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Morrison, A.P. (2008). Shame—Considerations and Revisions: Discussion of Papers by Sandra Buechler and Donna Orange. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(1):105-109.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(1):105-109

Shame—Considerations and Revisions: Discussion of Papers by Sandra Buechler and Donna Orange

Andrew P. Morrison, M.D.

Sandra Buechler's sensitive and thoughtful presentation of shame, and the process of shaming psychoanalytic candidates, is convincing and confronting. She raises consciousness regarding shame of all concerned with the education of future psychoanalysts. Her paper is rife with what I have called “the language of shame” (Morrison, 1996)—words like inadequate, compare, naked, exposed, disappear, ineptness, incapacity, evaluated, competition, failure, envy, shadows, limitations. These words and the images they evoke form a veritable mantel of shame that burdens candidates at times, as they do so many of the rest of us. Buechler offers several guidelines to help mitigate some of the potentially shaming and harmful effects of training and supervision on candidates. Among the most helpful of these, I found, are the effort to generate in candidates curiosity about and anticipation and acceptance of (inevitable) shame during training; recognition that shame itself occurs naturally and inexorably in the training process; support of the candidate's pride in her courage to face and appreciate her experience of shame; and, finally, evolution toward wisdom rather than toward the isolated intellect—to value “savoring” “appreciat[ion] of shades of difference” over cognitive and theoretical hierarchies.

My personal experience with shame has followed the path that Buechler proposes. I first became interested in studying shame because I vaguely sensed it as an important concern of my own, as well as a principal experience of a particular patient of mine. It was in the process of studying and writing about shame—my own and my patient's, and shame's theoretical underpinnings—that I became familiar, accepting, and finally at home with my shame, in this way following Buechler's prescription for dealing with pernicious “shame over shame.”

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