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December 1958

An Investigation of Anxiety as Related to Guilt and Shame

Author Affiliations

Downey, III.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(6):752-759. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340120088013

In the past, while many sources of anxiety were recognized, the resulting anxiety was always considered as a unitary concept, i. e., as having the same psychological and physiological correlates regardless of etiology. The validity of this implicit working hypothesis has seldom been challenged. However, in recent studies2,3 investigating anxiety in paratroopers in training, differences in the types of anxiety elicited were noticed. These differences could be accounted for, in part, by postulating the existence of two distinct types of anxiety, one related to shame, and called "shame-anxiety," the other to guilt, and called "guilt-anxiety." This differentiation of types of anxiety was first fully elaborated in papers by Alexander1 and Piers.8

The three terms to be dealt with in this paper, anxiety, guilt, and shame, are defined as follows:

Anxiety: "A conscious experience of tension [apprehension, dread or foreboding] which is related to apprehension cued off by

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