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Buechler, S. (2008). Modeling Self-Exposure: Discussion of Papers by Andrew Morrison and Donna Orang. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(1):101-104.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(1):101-104

Modeling Self-Exposure: Discussion of Papers by Andrew Morrison and Donna Orang

Sandra Buechler, Ph.D.

Writing as well as talking about our own shame potentially exacerbates it. By offering us these papers, Morrison and Orange have shown that they are willing to brave self-exposure. In the clinical vignettes reported, and in choosing to have them published, both have demonstrated their prioritization of enlightenment over self-protection, or, we might say, curiosity over pride.

Orange's remarkable paper manifests her erudition while also revealing how vulnerable she feels when compared with privileged Ivy Leaguers. Could there be a more effective demonstration of her triumph over early self-esteem damage than the courage to present this paper?

Aside from sheer admiration, my response to Orange's paper includes several questions and differences of opinion.

1.   Shouldn't we separate the inevitably interpersonal triggers of shame from the intrapersonal way we experience it? For example, in the treatment setting it seems likely that both analyst and patient play some role when either feels shame. But the shame may be experienced as “located” in only one of them. Here I am agreeing with Morrison, rather than Orange, when he suggests that cocreated phenomena can, nonetheless, feel solitary.

2.   Similarly, when Orange differentiates her own thinking from that of Tomkins (which she characterizes as addressing “isolated minds”), I find myself in greater agreement with Morrison. Of course, I completely agree with Orange's assumption that there is no such thing as a patient, in the sense that all human experience is interpersonally cocreated. But not only do I agree with Morrison about the interior, solitary feel of shame, I also would take this point a few steps further. I think that we each build a life history coalesced around all the fundamental emotions.

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