Shame

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Shame

Shame is an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition.

Charles Darwin, in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, described shame affect as consisting of blushing, confusion of mind, downward cast eyes, slack posture, and lowered head, and he noted observations of shame affect in human populations worldwide.[2] He also noted the sense of warmth or heat (associated with the vasodilation of the face and skin) occurring in intense shame.

A "sense of shame" is the consciousness or awareness of shame as a state or condition. Such shame cognition may occur as a result of the experience of shame affect or, more generally, in any situation of embarrassment, dishonor, disgrace, inadequacy, humiliation, or chagrin.

A condition or state of shame may also be assigned externally, by others, regardless of the one's own experience or awareness. "To shame" generally means to actively assign or communicate a state of shame to another. Behaviors designed to "uncover" or "expose" others are sometimes used for this purpose, as are utterances like "Shame!" or "Shame on you!"

Finally, to "have shame" means to maintain a sense of restraint against offending others (as with modesty, humility, and deference) while to "have no shame" is to behave without such restraint (as with excessive pride or hubris).

Shame vs. guilt

The location of the dividing line between the concepts of shame and guilt is not uniformly agreed upon.

According to Ruth Benedict, shame is a violation of cultural or social values while guilt feelings arise from violations of one's internal values.

Psychoanalyst Helen B. Lewis argued that, "The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done is the focus." Similarly, Fossum and Mason say in their book Facing Shame that "While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person."

Following this distinction Brene Brown in a speech give at ted.comindicated "Guilt" is about "I sorry I made a mistake." Shame is about "I am a mistake."

TED: Brené Brown: Listening to shame