Guilt and shame are two of most powerful and destructive emotions that we have. They are the root cause of much suffering,
And yet of all the emotions, they are the most likely to be the subject of denial because the actions or thoughts that stimulated those emotions within us are ones we would just as soon not recall because they raise these emotions. And so we do not work with our guilt and shame; these emotions are not resolved. And we continue to suffer.
I am not writing this post to explain or discuss guilt and shame. There is not really much to say. They are formed by our conditioning either at the hands of our family or the broader culture. These emotions are thrust upon us. They are a product of our mind.
What makes it even more perverse is that not only is the reaction of guilt and shame thrust upon us, but the actions the bring up guilt and shame are themselves the product of our conditioning. Truly a double whammy.
As regards criminal guilt, really one should speak in terms of criminal responsibility, not guilt. Because to be guilty you have to choose to do something of your own free will. But no one chooses to be bad or evil; they are programmed that way by their life experiences. The area of free will within which we operate is very small, contrary to the assumptions of our moral and legal systems.
Almost every, if not every, child experiences guilt or shame. And that emotion remains part of the inner child and so impacts how the adult that has grown out of the child reacts to experiences in the present. Read the post.