What Everyone Ought To Know
About Shame And Guilt
In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry it was found that an important brain area involved in emotion— the right anterior insula— is smaller in school-aged children diagnosed with depression as preschool-aged children, and can predict risk of future struggles with depression.
Innocently, we define shame and guilt through our experiences, the opinions of others, and our culture. Our behavioral choices concerning them stem from our definitions. The majority of cultures identify unworthiness and wrongdoings with the words shame and guilt. We perceive guilt as I did something bad and the need to repent. In contrast, we perceive the word shame as I am bad. Throughout the ages, we have amassed many definitions for the origin and meaning of shame and guilt, which abound with biblical, mythological, and spiritual overtones. Eastern and Western cultures, as well as their subcultures, proclaim opposing definitions. They can be considered good, bad, healthy, or toxic. No surprise that we reinforce its cycle of abuse.
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“I count him lost, who is lost to shame.” Carl Jung
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” Tjitus Maccius Plautus
“We but half express ourselves and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.” Ralph Waldo Emerson