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Kinston, W. (1983). A Theoretical Context for Shame. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 64:213-226.

(1983). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 64:213-226

A Theoretical Context for Shame

Warren Kinston


The psychoanalytic literature on shame is critically reviewed. A vagueness and incompleteness in formulations is noted which appears to be related to an adherence to the structural and topographical models. Shame is shown to have a clearly defined place in object-relations theory, in particular within the theory of narcissism as developed elsewhere by the author. It is the signal, affective and cognitive, that a move from 'self-narcissism' to 'object-narcissism' is about to occur. The phenomenology of the shame experience as emphasized by other workers is collated and shown to be capable of coherent and consistent integration within this model. Aspects of shame which have been previously neglected are discussed including the unconscious sense of shame and specific mechanisms for dealing with shame.

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