Therapists tend to view guilt as a toxic emotion. They are often over-sensitized to the psychological effects of too much guilt—of unwarranted guilt—yet often under-sensitized to the interpersonal effects of someone having too little guilt—the absence of guilt when it is warranted. Guilt is one of the primary social emotions that keeps people socially aware.
I believe the emotions of guilt and shame are culturally induced negative emotional experiences that almost all of us are tragically made to feel from infancy or childhood on. But guilt and shame are not now, nor ever were, hard-wired human emotional necessities.
For the last three years, I have been working with people, labeled "hoarders," who have become overwhelmed by their possessions in their homes. This has been some of the most interesting, challenging and thought-provoking work I have ever done. It is also an area that, I think, highlights all of the issues that challenge us in helping people who feel overwhelmed, for whatever reason.