guilt

guilt, in psychology, a term denoting an unpleasant feeling associated with unfulfilled wishes. Sigmund Freud initially contended that sexual drives produce sense of guilt in the superego, the moral conscience of the mind. He later maintained, however, that guilt was associated with aggressive impulses. Freud felt that guilt was often confused with remorse, the former being an emotion signaling the presence of aggressive wishes, the latter a self-imposed punishment which occurs if the aggressive wish is fulfilled. Individuals suffering from various neurotic disorders may experience feelings of guilt and remorse even when they have not acted on their aggressive impulses. The term guilt is most commonly used in traditional psychoanalysis, as a way of describing unconscious processes which may lead to neurotic reactions. It is also used in criminal law, in cases where a defendant is found to be responsible for the crime for which he is on trial.

See L. Wurmser, The Mask of Shame (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on guilt from Fact Monster:

  • inquest - inquest inquest, in law, a body of men appointed by law to inquire into certain matters. The term ...
  • Francesca da Rimini - Francesca da Rimini Francesca da Rimini , fl. 13th cent., Italian beauty, daughter of Guido da ...
  • Riom - Riom Riom , town (1990 pop. 19,302), Puy-de-Dôme dept., S central France, in Auvergne. It has ...
  • World War I: Aftermath and Reckoning - Aftermath and Reckoning World War I and the resulting peace treaties (see Versailles, Treaty of; ...
  • Arne Garborg - Garborg, Arne Garborg, Arne , 1851–1924, Norwegian writer of the naturalistic school. He ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Psychology and Psychiatry