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Chefetz, R.A. (2017). Dignity is the Opposite of Shame, and Pride is the opposite of Guilt. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 11(2):119-133.

(2017). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 11(2):119-133

Dignity is the Opposite of Shame, and Pride is the opposite of Guilt

Richard A. Chefetz, M.D.

In the analysis of a mind laden with shame there is an often disorganising effect of the naming of shame experience that can evoke extremes of destabilising emotional and psychophysiological responses that can activate dissociative processes and create alterations in consciousness. Clinician initiated use of the word dignity, as the opposite of shame, has the utility to both name shame experience by implication and create a non-toxic language for discussion of the extremes of being, such as feelings of nothingness, that often plague survivors of profound interpersonal and developmental trauma. Pride may be better thought of as the opposite of guilt in the context of such a psychotherapy. A clinical vignette is used to illustrate this constellation of language and its application in the discourse of the treatment of a severely abused person.

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