Distinguishing Shame, Humiliation and Guilt: An Evolutionary Functional Analysis and Compassion Focused Interventions



The self-conscious emotions of shame, humiliation and guilt are clearly related to our human capacity for self-awareness and sense of self as an ‘object in the minds of others’. However, this chapter will highlight that the emotional and motivational processes that sit behind them are phylogenetically old and rooted in social competition for shame and humiliation, and care-giving for guilt. Insight into their phylogenetic origins and differences helps us to gain insight into the physiological processes that texture them and why they can have such profound effects not only on individual human behaviour but also whole societies and cultures. This chapter will explore the differences between these self-conscious emotions, how they are rooted in different motivational systems and how we can utilise care and compassion based motivational systems for the remediation and change.


Compassion Guilt Humiliation Reputation Shame 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Compassion Research and TrainingCollege of Health and Social Care Research Centre, University of DerbyDerbyUK
  2. 2.University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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