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Auestad, A. (1993). Comments on the Ikonen & Rechardt paper on the origin of shame. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 16(2):147-154.

(1993). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 16(2):147-154

Comments on the Ikonen & Rechardt paper on the origin of shame

Anne-Marie Auestad, M.D.

Initial Remarks

In the above-mentioned article, Ikonen & Rechardt (1993) emphasize the absence of thinking and paralysis as a result of avoidance of shame. They underline the importance of identifying and treating the feeling of shame in the analytic work, which may lead to a release in the analytic process. Reading the article inspired associations to clinical situations as well as to daily experiences and reflections.

Therefore, from the point of view of a child analyst, I will mention some thoughts which have come to my mind.

The Need to Find Reciprocity—the Theories of Object Relations

The authors put forward their view that shame is a reaction to the absence of approving reciprocity. Within this formulation, a fundamental view on development and the making of personality is contained.

In the literature survey, it is emphasized that absence of reciprocity and the feeling of being observed in this can occur on different psychosexual levels, and promote a feeling of unworthiness.

The unbearable feeling of shame can be turned against the self, “The narcissistic collapse”, or against the other. Ikonen & Rechardt (1993) suggest in the section. “The libidomatrix” that “from the moment of birth onward throughout life, the libido is a need to find reciprocity.” (p. 103). As I understand it, this is the fundament of object relations theory as proposed by for instance Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn, D. W.

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