In previous articles, I discussed the connection between sexuality and emotions, particularly anger and shame. In this post, I want to focus more on the emotion of guilt. In my mind, one of the first things to understand about guilt is that it is very closely connected to anger. In fact, I believe that guilt is the flip side of anger. To illustrate this idea, let’s take a look at what someone may say to another person if he or she is provoked to anger. For example, someone who has become angered may state, “You messed up,” to the other individual. Now what may someone say to himself if he feels guilty about something he has done? How about, “I messed up.”
Anger– “You messed up.” Guilt– “I messed up.”
Just replace the “you” with “I” and anger becomes guilt. My point here is that what we call guilt is really anger directed at oneself. When we feel guilty, we are angry at ourselves.
The other crucial aspect of guilt is that it always entails punishment. Someone who is found guilty in a court of law is going to be handed down a punishment by the judge. In this way, criminals have been judged to be guilty by society and are deemed to be worthy of appropriate punishment. Sometimes the punishment may merely be a fine if the guilt is moderate. Other times, punishment entails a prison sentence for guilt that is more severe. And of course, the death penalty is the ultimate punishment for ultimate guilt.
Finally, guilt is always subjective. One jury may convict an individual for […]