Although it is a painful experience, the feeling of guilt plays a fundamental role in learning social rules and acquiring a sense of responsibility. You feel guilty when you understand that other people's distress and suffering have been caused by your behaviour, and therefore you feel the need to make amends. In this way remorse has an adaptive and constructive function in social relationships. In some cases, however, traumatic events or affective shortcomings provoke veritable guilt pathologies that prevent a person from interacting satisfactorily with others. This volume outlines the mechanisms that sustain this social emotion and describes how it originates and how it manifests itself, in both everyday and extreme contexts. The latter include those situations in which the person who suffers - such as a victim of sexual abuse or a survivor of some tragic event - feels guilty.
Contents: 1. Social Emotions - 2. Feeling Guilty: Developmental Aspects - 3. Feeling Guilty: Social and Cultural Aspects - 4. Atoning for One's Errors - 5. Guilt Pathologies - 6. Why Does the Victim Feel Guilty? - 7. Mistreated and Abused Children - More on Guilt.
Paola Di Blasio teaches Development Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan.
Roberta Vitali is a Ph.D. student in Development Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan.