REMORSE vs GUILT–I sincerely doubt the validity of the interchangeability of these two words. However, I oftentimes hear them applied in actual or inferred reversed circumstances. I believe ‘remorse’ implies a personal inner sorrow and/or regret for having done or said something that hurts someone else. ‘Guilt’, on the other hand, implies a need for punishment or retribution for some action or statement. You might ask what difference does it make, and I would say that in most circumstances, ‘none’, except for proper understanding and communication.
There is a big difference, though, when it comes to the fields of psychology and morality. As a Catholic Christian child, I was taught two types of ‘Act of Contrition’ prayers. The ‘Act of Perfect Contrition’ tells God that we are are sorry (remorseful) for our sins because they offend him ‘who art all good and deserving of all our love’. The ‘Act of Imperfect Contrition’, on the other hand, tells God that we are sorry for our sins, ‘because we dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell’. In other words, one Act expresses pure sadness, sorrow, and remorse, while the other expresses guilt with fear of ‘impending punishment’.
From a psychological standpoint, I believe the so-called act of Perfect Contrition is a sham if one has ever been indoctrinated in the other—it would be impossible to express ‘perfect remorse and sorrow’ if one knew that ‘retribution’ was a possibility—you would be attempting to ‘lie’ to yourself and to God. So what does that do—it creates a sense of greater guilt—the dog keeps chasing his tail. So, what’s the point?
Clearly, the point is the severe psychological damage inflicted by such schizoid moral teachings. Ultimately, it instills in us a permanent sense of guilt with resultant impending punishment. When done in pre-rational age children, their subconscious minds are contaminated forever. When that contamination reaches a certain point, anxiety of unknown origin besets them. The typical initial defense to that anxiety is ‘an air of perfection’—work the hardest, excel the most, be perfect in/at everything. That attitude, which is subconscious, demands effort above and beyond ‘normal’—as the demand grows, so does the energy expenditure, both physical and mental (emotional). If and when it reaches extreme levels, a subconscious feeling of ‘helplessness’ sets in—we cant keep up the pace—we become depressed. Way too often, that depression reaches extreme levels—we no longer can cope—we give up—it’s over—we’re gone from this life forever.
That exact scenario prevailed in Medieval Europe. People were being, first tortured, and then burned to death, by the Inquisition for being normal—such was the idiocy of the Church. People were being declared ‘witches’. Anyone accused of being a witch was automatically convicted, and anyone who attempted a defense for a suspected witch was automatically convicted also. An official inquisition manual, created by Heinrich Cramer and Jacob Springer, The Malleus Maleficarium, carries the official imprimatur of Pope Innocent V111, and is divided into three sections—1 defines the existence of witches: 2- how they operate, and: 3- their remedy. The net result was an entire society so ‘guilt ridden’ as to prompt G. Rattray Taylor, in his very astute book, Sex in History, to describe Medieval Europe as “One Giant Cesspool of Psychosis”.
Rational beings, most likely, should experience feelings of remorse/sorrow for offending someone. Many times, our legal system, which was developed and sustained by Judeo-Christianity, would ascribe guilt, and demand punishment for such offenses.
I would suggest to you that the entire system from which Judaism, all Christianity, as well as Islam was derived is based one hundred percent on false premises. All of that stems from a very ‘false notion’ of God. Not one of, those religions, nor any other, has ever been willing or able to define their God’s essence. I have, and my definition soundly refutes all religions known to me. In my book Wilderness Cry, I define God as ‘A Perfect Rational Being’—an irrefutable definition. In addition, I carry that definition to the point of refutation of anything and everything pertaining to the Abrahamic religions. A complete explanation is included. In Peace in Spirituality, I carry just one of a myriad of ramifications of that definition to its ‘logical conclusion’.
I might add that I am happy to announce that Wilderness Cry has been chosen by Online Book Club as Book Of The Day for 12-1-20, and Book of the Month for the entire month of December, 2020.
The point of this presentation today is to make clear how subtle differences can, and oftentimes do, have major implications. We must always be careful of ‘what we say’ and ‘how we say it’.
In the natural world of irrationality, there exists an ‘inborn’ understanding—survival of the fittest—the biggest, strongest, always win and are in charge. There is a ‘natural hierarchy’ established usually by strength alone. Sadly, in the ‘rational world’ of humans, that hierarchy, frequently, seems to be established by ‘cunning and deceit’.—should they feel ‘remorse’ or ‘guilt’, or possibly both? I have observed that most feel nothing unless they get caught—then they become very ‘remorseful, not because they feel sorrow for their victims, but, rather, because they got caught, and they know they are ‘guilty’—that’s when postured remorse can and should be acclaimed as ‘sham’. What do you think?
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