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Amsterdam, B.K. Levitt, M. (1980). Consciousness of Self and Painful Self-Consciousness. Psychoanal. St. Child, 35:67-83.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 35:67-83

Consciousness of Self and Painful Self-Consciousness

Beulah Kramer Amsterdam, Ph.D. and Morton Levitt, Ph.D.

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so


Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with


WALT WHITMAN, Song of Myself

Hold it up sternly—see this it sends back

(who is it? is it you?)

Outside fair costume, within ashes and filth …

Such from one look in this looking-glass ere you

go hence,

Such a result so soon—and from such a beginning!


SINCE DARWIN (1872), THE NEGATIVE EMOTION OF SHAME HAS BEEN described as a consequence of a heightened awareness of self. There appears to be a prevailing belief, both in the lay and the psychological literature (Izard, 1978p. 408), that self-consciousness invariably is a painful affect associated with being the center of attention.

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