How to Silence One’s Conscience: Cognitive Defenses Against the Feeling of Guilt

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Abstract

This work presents an analysis of the feeling of guilt and in particular of the cognitive defenses against it. It shows how the need to avoid or mitigate the feeling, with the suffering implied, affects the perception and judgment of oneself and others. It is in fact claimed that to copy with their guilt people try to alter the appraisal processes implied by the emotion. Once described the main cognitive components of the feeling of guilt, an analysis is offered of the interventions of the cognitive defenses on such components, to alter the original appraisal processes underlying the feeling.

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