Human Studies

, 32:335 | Cite as

The Experiences of Guilt and Shame: A Phenomenological–Psychological Study

  • Gunnar Karlsson
  • Lennart Gustav Sjöberg
Research Paper


This study aims at discovering the essential constituents involved in the experiences of guilt and shame. Guilt concerns a subject’s action or omission of action and has a clear temporal unfolding entailing a moment in which the subject lives in a care-free way. Afterwards, this moment undergoes a reconstruction, in the moment of guilt, which constitutes the moment of negligence. The reconstruction is a comprehensive transformation of one’s attitude with respect to one’s ego; one’s action; the object of guilt and the temporal-existential experience. The main constituents concerning shame are its anchorage in the situation to which it refers; its public side involving the experience of being perceptually objectified; the exclusion of social community; the bodily experience; the revelation of an undesired self; and the genesis of shame in terms of a history of frozen now-ness. The article ends with a comparison between guilt and shame.


Emotions EPP-method Guilt Hermeneutics Phenomenology Shame 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Saltsjö-BooSweden

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