts you, but probably will go away after a while. Guilt will always be there (or depends on the case) and after many years with the same guilt you will get broke.

it was hard to answer, and probably a lot I can take with, and you ladies, has probably more clue what to answer :lol:

~ Susanne



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:38 am 
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Iceflower wrote:
I think guilt has the most powerfull affect on us. Because a big guilt can break a persons heart, if they never talk about it. Shame is something which can hunts you, but probably will go away after a while. Guilt will always be there (or depends on the case) and after many years with the same guilt you will get broke.


Thanks for starting us off, Iceflower. This is a good point that you make. Guilt does last longer than shame. Shame we can more easily get over because it focuses on how others see us and will pass. Guilt is more about how we see ourselves. And I think we can be much harder on ourselves.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:44 am 
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Liz and Iceflower, I agree. I'm thinking guilt is more self-imposed and shame is more externally imposed. It's easier to tune out others than tune out ourselves.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:49 am 
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Wow, Liz! We couldn't just ease into the week with an easy one? We have to start Monday morning with analyzing guilt versus shame? Iceflower, great answer to a very hard question - or questions, I should say. I'm nowhere close to satisfied with what I've thought through to put down here, but here go a few thoughts.

It seems that in order to feel shame, we must have a comparison to an accepted social norm of some sort. As long as we are fed and clothed and cared for, the only way to be ashamed is in feeling we don't measure up to some standard. This can be a very powerful force, especially for children seeking to fit in with their peers.

When we feel guilt, we are blaming ourselves for some bad action or happening (whether we actually had anything to do with it or not). It is not so much a failure to measure up as an indictment of ourselves for failing to take action or for acting in some way that we feel resulted in something terrible happening. Bonnie and all the Grape children - even Ellen - must have felt terrible guilt over Albert's suicide.

Thus, shame and guilt are not the same thing, though both have very powerful effects on our lives. I agree with Iceflower that guilt is the more powerful. When the source of our shame is ended or corrected, the memory of that shame should fade. But with guilt, we have to start on the bottom rung of the ladder of self respect and try to convince ourselves that we do not really deserve to be there - and that is a hard thing to do.

Great question, Liz.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:57 am 
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Liz wrote:
Iceflower wrote:
I think guilt has the most powerfull affect on us. Because a big guilt can break a persons heart, if they never talk about it. Shame is something which can hunts you, but probably will go away after a while. Guilt will always be there (or depends on the case) and after many years with the same guilt you will get broke.


Thanks for starting us off, Iceflower. This is a good point that you make. Guilt does last longer than shame. Shame we can more easily get over because it focuses on how others see us and will pass. Guilt is more about how we see ourselves. And I think we can be much harder on ourselves.


:cool:



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:03 am 
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Whoa, this is a lot for Monday morning but I can manage. :lol:

Shame is an internal feeling because you impose it on yourself. You feel shame when you don't fit into the crowd because you feel like you are a loser and you are ashamed by the fact that you don't fit in. Gilbert is ashamed of his family because he feels his family isn't normal. They are all ashamed of their mom who did what she did to herself. They never really get over the shame of their father's suicide. Ellen is shamed because she thinks her family isn't normal either so her and Gilbert both tune everyone out.


We feel guilt because we have done something wrong to ourselves or to other people. So this feeling sticks with us for a long time until we confess what happened. Guilt is powerful because it can eat you alive. It makes you stress and stress can kill you. They all feel guilty that their father committed suicide because they think it was their fault.

Therefore shame and guilt are not the same because you may feel shame because of something but feeling guilt is because you have done something to feel guilty about.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:48 pm 
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Bix wrote:
Wow, Liz! We couldn't just ease into the week with an easy one? We have to start Monday morning with analyzing guilt versus shame? Iceflower, great answer to a very hard question - or questions, I should say. I'm nowhere close to satisfied with what I've thought through to put down here, but here go a few thoughts.

It seems that in order to feel shame, we must have a comparison to an accepted social norm of some sort. As long as we are fed and clothed and cared for, the only way to be ashamed is in feeling we don't measure up to some standard. This can be a very powerful force, especially for children seeking to fit in with their peers.


You know me, Bix. I always ask the tough questions. :capnjack:

I really like your definition of shame. I think the key here is that it is tied to a standard or accepted social norm. And as SamIam said, one is ashamed when she doesn't fit into the crowd, in essence not being accepted by society.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:52 pm 
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I don't think shame should be equated with guilt because, as some have said, shame is a result of not meeting society's norms, something over which you may have no control. Guilty people have done something wrong. Momma should feel guilty. The rest of the family feel shame. To equate the two would be to place blame on people who are ashamed of their circumstances but may have no choice.
As far as the most powerful effect on us, I guess it just depends. The guilt, as was mentioned, can be cleansed by confessing and making up for it; otherwise, it could destroy. Getting rid of shame might depend on the actions of those who make you feel ashamed or toughening up enough to handle it and change your circumstances, but you aren't necessarily able to do this on your own.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:45 pm 
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Liz You are testing my brain power today. I had to think about this awhile.

Discuss the struggle with feeling ashamed of family members, loved ones, or ourselves.
Betty Sue said Momma should feel guilt and the family shame. This may be true but Momma obviously also feels shame. We really don't know if Momma should feel guilty about Albert on is a victim. She may fell guilt about Arnie or guilt about gaining the weight but she is more ashamed to be seen.

What causes shame? Shame is embarrassment at the way others see you. Momma has it and so do her whole family.

Often, people equate shame with guilt.

This is true. The towns people treat the Grapes with distain thinking that they are the cause of their predicament. They are ashamed to be seen as friends with the Grapes.

Are shame and guilt the same? No but sometimes they need the other to exist.

What are the effects of equating the two?

Shame can be the result of guilt but it is not necessary to have guilt to feel shame.
The children feel more embarrased than ashamed. In other words they are not the cause but bear the consequences.

Do you think that shame has a more powerful affect on us than guilt? Why or why not? Both can have a powerful effect. I suppose it depends on what you are guilty of or why you feel shame.
Momma has both and they are powerful enough to ruin her life. The children feel both but can still recover.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:09 pm 
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Betty Sue wrote:
As far as the most powerful effect on us, I guess it just depends. The guilt, as was mentioned, can be cleansed by confessing and making up for it; otherwise, it could destroy. Getting rid of shame might depend on the actions of those who make you feel ashamed or toughening up enough to handle it and change your circumstances, but you aren't necessarily able to do this on your own.


Betty Sue, I do think it depends on the circumstances causing the shame. It also depends on the individual’s ability to handle the views of others or how secure the individual is within herself. I think it might be the same for guilt. I think we can shed guilt if we are secure enough in ourselves or if we have made amends somehow, like others have said.

Gemini wrote:
This is true. The towns people treat the Grapes with distain thinking that they are the cause of their predicament. They are ashamed to be seen as friends with the Grapes.

Shame can be the result of guilt but it is not necessary to have guilt to feel shame.
The children feel more embarrased than ashamed. In other words they are not the cause but bear the consequences.



I agree. The Grape children are blamed by association. I think in many cases, because of ignorance, whole families are lumped together—not seen as individuals.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:46 pm 
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While I don't think guilt and shame are the same thing, I do think they are often linked. My own personal experience was that as a child I was ashamed because my brother was mentally handicapped and because other children extended their cruelty beyond him and onto myself and my other siblings.

I knew his handicap was no one's fault and that children are cruel sometimes because they are afraid of anyone who is different. There were times when I hated my brother because I would be excluded at times for no other reason than I belonged to the same family. I suffered enormous guilt about feeling this way and as I mentioned earlier I would always defend him, but at the same time I felt very angry because he got me into a lot of fights.

So I think it is sometimes very difficult to separate guilt and shame. I think whilst Momma is ashamed by her appearance, she also feels guilty because she knows her family are at times ashamed of her. Both her guilt and her shame starts and finishes with herself.

Gilbert on the other hand, I think he experiences something closer to my feelings. Not so much about Arnie, but certainly about Momma and possibly his father. He feels ashamed of Momma and suffers a lot of guilt for having these feelings. One thing I do know for sure, it is possible to feel ashamed of someone and still love them deeply.

I remember once discussing this with my mother, and me being reduced to tears because I knew she knew there were times when I was embarrassed by my brother. However, she never added to my guilt, but instead told me how proud she was of me for my constant defence of my brother.

Hope you don't mind me put such a personal slant on this topic, but it is hard to remain objective on an issue like this.



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:23 pm 
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deppstergal wrote:
Hope you don't mind me put such a personal slant on this topic, but it is hard to remain objective on an issue like this.


Deppstergal, we welcome anyone to put a personal spin on the questions. It serves to enhance the discussion because it makes it real. Thanks for bringing out that having shame can result in guilt. :cool:



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:38 pm 
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Agreed, deppstergal. You have given us some real life insights to help us understand and we appreciate that. :angel:

Great question today, Liz and great answers Noodlemantras!
:cool:



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:39 am 
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Great answers, everyone.

Being ashamed of someone you are involved with is selfish and egotistical. You feel that others will think less of you because your mother/brother/husband/friend is fat/disabled/alcoholic/toothless.

And lots of times, they do. Like it or not, we do form our self judgments from how others see and react to us. Having someone near to you be an object of scorn or ridicule is is PERSONALLY painful, not just a pain suffered on their behalf. And you are often angry and embarrassed by your loved one.

Being ashamed of them does bring on guilt, because, whether they bring about their own troubles or are visited by fate, they deserve support and compassion. And that brings on self-loathing, which corroborates what you feel the "others" think about you.



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