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Cohen, K. (2019). Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach by Patricia A. DeYoung, Routledge, New York, 2015, 190pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 79(2):250-252.

(2019). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 79(2):250-252

Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach by Patricia A. DeYoung, Routledge, New York, 2015, 190pp.

Review by:
Kenneth Cohen

Expressions of loathing self-hate, self-injurious urges, intolerant perfectionism and defensive projections are the psychological catacombs harboring deep and chronic shame. Patricia DeYoung has presented an exciting and novel approach to chronic shame as a core component of many clinical presentations, offering innovative insight to engage shame as a gateway to emotional growth. Peering through the lens of relational attunement, DeYoung frames shame as “an experience of one's felt sense of self disintegration in relation to a dysregulating other” (p. 18).

DeYoung constructs a shame paradigm that serves as an adaptive and protective sentry warding off self-annihilation. Clearly though, the protection garners a heavy price exiling the self into a lonely, isolated sanctuary during development then turning into a prison in adulthood. Shame is reformatted as critical survival element protecting yet exploring the possibilities of Real Self expression. DeYoung describes shame as a force field, “of one's felt sense of self disintegration” (p. 19) conceived by repeated emphatic failures of early childhood development “in relationship to a significant dysregulated other” (p. 22). She explores the way shame is the result of chronic relational misattunement, which requires the development of defensive adaptations that lead to various pathological behaviors. By grounding shame in a two-person relational experience, the emotion of shame is “neither affect or cognition; when felt, it is a total ‘world of experience’” (p.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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