Guilt is the dark force behind haunting anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, life meaninglessness, and depression - a force to be kept in check. Yet guilt is equally our richest and most hidden resource, the essence of our humanness, and it drives us on to our highest achievements. Today, when individuals feel bad it is not usually because of something specific they have done. Rather, thundering around in the depths of their being is guilt: obscure, unconscious, yet irrepressible and ever-present. Where does it come from, what are its ways, and how might it be put to useful work?
This book explores the nature of guilt, shedding light on how the modern West came increasingly to understand it as ‘the most terrible sickness’. It traces the psychological origins of guilt in each person’s family, and demonstrates the historical rise of guilt in parallel with civilization. It examines the modern predicament: the difficulty of finding explanations for guilt in a secular, post-church society - and the possibility of relief from its curse, while channeling it into a fulfilling life. As such it will appeal to those with interests in sociology, psychology, psychiatry, cultural studies, cultural history, and anthropology.
1. The Sense of Guilt
Part 1: What Is Guilt?
3. Naive Culture
4. Persecutory Guilt
5. Depressive Guilt
6. The Family Origins of Guilt
Part 2: The Cultural History of Guilt
7. England: 1350-1800
8. The Causes of Increasing Guilt
9. No Remission – the Death of God: 1800-1920
10. Depressive Guilt Culture: 1920-1980
11. A New Balance: 1980--
12. The Metaphysics of Redemption
The Morality, Society and Culture series invites scholarly explorations of how people in the contemporary world make sense of their lives, and manage to live well.
The series is concerned with studies in Metaphysical Sociology. It focuses on how people create meaningful lives, secure a moral compass, and anchor their identity in complex dynamic modern societies. It explores the contribution of ideas of truth, beauty, and goodness to this.
With metaphysics having taken a cultural turn, opening itself to sociological study and not just philosophical investigation, the series includes works on cultural texts such as novels, films, television programs, music, art, advertising, public events, architecture, video games, and social media, as well as social and economic institutions including work, organizations, markets, households, cities, technologies, and modes of sociability.