Overview: Shame, Guilt, and Alcoholism
The concept of guilt has been reworked to emphasize its prosocial derivation from empathy and altruism and its adaptive, non-pathogenic aspects. True, guilt serves the Freudian function of aggression control, but that effort now seems more positive, less the begrudging need to control one's desires to avoid punishment and more a positive wish not to cause harm to those who are loved. The details of shame have been investigated, with particular emphasis upon the connection between shame and rage. A little shame, even though it might feel terrible, motivates people to find better ways to fit in with others and even to do things that bring them pride. Instead of falling short, guilty individuals believe they have gone too far, violating a social norm or family rule. Guilt "feelings" are more cognitive than visceral, a collection of painful thoughts in which the pain is not strictly physical.