1st Edition

Passion, Shame, and the Freedom to Become Seizing The Vital Moment in Psychoanalysis

By Peter Shabad Copyright 2025
    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines how humans can overcome feelings of shame through self-acceptance and regain their innate passion and freedom to grow.

    Peter Shabad examines in detail how self-shaming and passivity are intertwined with the fatalism of self-pity, envy, resentment, and ultimately, regret for not “seizing the vital moments” in life. From birth on, children attempt to contribute to the human endeavour through their innate passion.  Parental receptivity enables a child to plant seeds of belonging, inspiring the generative passion necessary for furthering development. Exposed vulnerability due to the lack of receptivity leads to feelings of shame and self-consciousness; as human beings, we interpret our misfortunes and limitations as punishments and reverse our passion into an inhibited passivity. Shabad envisions psychotherapy as a pathway through which individuals learn to inclusively accept all aspects of their inner lives in order to embark on their journey of self-acceptance.  He emphasizes the need for therapists to view patients as active agents in this process.

    This book is a must read for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of the dynamics of shame and passion in our lives.

    1. In the Shadow of Death: Freedom and the Passion to Become  2. Planting Seeds of Belonging: Giving of Oneself and Being Received  3. Divided Against Oneself: The Self-Conscious Mind and the Crisis of Shame  4. After The Fact: The Retroactive Transformation of Suffering into Shame  5. Exile And Self-Doubt: The Inversion of Passion into Passivity  6. Licking One’s Own Wounds: Passivity and the Fatalism of Self-Pity  7. Resentment And Entitlement: The Reversal of Giving into Taking  8. From Shame to Group Pride: Normality and the Construction of Human Hierarchies  9. The Nobility of Resistance: Transforming Resentment into Active Rebellion  10. The Dignity of Freedom: Countertransference and the Importance of Respect  11. Letting Go and Holding On: Mourning and The Paradoxes of Emotional Life


    Peter Shabad, Ph.D. is on the faculties of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, Chicago Center of Psychoanalysis and Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis.  He is co-editor of The Problem of Loss and Mourning: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (IUP, 1989) and author of Despair and The Return of Hope (Jason Aronson, 2001)

    'Reading Shabad's book, I was reminded of the early psychoanalytic writers whose personalities shone through their prose.  Ferenczi, Abraham, Rank--and one could go on and on--exuded a pioneer spirit that simultaneously spoke themselves and their culture. Shabad's accounts of his origins, his visit to Moscow--where he was a child--begin this book that then moves into psychoanalytical musings of all kinds.  The tone remains the same; a heartfelt sincerity and intelligence that is deeply moving and etches itself in one's own sensibility.  A wonderful book.'

    Christopher Bollas


    'This is a wise, mature, and heartfelt book, a deeply affecting and memorable presentation of the struggle between the embrace of life and its inevitable pain, on the one hand, and on the other, the temptation to turn away from pain, and therefore to sacrifice one’s involvement with life and the vitality such involvement brings with it.  The argument Shabad makes is not theoretical--it is inspirational and legitimately profound.  Shabad derives his deep and strong views from the events of his own life, both personal and clinical.  The message not to avoid involvement with life, and the loss and mourning that come with it, is one that psychoanalysts and psychotherapists will find crucial to their clinical work-and not incidentally, their own lives.'

    Donnell B. Stern, William Alanson White Institute


    'Some authors move us, with their candor about the legacies of their early life experiences. Some impress us with their erudite philosophical references. Some enlighten us, with their profound psychoanalytic insights. Some change us, with their wisdom about love, loss, and fully embracing life. Shabad does it all! Laced with vivid clinical vignettes, this book demonstrates how existential values inform the perspective of a remarkably emotionally available clinician.'

    Sandra Buechler, faculty, William Alanson White Institute


    'In Peter Shabad’s writing, one feels the strength of his unshakeable, all-the-way down, warrior-like bravery in defense of a human being’s right to be himself or herself, and to his or her dignity and full humanity. This is why so many are consistently drawn to his work and this book is no exception.  Generous, engaging, and philosophically challenging in the most accessible way, I wholeheartedly endorse Passion, Shame, and The Freedom to Become.'  

    Elizabeth Corpt, MSW, LICSW, president emerita, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis


    'In the traditions of his joint muses, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, Peter Shabad is an existentialist with a timely message of hope in the face of disavowing shame, resentment, and passivity.  Here is a psychoanalytic vision that takes our existential freedom as a foundation for passionate growth and change.  With compelling clinical examples and stories from his own life, Shabad charts a course through the self-thwarting choices that impede authentic living and offers the clinician a jargon-free guide for “seizing the moment” with our patients, acknowledging the precious gift of living fully today.'

    Jack Foehl, Ph.D., joint editor in chief, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, past president, Boston Psychoanalytic Society & Institute