I Wish I Hadn't Done That!

Oct 10, 2013

Dr. Hank Schwartz is the Psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. "Guilt gets a bad rap because we tend to think of it in excess," Schwartz said. "Moderate amounts of guilt motivate us.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

I really meant to donate to the NPR fund drive. I just forgot. Well, actually I didn't. But still, I should have donated. I feel so guilty! Guilt is a funny thing. It's a pervasive emotion with the power to both motivate--and oppress.

While guilt can save us from ourselves, checking our destructive impulses and behavior, in overdrive, it can consume our every thought, leaving us precious little time to enjoy the lives we live. 

Why do we feel  guilt? Does it confer any advantage at all? What about all those people who don't feel guilt? They get to serve in Congress and become Wall Street traders! 

We explore the emotion today with a psychiatrist and writers. Leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.


  • Dr. Hank Schwartz is the is the Psychiatrist-in-chief Hartford Hospital / The Institute of Living and Director, Department of Psychiatry. 
  • Ruth Whippman  is a British writer living in California working on a book proposal about happiness in America. Her work has appeared in several publications including The New York Times and she is a regular blogger for The Independent and Huffington Post. (@ruthwhippman)
  • Jen Doll is a freelance writer who's contributed to The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire, New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, and elsewhere. Her new book, Save the Date, will be out in May 2014. (@thisisjendoll)