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McLaughlin, J.T. (2002). The Shame Response to Rejection: Herbert E. Thomas. Sewickley, PA: Albanel, 1997, 86 pp., $26.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 50(3):1088-1090.

(2002). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 50(3):1088-1090

The Shame Response to Rejection: Herbert E. Thomas. Sewickley, PA: Albanel, 1997, 86 pp., $26.00.

Review by:
James T. McLaughlin

This small volume speaks to all of us who in any way—whether as judge or teacher, parent or analytic therapist—hold power over others, and thereby hold both the power to avoid or inflict rejection and shaming, and the responsibility to provide remediation.

Herbert Thomas as psychoanalyst provides us with a fresh perspective on matters of shame. He centers shame in the experience of rejection, at the moment when needed acceptance is repudiated in ways that reject the need and objectify the seeker. He finds this root of shame to be the major painful affect state driving our psychosocial development.

Thomas as physician wants us to grasp that this moment is one of unspeakable physical pain. He cites word fragments gleaned from patients, poets, and writers. Their gropings touch the nadir of human experience: body ego states of emptiness and crushing pain in chest and abdomen, total nothingness, fear and helpless rage—feelings akin to abandonment at its worst.

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