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Fosshage, J.L. (1994). Commentary on Andrew Morrison's “The Breadth and Boundaries of a Self-Psychological Immersion in Shame”. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(1):37-44.
(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(1):37-44
Commentary on Andrew Morrison's “The Breadth and Boundaries of a Self-Psychological Immersion in Shame”
James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.
Andy Morrison has contributed substantially to the illumination and understanding of shame and its relationship to self-regulation. He has provided us with a rich paper touching on many aspects of shame and courageously shared some of his personal experiences—with which we can all identify—experiences that have served as the subjective basis for his interest in this topic.
For purposes of discussion I provide a schematic overview of a theory of shame affect, highlighting some of the important conceptual issues Morrison addressed, and then focus on Morrison's clinical encounter with Manfred.
Affects fundamentally shape self-experience. As with all affects, the experience of shame varies in intensity, duration, precipitants, and meaning. It is typically associated with feelings of defeat, failure, unworthiness and despair. It is painful and enervating. Our wish is to relieve ourselves of it as quickly as possible and to become revitalized.
I shall begin my discussion of shame with a story about Kachina, my Alaskan husky. We were at our vacation home on an island in a lake. One morning in August, shortly after we had put her outside, she came back, shame-faced, defeated, and with a substantial number of porcupine quills protruding from her face. We raced her off to the vet for repair. That afternoon we picked her up. A bit groggy from the general anesthetic, she, nevertheless, looked ready to go. On the boat ride back to our house, she sat on the back seat with the wind blowing in her face, raised her head, and began to howl. As she did so, her vigor increased,
Dr. Fosshage is Cofounder, Board Director, and Faculty Member of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. He is also a Faculty Member and Supervising Analyst at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.