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

Star Wars: Answering the Big Questions

By David Kyle Johnson Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 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 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?

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 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 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 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 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 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?

VA Therapists Help Vets Wrestle With Moral Injuries

By Eric Newhouse on December 14, 2015 Invisible Wounds
What a soldier did to his perceived enemies (or failed to do for his buddies) may haunt him for years because moral lapses can't be excused in hindsight.

How to Know When to Pump the Brakes

There are several good indications to realize when you're taking on too much. Being cognizant can help.

Letter from a Nurse Who Accidentally Killed A Patient

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on November 29, 2015 How To Do Life
My advice on how to cope with having made a big mistake.

5 Things They Don't Tell You About Grief

Worried you aren't grieving the "right" way? There are some parts of the grief process that people don't like to talk about.

Do Crocodiles Really Cry?

What's up with crocodile tears? Do crocodiles really cry? Scientists find out.

The Imposter Syndrome in Progressive Leaders

Progressive political leaders have a special version of the Imposter Syndrome, a set of beliefs in public leaders that they don't deserve the power and authority that they actually have. For progressives, this often stems from a guilty over-identification with the underdog. They react my diminishing their power and status to their own detriment and that of their movement

The Psychology of Food

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on November 15, 2015 How To Do Life
As we enter the holidays, on harvesting maximum pleasure from eating and cooking.

Addiction and Rescue

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on November 05, 2015 A Swim in Denial
In video clip on Facebook a presidential campaigner promises prospective voters in a New Hampshire tavern that he favors treatment for addiction. Within a day or two, more than two million people called attention to the clip. What's the magic?

One Simple Way You Can Become a Human Lie Detector

Researchers have identified that observing whether or not someone is "thinking too hard" is the single most reliable cue for detecting a liar.

A Guilty Pleasure: Being With People From Your Background

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 28, 2015 How To Do Life
Implications for relationships and for the workplace.

Postpartum Depression: From Blame to Responsibility

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on October 15, 2015 Child in Mind
When we point to the negative effects of postpartum depression on child development, parents may be overwhelmed with guilt. "I'm guilty" can also mean "I'm responsible." Framed in light of responsibility, parents may instead feel empowered.

I Lied To My Mother

How To Repair A Relationship With Your Mother

The Martian Totally Neglects the Behavioral Sciences

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on October 13, 2015 The Squeaky Wheel
The Martian is very proud of it's accurate depiction of sciences--so why was psychology entirely absent?

Escaping or Accepting?

It is my belief that escape is at the heart of all addiction. Brene Brown points out in her book "Daring Greatly," shame and guilt are fostered by our attempts to escape our feelings. She identifies three primary ways of escaping feelings.

Survive the Nightmare of Weeknight Cooking

By Zanthe Taylor M.F.A. on October 09, 2015 A Million Meals
We have more food options than any previous generation of parents, but if you give your child take-out, pre-packaged or processed food every day, you are at risk of having your Good Parenting card revoked. Changing a few things about your routine and attitude can make a big improvement in how you feel about that dreadful parade of family meals stretching past the horizon.

Dreadful Companions Called Fear, Guilt and Shame

Along with anger comes companion emotions that need to be examined as you heal from your eating disorder or disordered eating. Anger can be an immediate response to pain in your life. Fear, guilt and shame, however, follow close behind.

6 Mental Habits That Will Wear You Down

Do you struggle with self-doubt & insecurity? The best way to start feeling better about yourself is to notice the automatic mental and emotional habits that don’t serve you well.

Anxiety Can Speed Aging

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on September 27, 2015 Memory Medic
No one gets to re-live the past, but everyone can influence their own future.

Not Just About the Psychologists

By Nancy Sherman Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Afterwar
What are the moral effects of torture and depersonalization? A discussion with a psychiatrist and retired Army brigadier general.