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Feelings of Guilt in Major Depression: Conceptual and Psychometric Aspects

  • G. E. Berrios (a1), A. Bulbena (a2), N. Bakshi (a3), T. R. Dening (a4), A. Jenaway (a4), H. Markar (a5), R. Martin-Santos (a6) and S. L. Mitchell (a7)...


A new scale for the evaluation of feelings of guilt is described. Two types of guilt feeling were of potential interest: ‘delusional’ guilt or shame (experienced in relation to one's actions), and ‘affective’ guilt (a more general feeling of unworthiness). Reliability and validity analyses for the first (15–item) version of the scale were performed in three separate and contrasting clinical samples. The second and final (seven-item) version was tested in another sample of major depressives and in normal controls. The HRSD was used as a measure of severity throughout. The BDI and Widlöcher psychomotor retardation scale were also used as external criteria for the seven-item scale. Exploratory factor analysis of this sample yielded two factors – ‘cognitive/attitudinal’ and ‘mood/feeling’ – of which only the first correlated with scores for psychomotor retardation. It is suggested that these two factors represent two forms of guilt, but that only the former is related to a putative dopaminergic disorder. Guilt scores and measures of severity were not correlated. It is suggested that feelings of guilt should be considered as a behavioural marker for a subtype of depression.


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Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital (Level 4), Hills Road, Cambridge


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Feelings of Guilt in Major Depression: Conceptual and Psychometric Aspects

  • G. E. Berrios (a1), A. Bulbena (a2), N. Bakshi (a3), T. R. Dening (a4), A. Jenaway (a4), H. Markar (a5), R. Martin-Santos (a6) and S. L. Mitchell (a7)...
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