‘Shame Has Two Faces’ – The Psychological POV

‘Shame Has Two Faces’ – The Psychological POV

What is your understanding of ‘shame’? How do you define the word, the concept? Do you think it’s the same thing as guilt or humiliation? What if I said it’s not.

Do you think it’s something you should use as ‘play’? BDSM does use a lot of things as play, some may be less advised than others.

But in society, where people aren’t always free to consent, or make their own choices, what do you think shame would do?

Well it’s being studied…. and apparently it’s not that easy to see how this will affect people. Yet it seems to be rising as an alt means of sentencing.

In an effort to deter crime and reduce recidivism, (and frankly to reduce jail/prison costs) some judges are looking at ‘creative’ sentencing. One method is using the concept of public shaming, instead of fines or incarceration. And it may seem like a good idea, but the studies are showing it takes a very specific type of person/criminal for this to have the right effect on. Probably not something a judge or cop should do at all, let alone on impulse. But for some criminals, nothing is working, so is pubic shame worth trying?


  • Shunning/form of excommunication – exclusion from group
  • public shaming – ad in newspaper, standing with a cheeseboard, crime written on it, old school- standing in a public square/stockades

…….. resources

Feeling shame depends upon perceiving that others disapprove of you or your behavior. It is different from guilt, which is based on your own view of an action as being harmful to another. If fueled by anxiety, victimless habits such as overeating, cutting, or bulimia could increase as the shamed individual self-isolates to avoid public censure or attempts at intervention. Driving someone “underground” can be counterproductive. Shaming can reflect prejudice against a group or a confusion of attitudes toward behaviors, conditions, and identity. When shame is internalized and becomes pervasive and enduring, a person can be at risk for developing unhealthy conditions such as depression or social anxiety disorder, the fear of being scrutinized and the avoidance of social events that evoke such fear link


When people are guilty—as proclaimed by a judge, for example—they experience remorse and regret, and they want to make reparations. But people who are shamed feel generally diminished, worthless—and defensive. Humiliated people want to slink into hiding, deny responsibility and, most important, blame others for what they did. shame led to recidivism only when the humiliated inmates blamed others. When they did not—when they were humiliated yet accepted blame—inmates were no more likely to return to crime. In other words, the experience of shame is in some ways a liability, but in other ways it is adaptive, perhaps even a strength. Apparently it’s the powerful desire to hide away that determines shame’s effects. link

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