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Basic Element - Shame

The concept of self is a cognitive achievement that normally occurs around one and a half years of age. With the emergence of self, an elaboration of emotional life occurs such that emotions focusing on the self emerge. These self-conscious emotions include empathy, pride, shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Examination of the facial expressions and nonverbal behavior of young children placed in situations designed to elicit embarrassment (e.g., looking at themselves in a mirror, being complimented, dancing in front of their mothers and the experimenter) shows that embarrassment does indeed emerge after the development of a self system. Pride and shame are studied by observing children's facial, postural, and verbal expressions in response to success and failure on simple tasks. Children as young as three years show pride when they succeed and shame when they fail the tasks. More shame is observed when children fail easy as opposed to difficult tasks, and more pride is observed when difficult tasks are accomplished. Cultural and gender, as well as developmental, differences in these important self-evaluative emotions are being studied.

Basic Element - Shame


The four elements of western culture are: EARTH, AIR, FIRE, and WATER. These four elements were believed to be essential to life. Taoism has five elements, each one superior to the next in turn: wood, earth, water, fire, and metal. Metal conquers wood, wood conquers earth, et cetera.

BLUSHING is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions. Monkeys reddenfrom passion, but it would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to make us believethat any animal could blush. The reddening of the face from a blush is due to therelaxation of the muscular coats of the small arteries, by which the capillaries becomefilled with blood; and this depends on the proper vaso-motor centre being affected. Nodoubt if there be at the same time much mental agitation, the general circulation will beaffected; but it is not due to the action of the heart that the network of minute vesselscovering the face becomes under a sense of shame gorged with blood. We can cause laughingby tickling the skin, weeping or frowning by a blow, trembling from the fear of pain, andso forth; but we cannot cause a blush, as Dr. Burgess remarks,[1] by

It is a rather curious question why, in most cases the face, ears, and neck aloneredden, inasmuch as the whole surface of the body often tingles and grows hot. This seemsto depend, chiefly, on the face and adjoining parts of the skin having been habituallyexposed to the air, light, and alternations of temperature, by which the small arteriesnot only have acquired the habit of readily dilating and contracting, but appear to havebecome unusually developed in comparison with other parts of the surface.[9]It is probably owing to this same cause, as M. Moreau and Dr. Burgess have remarked, thatthe face is so liable to redden under various circumstances, such as a fever-fit. ordinaryheat, violent exertion, anger, a slight blow, &c.; and on the other hand that it isliable to grow pale from cold and fear, and to be discoloured during pregnancy. The faceis also particularly liable to be affected by cutaneous complaints, by small-pox,erysipelas, &c. This view is likewise supported by the fact that the men of certainraces, who habitually go nearly naked, often blush over their arms and chests and evendown to their waists. A lady, who is a great blusher, informs Dr. Crichton Browne, thatwhen she feels ashamed or is agitated, she blushes over her face, neck, wrists, andhands,--that is, over all the exposed portions of her skin. Nevertheless it may be doubtedwhether the habitual exposure of the skin of the face and neck, and its consequent powerof reaction under stimulants of all kinds, is by itself sufficient to account for the much

Blushing in the various races of man.--The small vessels of the face becomefilled with blood, from the emotion of shame, in almost all the races of man, though inthe very dark races no distinct change of colour can be perceived. Blushing is evident inall the Aryan nations of Europe, and to a certain extent with those of India. But Mr.Erskine has never noticed that the necks of the Hindoos are decidedly affected. With theLepchas of Sikhim, Mr. Scott has often observed a faint blush on the cheeks, base of theears, and sides of the neck, accompanied by sunken eyes and lowered head. This hasoccurred when he has detected them in a falsehood, or has accused them of ingratitude. Thepale, sallow complexions of these men render a blush much more conspicuous than in most ofthe other natives of India. With the latter, shame, or it may be in part fear, isexpressed, according to Mr. Scott, much more plainly by the head being averted or bentdown, with the eyes wavering or turned askant, than by any change of colour in the skin.

The Semitic races blush freely, as might have been expected, from their generalsimilitude to the Aryans. Thus with the Jews, it is said in the Book of Jeremiah ( 15), "Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush." Mrs. AsaGray saw an Arab managing his boat clumsily on the Nile, and when

Mr. Swinhoe has seen the Chinese blushing, but he thinks it is rare; yet they have theexpression "to redden with shame." Mr. Geach informs me that the Chinese settledin Malacca and the native Malays of the interior both blush. Some of these people gonearly naked, and he particularly attended to the downward extension of the blush.Omitting the cases in which the face alone was seen to blush, Mr. Geach observed that theface, arms, and breast of a Chinaman, aged 24 years, reddened from shame; and with anotherChinese, when asked why he had not done his work in better style, the whole body wassimilarly affected. In two Malays[11] he saw the face, neck, breast, andarms blushing; and in a third Malay (a Bugis) the blush extended down to the waist.

I am assured by Gaika and by Mrs. Barber that the Kafirs of South Africa never blush;but this may only mean that no change of colour is distinguishable. Gaika adds that underthe circumstances which would make a, European blush, his countrymen "look ashamed tokeep their heads up."

Movements and gestures which accompany Blushing.--Under a keen sense of shamethere is a, strong desire for concealment.[20] We turn away the wholebody, more especially the face, which we endeavour in some manner to hide. An ashamedperson can hardly endure to meet

Many writers, ancient and modern, have noticed the foregoing movements; and it hasalready been shown that the aborigines in various parts of the world often exhibit theirshame by looking downwards or askant, or by restless movements of their eyes. Ezra criesout (ch. ix. 6), "O, my God! I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my head to thee, myGod." In Isaiah (ch. I. 6) we meet with the words, "I hid not my face fromshame." Seneca remarks (Epist. xi. 5) "that the Roman players hang down theirheads, fix their eyes on the ground and keep them lowered, but are unable to blush inacting shame." According to Macrobius, who lived in the filth century (`Saturnalia,'B. vii. C. 11), "Natural philosophers assert that nature being moved by shame spreadsthe blood before herself as a veil,

When a person is much ashamed or very shy, and blushes intensely, his heart beatsrapidly and his breathing is disturbed. This can hardly fail to affect the circulation ofthe blood within the brain, and perhaps the mental powers. It seems however doubtful,judging from the still more powerful influence of anger and fear on the circulation,whether we can thus satisfactorily account for the confused state of mind in personswhilst blushing intensely.

The Nature of the Mental States which induce Blushing.--These consist ofshyness, shame, and modesty; the essential element in all being self-attention. Manyreasons can be assigned for believing that originally self-attention directed to personalappearance, in relation to the opinion of others, was the exciting cause; the same effectbeing subsequently produced, through the force of association, by self-attention inrelation to moral conduct. It is not the simple act of reflecting on our own appearance,but the thinking what others think of us, which excites a blush. In absolute solitude themost sensitive person would be quite indifferent about his appearance. We feel blame ordisapprobation more acutely than approbation; and consequently depreciatory remarksor ridicule, whether of our appearance or conduct, causes us to blush much more readilythan does praise. But undoubtedly praise and admiration are highly efficient: a prettygirl blushes when a man gazes intently at her, though she may know perfectly well that heis not depreciating her. Many children, as well as old and sensitive persons blush, whenthey are much praised.

My reasons for believing that attention directed to personal appearance, and not tomoral conduct, has been the fundamental element in the acquirement of the habit ofblushing, will now be given. They are separately light, but combined possess, as itappears to me, considerable weight. It is notorious that nothing makes a shy person blushso much as any remark, however slight, on his personal appearance. One cannot notice eventhe dress of a woman much given to blushing, wihout causing her face to crimson. It issufficient to stare hard at some persons to make them, as Coleridge remarks,blush,--"account for that he who can."[23]

We have seen that in all parts of the world persons who feel shame for some moraldelinquency, are apt to avert, bend down, or hide their faces, independently of anythought about their personal appearance. The object can hardly be to conceal theirblushes, for the face is thus averted or hidden under circumstances which exclude anydesire to conceal shame, as when guilt is fully confessed and repented of. It is, however,probable that primeval man before he had acquired much moral sensitiveness would have beenhighly sensitive about his personal appearance, at least in reference to the other sex,and he would consequently have felt distress at any depreciatory remarks about hisappearance; and this is one form of shame. And as the face is the part of the body whichis most regarded, it is intelligible that any one ashamed of his personal appearance woulddesire to conceal this part of his body. The habit having been thus acquired, wouldnaturally be carried on when shame from strictly moral causes was felt; and it is not easyotherwise to see why under these circumstances there should be a desire to hide the facemore than any other part of the body. The habit, so general with every one who feelsashamed, of turning away, or lowering his eyes, or rest- 041b061a72


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