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Deconstructing 'Guilt' and 'Shame'

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

"Guilt is the inner experience of breaking the moral code. Shame is the inner experience of being looked down upon by the social group." (Fossum and Mason, 1986: Facing Shame)

We tend to overlap 'guilt' and 'shame' in therapy. But, one can improve their skills in separately identifying the both of them, by examining the following definitions of the two emotions:

Guilt: internal sense of malevolent power, a feeling of deep personal destructiveness

Shame: powerless vulnerability, chronic risk of exposure to the criticism of others

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