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Morrison, A.P. (2008). The Analyst's Shame. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(1):65-82.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(1):65-82

The Analyst's Shame

Andrew P. Morrison, M.D.

Shame is briefly described in terms of affective experience, its signal qualities, and its role as trigger and response to characterological defenses. While patient shame has been elaborated in recent years, the analyst's shame has been less considered. Since shame is so contagious a noxious emotion, exploration of patient shame inevitably evokes shame in the therapist. Sources of analyst/ therapist shame are assessed in this paper, including countertransference reactions, convictions of inefficacy in the therapeutic endeavor; and responses to patients' non-mutually determined termination. Broader patterns of analyst shame are examined with regard to the training institution (e.g., training analyst status, referral patterns); the broader community (e.g., the role of dynamic psychotherapy in the pantheon of psychological and medical treatment); and personal factors (e.g., aging and illness). A perspective is offered on these subjective shaming assaults.

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