1st Edition

Understanding and Working with Shame Psychotherapeutic, Cultural and Philosophical Perspectives

By Carsten René Jørgensen Copyright 2025
    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book discusses the pivotal role of shame in a wide range of mental disorders and as a driving force in societal polarization and escalating conflicts between nations and population groups.   

    Exploring the phenomenology of one of the most vulnerable and painful of human emotions: Shame, Jørgensen dives deep into its many facets and the ways in which it manifests in mental illnesses and everyday life. Delving into an in-depth discussion of the differentiation between the moral and ethical feelings of guilt and shame, he presses the need to distinguish between constructive and destructive feelings of shame. He examines how shame permeates societal and cultural expectations, on both individual and collective levels. Solution-centric in its approach, the author not only discusses the destructive feelings of shame particularly common among individuals with more severe mental disorders, but also offers specific advice to therapists on how to deal with it.   

    The book will be an essential read for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, philosophers, and anyone wanting to understand the power of shame in our lives.  

    1. Introduction  2. Historical developments in our understanding of shame  3. The phenomenology of shame: How is shame experienced? 3.1 The spectrum of shame: Constructive versus destructive shame 3.2 The subjective experience of shame  4. The basic structure of shame in relation to human sociality 4.1 Sartre’s view: Shame and alienation 4.2 Scheler’s approach: Shame in the encounter of spirit and nature 4.3 Different forms of shame 4.4 Defences against and reactions to shame 4.5 Shame and guilt: Two inherently different moral affects  5. Destructive shame and mental illness 5.1 Eating disorders 5.2 Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 5.3 Borderline personality disorder 5.4 Narcissistic and evasive personality disorder 5.5 Depression, anxiety, self-harm and substance abuse 5.6 Identity disturbances  6. Shame and contemporary culture 6.1 The dark side of individualistic and meritocratic competition societies 6.2 Shame as a driver of escalating conflicts – and cultural polarization  7. Psychotherapeutic work with destructive shame 7.1 The therapist’s stance and actions in the encounter with the patient  8. Conclusion

    Biography

    Carsten René Jørgensen is a professor of clinical psychology at Aarhus University, Department of Psychology, trained in group analytic psychotherapy and (since 2001) attached to the Clinic for Personality Disorders, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Denmark.