In this presentation, I will explore the social and clinical implications of covering up our exposed vulnerability as unique individuals. Given that shame is characterized by doubts about our fundamental adequacy, we attempt to live in the world by covering up our shame as individuals by taking refuge under the umbrella of external authority. Loyalty to a strong leader or social conformity to group norms derive often from the need to cover oneself. In this sense, a primary aim of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is to help patients accept their own uniqueness as individuals. I will explore the importance of respecting the agency of patients and modeling an ethic of curiosity, inquiry, and understanding in interacting with patients. I will conclude by showing how self-acceptance is also related to the process of mourning the original disillusionments that led to one’s shame.
Peter Shabad, PhD is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University Medical School. He is on the Teaching and Supervising Faculty of the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis
(CCP) and the Teaching and Supervising Faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He is also Supervising and Training Analyst at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis He is an Associate Editor on the Editorial Board of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Dr. Shabad is co-editor of The Problem of Loss and Mourning: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (IUP, 1989) and is the author of Despair and the Return of Hope: Echoes of Mourning in Psychotherapy (Aronson, 2001). Dr. Shabad is currently working on a new book entitled Seizing The Vital Moment: Passion, Shame, and Mourning to be published by Routledge.