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  1. #1
    Senior Member pinkgraffiti's Avatar
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    Default Guilt Society /Shame Society

    I found something interesting today about the difference between "guilt" cultures and "shame" cultures: Shame society - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I don't have a particular question to ask, but would like to take this thread on an Ne trip with you.

    ....
    I'm not particularly religious, but recently a friend of mine was talking about how she hated feeling "catholic guilt" and how it was a result of her religious education. I had never thought about that. I guess I have it too, although I have no religious knowledge and did not have a religious education at all. So I wondered if religion can have a deep impact on the culture of a country in general, and whether it has impacted me more that I realize. The wikipedia article on top says that the UK is a shame culture too, although it was exposed to centuries of catholicism. This is interesting, it makes me think of all the british politeness and status-quo. I wonder where it comes from? I also wonder whether their period of colonization in Indie worked so well because Indian society is also a shame culture (or am I wrong?)

    Also, recently a Japanese scientist killed himself following the scandal of the fake steam cell research article published on Nature. So I guess this is another example of a "shame" culture. It's a stretch, but I was wondering about the correlations between guilt/shame and Fi/Fe. Guilt = Fi, Shame =Fe?

    Also, I really wonder if there can be other types of societies, or only guilt vs shame. Or what about the links between guilt/shame and the enneagram? Guilt = type 4, shame = type 2? I really sense that this is incomplete, there cannot be only two systems for religion and societies in general to control their citizens, to impose morals. But I can't think of others at the moment.

    Where would you place, say, America? Guilt? What about muslims? Shame? What about hinduism?
    ...

    PS. found a cool blog: the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe) | hbd* chick

    “Shame is the primary means of behavioral control in most societies. If you are seen breaking a social rule, you will feel shame, and this feeling will be reinforced by what people say and do (gossiping, malicious looks, spitting, ostracism, etc.). Shame is much less effective if you break a rule without being seen or if you merely think about breaking a rule.

    “Guilt is more important in European societies, particularly those of Northwest European origin. It operates even when you act alone or merely think about breaking a rule. Behavior can thus be regulated in all possible situations with a minimum of surveillance.”

  2. #2
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    I think this is an interesting topic, but be careful about mixing the sociological definitions of guilt and shame with the psychological definitions of guilt and same.

    In sociology:
    • shame (culture) - based on "face" and honor. One feels social shame for failing to maintain the social contract (and perhaps the resulting loss of standing).
    • guilt (culture) - based on individual conscious. One feels guilt for failing to maintain the moral/ethical code, even if no one else knows.

    But in psychology:
    • guilt - negative feelings based on perception of having done wrong.
    • shame - negative feelings based on negative perceptions of oneself: "The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done is the focus."

    So the shame talked about in the enneagram is, I think, more the psychological definition where the self feels inherently flawed. One can feel psychological shame even if no one else knows one's perceived inner flaws.

    On the sociology side, it is interesting that it appears culturally transmitted whether guilt or shame is the focus, even though shame cultures seem more about the social. It would be tempting to see shame cultures as more Fe, but it seems like an imperfect fit unless one strips away everything but the social utility aspect from Fe.

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    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    Great thread. I'll be reading along and hopefully adding my two cents along the way.
    You hem me in -- behind and before;
    you have laid your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

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    Oh yeah I got into this a year or two ago because I grew up in the South which is a shame culture or "honor culture" like Japan, and I really think it's one of the reasons I can't stay there as much as I love it, and miss easy answers.

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    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    Oh yeah I got into this a year or two ago because I grew up in the South which is a shame culture or "honor culture" like Japan, and I really think it's one of the reasons I can't stay there as much as I love it, and miss easy answers.
    While I agree that the South is a little more tilted toward the "shame culture" end of the equation compared to some areas (especially as compared to the introverted Northeast), I think the South is still mostly about guilt. Even admitting that there is definitely more emphasis on being friendly and neighborly in the South compared to many areas of the US.

    Still, fundamentalism (for all its faults) emphasizes doing the right thing, regardless of who does or doesn't know: God ALWAYS knows!

    (I say this as someone raised fundamentalist in Texas.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    While I agree that the South is a little more tilted toward the "shame culture" end of the equation compared to some areas (especially as compared to the introverted Northeast), I think the South is still mostly about guilt. Even admitting that there is definitely more emphasis on being friendly and neighborly in the South compared to many areas of the US.

    Still, fundamentalism (for all its faults) emphasizes doing the right thing, regardless of who does or doesn't know: God ALWAYS knows!

    (I say this as someone raised fundamentalist in Texas.)
    Texas isn't even the old South and yes academically speaking, the old South and its remnants are a shame or honor culture, I didn't just pull that out of my ass.

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    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    I agree that the Old South is/was even more so (but I haven't lived there, so can't share a first-person perspective), but I didn't pick up you were specifically talking about Old South (or even Deep South). Culturally, Texas is considered transitional between South and Southwest (see Wikipedia, for example, which considers Texas to be more South than Southwest), so I thought I had a perspective to share. Plus, the Bible Belt (and attendant fundamentalism) extends well into the traditional Old South, but maybe fundamentalist is different in the Old South.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    I agree that the Old South is even more so (but I haven't lived there, so can't share a first-person perspective), but I didn't pick up you were specifically talking about Old South (or even Deep South). Culturally, Texas is considered transitional between South and Southwest (see Wikipedia, for example, which considers Texas to be more South than Southwest), so I thought I had a perspective to share. Plus, the Bible Belt (and attendant fundamentalism) extends well into the traditional Old South, but maybe fundamentalist is different in the Old South.
    I am sorry if I am being snippy, you are a nice person, I have just had a hard day of being told art isn't important enough to get upset about and that triggers memories of being teens and grandfather saying I was good at the wrong things. .I understand you may see it differently but it stems from the pre Civil War South and my family is from Virginias/Carolinas far enough back to be the Scot Irish Protestant wave, I got a lot of the public face South and was disgusted by how it disregarded my mother, who would be recognized as an amazing human being with a huge heart probably in a more liberal guilt culture....but yeah the Old South is Antebellum etc and Texas is an interesting blend of South and West. Don't get me wrong, I am sure you got your fill there too, but Texas is like its own little thing, like California, they are like the conservative and liberal salt and pepper shakers.

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    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    I am sorry if I am being snippy, you are a nice person, I have just had a hard day of being told art isn't important enough to get upset about and that triggers memories of being teens and grandfather saying I was good at the wrong things. .I understand you may see it differently but it stems from the pre Civil War South and my family is from Virginias/Carolinas far enough back to be the Scot Irish Protestant wave, I got a lot of the public face South and was disgusted by how it disregarded my mother, who would be recognized as an amazing human being with a huge heart probably in a more liberal guilt culture....but yeah the Old South is Antebellum etc and Texas is an interesting blend of South and West. Don't get me wrong, I am sure you got your fill there too, but Texas is like its own little thing, like California, they are like the conservative and liberal salt and pepper shakers.
    No worries... I can understand a nerve being touched. I have a fundamentalist father from East Texas (Scottish and Irish) and a mother from West Texas (German and French), so I'm kind of a Euro-mutt. Still, I think fundamentalism in general owes a lot to Scottish Common Sense Realism... so wouldn't be surprised if it were stronger in the Scottish settled areas of the US.

    Personally, I struggle a lot with psychological shame (not the social kind), and a lot of that I attribute to being raised fundamentalist and held to uncompromising standards that no human being could possibly live up to. I'm not particularly outgoing and social (although I do fine when I put myself out there), but I think that men are held to a more lax standard than women that way... even in the South. My identical twin-brother's wife would disagree, though, since I offended her 20+ years ago and she has never forgiven or forgotten.

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    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I think every culture uses shame to enforce conformity. It's just that the definition of conformity varies. In NZ we have a very laid-back, easy-going, egalitarian culture, but even these things can be used to shame people.

    Some examples of what people get shamed for in NZ (which is not a complete list by any means):

    - Being a "try hard". Don't be seen as making too much effort at something or trying to stand out in the crowd too much. Even if you are "trying hard" you have to make it look like you're not.
    - Confidence in yourself or valuing your skills/achievements. You can't be seen as blowing your own trumpet in any way, which means you often end up hiding or downplaying your gifts. Absolute modesty must be maintained at all times, even if you're the best in the world at something.
    - Intellectualism. It's viewed as mumbo jumbo, pretentious crap that's impractical and out of touch with everyday reality. Eye rolling and scoffing at it is required, even if you have a PhD.
    - Conspicuous displays of emotion. Showing too much emotion is vulgar and ridiculous, and is the sort of thing Americans do. This includes admitting that you're stressed or depressed. Put a pleasant smile on and pretend everything's fine because you wouldn't want to cause a fuss.
    - Complaining about anything. Much like the previous point, you can't make a scene. Even if it's a legitimate concern, just suck it up and don't burden others with your problem.
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