Shame vs. Guilt

If I had a dirham for every time I was told “shame on you” as a kid…

So apparently, saying “shame on you” or something equivalent to that is extremely destructive.

According to Wikipedia, the “dividing line between the concepts of shame, guilt and embarrassment is not fully standardized.”  Many people use guilt and shame interchangeably, but from a psychological perspective, they actually refer to different experiences.

Quoting from Wikipedia:

“Psychoanalyst Helen B. Lewis argued that ‘The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done is the focus.’  Similarly, Fossum and Mason say in their book Facing Shame that ‘While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one’s actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person.’”

So why is it important to distinguish between the two when you want to call someone out on a misdeed? She says it better than I can:

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