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Shame

Definition

Shame is one of the most overlooked emotions, at least among individuals residing in Western cultures. Feelings of shame can have a profound effect on one's level of psychological adjustment and one's relationships with others, but these feelings nonetheless often go undetected. People rarely speak of their shame experiences. Denial and a desire for concealment are part of the phenomenology of shame itself. People shrink from their own feelings of shame, just as they recoil from others in the midst of a shame experience. To further complicate matters, shame can masquerade as other emotions, hiding behind guilt, lurking behind anger, fueling despair and depression.

People's tendency to confuse shame with guilt has helped relegate shame to a footnote in psychology's first century. In professional writings and ...

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