“Shame: The emotions and morality of violence” by James Gilligan claims that shame is the main cause of all violence. He uses multiple examples and analysis to back up his claim. The author, James Gilligan, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry who worked with many prisoners to develop his theory that violence is caused by humiliation and shame due to trivial incidents.
Throughout the chapter Gilligan gives a logical argument for his point that is backed up by his credentials and sources while trying to appeal to the reader.
Gilligan argues that violence can be treated as something like a pathogen, and occurs when three conditions are met. The first condition is that the offenders feel ashamed over trivial occurrences, the second condition is that the offenders feel as if violence is the only way to escape said shame, and the third condition is that the offenders “lack the emotional capacity” that normal people feel such as love, guilt, and fear (44). Gilligan even states, “Frued commented that no one feels as guilty as the saints, to which I would add that no one feels as innocent as the criminals” (44). The original quote from Frued means that those who have done nothing wrong always feel they could have done more to stop wrong doing. Gilligan adds to this by saying that the inverse is also true and those who have done wrong believe that they are not at fault. One of the more surprising claims that Gilligan makes is that “the more trivial the cause of the shame,
the more intense the feeling of shame” (45). He asserts that this is because the offender is even more ashamed due to the fact that they experience shame over something so trivial.
Throughout the chapter Gilligan gives examples to support his claims. One of his examples, Chester T., was willing to sacrifice even his own life (and the lives of others) to retain his self-worth. The prisoner was seemingly abused and treated “worse than animals in zoos” (41). He