Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze us––or catalyze us into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one's failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression.

Recent posts on Guilt

Get a Grip on Guilt in Three Simple Steps

Guilt is natural because your brain is designed to scan for threats, and social threats are survival threats to the brain we’ve inherited from earlier mammals.

We Don't Know if Dogs Feel Guilt So Stop Saying They Don't

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 22, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Myths about dog behavior abound. Individual differences must be appreciated and it's essential to get things right so dogs and humans can live together as harmoniously as possible.

Man’s Best Friend Meets Man's Best Robot

Scientists have distilled the elements of dogs’ behavioral language for use in robots.

Happy Mother's Day

A little dated? Maybe. But I think you get the idea.

A Human Face on Survival Guilt

Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Here is the story of Sande Boritz Berger's discovery of family history.

Hinda the Hypocrite

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 23, 2016 in How To Do Life
We're often made to feel guilt and shame by people who don't walk their talk.

Does Love Really Mean Never Having to Say You’re Sorry?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 10, 2016 in Talking Apes
Both the victim and the perpetrator bear considerable psychological burdens until the atonement-redemption cycle is complete.

Shame and the Pendulum of Blame

Often, our targets of blame are determined primarily by our states of mind rather than any objective reality.

A Sure-Fire Way to Silence Your Inner Critic

Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to be our own harshest critics. That inner judge can shadow us, scrutinizing our every move and making us quite miserable.

Got Mothering Guilt?

By Amy Tuteur M.D. on March 31, 2016 in Push Back
You shouldn't feel guilty about an epidural, a C-section or formula feeding.

Eco-Indulgences for Eco-Sin?

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on March 28, 2016 in The Green Mind
Climate disruption has arrived and is worsening. Many solutions are possible. Are carbon offsets a viable one, or do they merely alleviate guilt and promote more carbon sin?
Krystine I. Batcho

What Do Your Secret Playlists Reveal About You?

Do your secret playlists bring you the pleasure of private enjoyment or hide aspects of yourself you'd rather not share?
Krystine I. Batcho

Are You Afraid to Be Happy?

Happiness can be elusive, especially for those who fear it.

The Illusion of Free Will and Mental Illness Stigma

Why we prefer needing the help of a neurologist rather than a psychiatrist.

Why Do Certain Foods Seem to Have Power Over Us?

By Gregg McBride on March 12, 2016 in The Weight-ing Game
Sure, I took off 250 pounds of excess weight without pills, surgery or gimmicks. But keeping it off still requires commitment—especially when it comes to certain food groups.
Irina Bg/Shutterstock

What Postpartum Depression Feels Like

Postpartum depression and other mood disorders can have surprising symptoms you might not expect. Real women share what it actually felt like.

Irrational Guilt: How to Put It to Rest

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on February 19, 2016 in Fixing Families
Guilt is the big wagging finger that can forever nag us. But there's two types: rational and irrational. Here's how to tell the difference and put irrational guilt to rest.

Hungry for Answers: Questions about The Walking Dead

Students pose questions about character behavior as it relates to what we know about human behavior.
Anton Zabielskyi/Shutterstock

The Shocking Truth About Hook-Ups

By Michael Castleman M.A. on February 15, 2016 in All About Sex
Myth: Young adults are Tinder-fueled bunnies on steroids. Truth: Twenty-something sex hasn’t changed in 40 years.

Star Wars: Answering the Big Questions

By David Kyle Johnson Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in Plato on Pop
Who are Rey’s parents? Why exactly did Luke go into hiding? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? What’s the deal with Kylo’s lightsaber? Careful reasoning might reveal the answer.

Star Wars Psychology: How Does a Stormtrooper Learn to Hug?

Raised since infancy to obey orders, one soldier refuses to take part in a massacre. Why does he then readily kill other stormtroopers, and when did he learn to greet with a hug?

Feeling Guilty About Back Pain Makes Everything Seem Worse

By Linda Wasmer Andrews on January 20, 2016 in Minding the Body
People with chronic back pain often end up feeling guilty about it. And that guilt, in turn, is linked to increased depression, anxiety and disability.

Ridding Happiness Contaminants: Guilt

No one need be deviled by guilt, no matter what. Learn what causes guilt and, more important, what to do to rid it from your life – now and forever.

Should Therapists Try to Talk Soldiers Out of Their Guilt?

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on January 05, 2016 in Theory of Knowledge
In a commonly used empirically supported treatment manual, therapists are guided on how to talk suffering vets out of their guilt.

Should Someone be Accountable for Acts He Can't Control?

By Eric Newhouse on January 02, 2016 in Invisible Wounds
PennLaw Professor Stephen J. Morse suggests a new legal plea to reflect disorders like PTSD in which some vets may have cognitive or control deficits that limit their culpability.

Why You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

Find out how you’re really influencing the impression you make on others without even knowing it.

How Much Guilt Is Enough?

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on January 01, 2016 in Off the Couch
As the New Year approached, Dan*, a college professor in his early thirties, told me that he was feeling so guilty about all of the things he had failed to do this year.

Fear and Shame on New Year's Day

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on January 01, 2016 in Don't Delay
The Roman god Janus, for whom January is named, had two faces. One looked back to the past; the other looked forward. As we do this today, let's talk about how this makes us feel.

Lame Blame

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on December 25, 2015 in A Swim in Denial
In the season of giving, the key is forgiving. We victimize scapegoats by blaming them for what we hate in ourselves. But the better it works, the more it injures you.

Shaming You Into Charity

By Hank Davis on December 15, 2015 in Caveman Logic
These days we're being shamed onto giving, conned with personalized address stickers and images of cute saucer-eyed animals. Whatever happened to giving freely from the heart?