Since the days of our early childhood, we carry within us a model of goodness and a fear of disapproval from our parents. We incorporate parental values, which ultimately become the primary motivation for socially acceptable behavior.
Thus, the purpose of conscience is to make the individual responsible to the group. (The group may be one's family, community, or country.) Through identification with the group, we develop a social conscience. Conscience helps us to feel good about ourselves when we are in harmony with the original standards and values of our parents (now translated as society's values). But, when we err or behave selfishly and not in the interest of others, we may be faced with a self-inflicted punishment. The punishment is a nagging pain that can become a constant companion. That nagging pain is a feeling of guilt. Guilt tells us we do not approve of our own behavior.
MR. EVANS: "Although I was always more outgoing than my wife, the differences between us seem to have become more marked since she became ill. We got invited to go for a daytrip to the Poconos with the local AARP group, but my wife doesn't want to go anywhere. She would rather just be left home alone. So I don't think I'll be able to go.