Shame Matters : Attachment and Relational Perspectives for Psychotherapists book cover
1st Edition

Shame Matters
Attachment and Relational Perspectives for Psychotherapists

ISBN 9781032007755
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
194 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Understanding shame as a relational problem, Shame Matters explores how people, with support, can gradually move away from the relentless cycle of shame and find new and more satisfying ways of relating.

Orit Badouk Epstein brings together experts from across the world to explore different aspects of shame from an attachment perspective. The impact of racism and socio-economic factors on the development and experience of shame are discussed and illustrated with clinical narratives. Drawing upon the experience of infant researchers, trauma experts and therapists using somatic interventions, Shame Matters explores and develops understanding of the shameful deflations encountered in the consulting room and describes how new and empowered ways of relating can be nurtured. The book also details attachment-informed research into the experience of shame and outlines how it can be applied to clinical practice.

Shame Matters will be an invaluable companion for psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, counsellors, social workers, nurses, and others in the helping professions.

Table of Contents


Elizabeth Howell


Orit Badouk-Epstein

1. Shame as a Behavioural System: Links to Attachment, Defence, and Dysregulation

Judith Solomon

2. Caring for the Human Spirit in Pride and Shame: A Moral Conscience Seeking Kindness from Birth

Colwyn Trevarthen

3. Primary Shame and the Economy of Affects

Orit Badouk Epstein

4. Attackments: Subjugation, Shame, and the Attachment to Painful Affects and Objects

Richard A. Chefetz

5. Shame and Black Identity Wounding: The Legacy of Internalised Oppression

Aileen Alleyne

6. Mentalizing Shame, Shamelessness, and Fremdscham (Shame by Proxy) in Groups

Ulrich Schultz-Venrath


7. The Aggressor Within: Attachment Trauma, Segregated Systems, and the Double Face of Shame

Adriano Schimmenti

8. Personal and Professional Reflections: Shame and Race

Elaine Arnold

9. Suicide Addict: The Sovereignty of Shame in the Dissociated Mind

Orit Badouk Epstein

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Orit Badouk Epstein is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor, teacher and member of The Bowlby Centre, London. She is also the editor of Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis and co-edited Terror Within and Without. Attachment and Disintegration: Clinical Work on the Edge (Routledge, 2013).


"Written by a diverse group of international experts, this book is a much-needed deep dive into the complicated facets of shame. Exploring the impact of attachment, dissociation, internalized oppression, the body, and so much more, each chapter offers a unique and illuminating perspective that, taken together, gift the reader with clinically relevant ways to relationally conceptualize and successfully address shame in ourselves and our clients." Pat Ogden, Ph.D., Founder, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, USA

"Shame erodes! The connection between one person and another is particularly vulnerable to the presence of shame. Yet, connection between one person and another also has the capacity to weaken shame, bringing opportunities for self-curiosity, self-exploration, self-growth, relational bonding and genuine intimacy. Long ignored as an emotion of therapeutic import, shame is now understood to be central to all aspects of the therapeutic process, not least the ruptures and repairs crucial to traverse for successful therapy. This book explores with dedication and creativity the importance of shame in human relationships, especially those centring around therapy. Like shame, this book matters. Therapists of every persuasion will benefit from absorbing its content and those they work with will grow as a result." Martin Dorahy, Ph.D., Professor, School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

"As the title of this most important book accurately indicates, and as its contents abundantly show, shame matters a lot in mental health and social relationships. In essence, shame involves the experience that something is wrong with us, which in daily life may enable us to take responsibility for our actions which may have harmed our relationships, in order to reach repair and restoration of what was harmed. However, what this book brings painfully home is how utterly damaging chronic shame is for shamed persons and their ability to relate. Chronic shame, with its pervasive sense of humiliation, most often starts in insecure attachment relationships in early childhood. The contributors to Shame Matters not only painfully testify about this usually hidden but intense suffering, but also convincingly show that repair is possible: in relationships, such as attachment-focused psychotherapy, geared toward the development of secure attachment and to the restoration of the shamed person’s dignity. This book is a must-read for psychotherapists and other mental health workers, but I hope that other people involved in significant relationships, such as partners, parents, teachers, administrators, will also be influenced by its essential message." Onno van der Hart, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of the Psychopathology of Chronic Traumatisation, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands