Guilt & Depression
The scholarly article is entitled "Guilt-Selective Functional Disconnection of Anterior Temporal and Subgenual Cortices in Major Depressive Disorder." In describing their discoveries, the researchers wrote that strong coupling of the key brain regions they studied allowed healthy people to differentiate "between specific qualities (eg, faultfinding and critical) of social behaviors (eg, 'I pointed to a typing error in one of my colleagues' e-mails') and thereby allowing us to make differentiated appraisals of behavior to protect us against overgeneralization of self-blame(eg, This means 'I am critical' rather than 'I am unlikable'). Social concepts (eg, stingy, clumsy, or unintellectual) are thus crucial ingredients for tackling patients' self-blaming overgeneralizations in therapy(eg, 'If I fail at sports matches, it means I am clumsy, but I still have other worthy qualities, such as being smart and caring)."
They further explained that those with a low risk for depression "blame themselves in a specific fashion . . . without damaging their self-worth or hating themselves (an overgeneralized form of guilt)." The authors concluded that "Proneness to overgeneralization of self-blame is a core part of cognitive vulnerability to major depressive disorder." Freud theorized exactly that years ago and this study appears to prove that he was right.