Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem: A Jungian Approach
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Shame is one of our most central feelings and a universal human characteristic. Why do we experience it? For what purpose? How can we cope with excessive feelings of shame?
In an elegant exposition informed by many years of helping people to understand feelings of shame, leading Jungian analyst Mario Jacoby provides a timely and comprehensive exploration of the many aspects of shame and shows how it occupies a central place in our emotional experience. Jacoby shows a lack of self-esteem is often at the root of excessive shame. As well as providing practical examples of how therapy can help, Jacoby draws upon a wealth of historical and cultural scholarship to show how important shame is for us in both its individual and social aspects.
childhood experiences and environment. Shame is also an archetypal phenomenon. We see it in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the Jungian interpretation of the Persona, the “soul mask”. Discussing these different shame themes, Mario Jacoby illustrates his book with many examples from Jungian practice. Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem is the first book interpreting shame from a Jungian perspective. It will be of interest to all analysts and psychotherapists, both in practice
contempt for those who can never take off their persona masks, even in close relationships. Nevertheless, we always do play a role in our social network, whether that role is lover, spouse, mother, father, friend, teacher, therapist, patient, or student. The essential question is whether we can give to these roles the stamp of our unique individuality and reserve our collective masks for moments of necessity. In spite of its limitations, a role provides a generally recognized framework that in no
that he could actually fulfill such expectations. In general, compulsive self-observation becomes a problem only when others are present. Seeing ourselves as if through the eyes of others, we lose access to our own spontaneous wellsprings. We feel unremittingly 66 VARIATIONS ON THE EXPERIENCE OF SHAME exposed to the looks of others, whom we imagine as critical and derogatory. For example, a young man who suffered from an inferiority complex kept complaining to me about how he assigned others
treatment of neurotic susceptibility to shame. 76 6 MOTIFS OF SHAME IN THE THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP SHAME AS A REACTION TO THE ANALYTIC SETTING In my experience, the psychotherapeutic setting itself can cause certain reactions of shame. Thus I feel it is important to give some attention to this matter. Since most people who come to my practice are undergoing serious psychic difficulties, it is practically impossible for them not to be very anxious during the first meeting. There are those
consciousness strongly corresponds with Stern’s description of the pre-verbal sense of self and its experiences of relatedness (Neumann 1988:11). The theory that the growth of consciousness is a psychic process “guided” by the Self does not necessarily contradict the observation that the various stages of development unfold via interactions with a partner in which the infant’s self plays an active role. Michael Fordham, another proponent of the Jungian view, also took this into account in his