SHAME: Guilt, Regret, and Blame

When we talk about social policing a lot comes to mind. The most common way of enforcing behavioral norms is with praise and pressure. In adolescence we learn quickly the social hierarchy of  “cool”. Those that dictate the norms and conform to them are rewarded and those that oppose them are punished. This punishment comes in the form of ostracism and outcasting.

Rejection and loneliness can be one of the most hurtful feelings but there is some security at least in anonymity. What is worse may be what happens we are pointed too and publicly denounced. We’ve seen this take through the ages with tar and feathering, and famously with the Scarlet Letter.

It should be noted that a woman having a child out of wedlock was shunned horribly by societies in years past. Even now it is not entirely common. Women now face this sort of treatment when they abort a pregnancy in some cultures this is a point of contention and even violence towards them.

Many associate this with religion or parents, but the authority can be any group we have given some trust to or look to for guidance. Anyone who steps outside of the cultural framework can face this projection of shame which has to be distinguished from embarrassment and guilt which often deal with more.

This month, we will analyze the phenomena associated with our stepping out of the dominant standard of behavior we are accustomed to.



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