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Benau, K. (2017). Shame, Attachment, and Psychotherapy: Phenomenology, Neurophysiology, Relational Trauma, and Harbingers of Healing. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 11(1):1-27.

(2017). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 11(1):1-27

Shame, Attachment, and Psychotherapy: Phenomenology, Neurophysiology, Relational Trauma, and Harbingers of Healing

Ken Benau, Ph.D.

Shame is part of our shared humanity. Shame is fundamental to our work as psychotherapists, reflecting upon experiences of self, other, and relationship. Shame also lies at the heart of psychopathology and human suffering, making understanding shame essential to our work as psychotherapists. This essay describes the phenomenology of shame, with an emphasis on its neurophysiology and Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory. Differentiating shame as emotion from shame as traumatic state of mind/body is detailed as well. Applying these perspectives to our work with shame and attachment, particularly disorganised/unresolved attachment styles, with an eye toward healing relational neglect and trauma, closes this first of a two part series on shame, attachment, and psychotherapy.

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