Shame and the Self

Francis J. Broucek

April 26, 1991
ISBN 9780898624441
Price: $39.00
167 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

In this ambitious new work, Frank Broucek explores the affect of shame—its functions, and its relationship to sexuality, self, and others. With a special focus on the relationship between shame and self-objectification, he proposes an innovative new theory that links shame to our sense of self from early development through maturity. In exploring this theme, Broucek—a psychoanalytically trained psychiatrist—breaks new ground in understanding the development of the self, establishing a perspective on narcissism that differs markedly from traditional psychoanalytic concepts.
An illuminating overview of the modern literature precedes a provocative analysis of the role of shame in the formation of the self. Here, Broucek identifies the three major sources of shame: the infant's experiences of interpersonal inefficacy; self-objectification resulting in a kind of self-alienation or primary dissociation; and the experience of being unloved, rejected, or scapegoated by important others. In the course of development, these vectors cause the self's overinvestment in the idealized self-image and a devaluation of the actual self, an event explored in depth in the chapter on narcissism.
Broucek also addresses the role of shame in psychoanalysis and in society. The neglect of this emotion in psychoanalytic theory and technique, the author contends, results from a critical lack of understanding of shame and its effect—potentially adverse—on the practice of psychotherapy. Finally, Broucek's analysis of widespread shamelessness in modern times logically extends the ideas presented earlier.
Maintaining a critical balance in its coverage and interpretation, SHAME AND THE SELF marks a significant contribution to the understanding of the nature of shame and its role in our psychic life. As such, it is essential reading for all practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health practitioners.