Study: Shame, guilt and empathy in sex offenders.

If high levels of shame hinder the experience of empathy, then for those sex offenders who may be unable to, or have great difficulty experiencing empathy due to excessive shame, empathy training as part of their treatment might render them a greater risk.

Such training might have the effect of teaching individuals who lack empathy to some degree skills in acting empathically, but may not necessarily enhance the genuine experience of it. Thus, teaching empathy to some sex offenders may have the effect of improving their grooming skills as being able to feign empathy might be useful when it comes to securing victims.

Attribution theory is outlined and considered in terms of the treatment of sex offenders, and the view that guilt but not shame should be encouraged when working clinically with sex offenders will be explicated against the backdrop of what is currently known about shame and guilt, and their effects on empathy.