Guilt is the feeling we use to punish ourselves when our actions don't match our image of how we ourselves should be.

It can be avoided by changing our patterns of action to more closely match our view of ourselves or by changing the image whe have of ourselves to be more realistic with regards to our actions.

In psychological terms, guilt is felt by people who believe they have done something wrong. Guilt from a legal perspective refers to doing something legally wrong, regardless of how the accused feels about it.

Guilt, its causes, merits and demerits, is a common theme in psychology and is frequently associated with depression. In criminal law, guilt is entirely externally defined by the state, through courts of law. Being guilty in law means one has violated the state's law.

Being judged by a criminal court rests on the belief in which an individual chooses actions of right or wrong based on free will, consequently these actions will be externally judged on their rightness or wrongness.

Collective guilt goes above an individual guilt in which innocents are punished for the actions of a few perpetuators. For instance, a man takes revenge not on the man who wronged him, but on the family, tribe, ethnic group, religion, nation, or army.

In schools, teachers would punish a whole class for an unknown pupil's guilty action. Likewise, economic sanction is a form of collective guilt. Similarly, terrorists justify their actions of killing innocents based on collective guilt.

Guilt can be cured by punishment (in law, spending time in jail, in religion, spending time in hell), forgiveness, or remorse (such as Catholic confession or Islamic tawba).

I feel angry right now. VERY angry. Not as intense as when we first met, 6 years ago, but still…angry.

I used to put up with his stance that people are interchangeable, that much is true – to an extent. He used to spout that to my friends when we first met, until they looked at him in puzzlement and said: “but she’s irreplaceable”, and he would bow down, in the face of such public disapproval. “Oh no, of course she isn't.” Man is a social animal. He wants to be liked.

But tonight, we spoke about getting a kitten. I have wanted one for a long time – I had one once before. My parents bought me one when I was in primary school, and she hid behind the piano for a few days, cowering in terror at her new surroundings, before she was enticed out by hunger.

We were very close – and people laugh when I say this about a cat, but it was true. She even had her kittens on me. Sure she was pregnant, but when the time came, she paced around me whilst I was drowsy in bed, something coming out of her. I thought she was having a poo. Alarmed that my housetrained cat was behaving in such an undignified fashion I yelled for my parents (I was 6 at the time). But out they came, those kittens, all five of them, in their sacs, and she licked them off and ate other unmentionable things. My pjamas were ruined that night due to the bloodstains.

She lived a long time, for a cat.

He has spoken about getting a cat for a while, and it seemed like a big commitment to me. I have hardly known where we are for the last few years: our moving abroad, moving back, family deaths, job changes, his studying. But tonight I said: “yes, let’s get a cat”. It's a huge commitment for me: I would want to shelter it from the whiskers to the grave, so to speak. But then he started to talk about how the money could pay for a child in Africa to study. Of course that made me feel guilt, and I said that we could spend the money on that. But he said no, he didn’t care, he wanted a cat.

But how can we get a cat with that thought out there?

Guilt (?), n. [OE. gilt, gult, AS. gylt, crime; probably originally signifying, the fine or mulct paid for an offence, and afterward the offense itself, and akin to AS. gieldan to pay, E. yield. See Yield, v. t.]


The criminality and consequent exposure to punishment resulting from willful disobedience of law, or from morally wrong action; teh state of one who has broken a moral or political law; crime; criminality; offense against right.

Satan had not answer, but stood struck With guilt of his own sin.


Exposure to any legal penalty or forfeiture.

A ship incurs guilt by the violation of a blockade.


© Webster 1913.

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