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Grinker, R.R. (1955). Growth Inertia and Shame: Their Therapeutic Implications and Dangers. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:242-253.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:242-253

Growth Inertia and Shame: Their Therapeutic Implications and Dangers

Roy R. Grinker, M.D.


I have presented a few cases and alluded to others in an attempt to show that therapeutic procedures, both psychotherapy or psycho-analysis,

based on current psychodynamic concepts may have a mortality and a morbidity. As analysis penetrates to deeper core levels or organization beyond the goal of resolution of oedipal and bisexual conflicts it encounters special problems and dangers. These seem to be related to the universal human self-reflective, innate and/or learned, attitudes of shame at failures in realization of growth-potential. The dynamic phenomena observable to therapists, who attempt to break through defences producing neurotic suffering in an effort to stimulate the learning of new patterns of psychological organization, reveal interesting aspects of goal-seeking homeostatic regulation and goal-changing growth processes. Within the permutations of these forces of inertia and growth develops shame, to some degree innate, to some degree learned. The current techniques tend to break up illusory defences in the hope of reducing suffering, but may instead result in regression to levels of organization poorly equipped to handle reality in an adult world and reach even psychotic-like states. Defences may be reconstituted with difficulty. Shame at inertia may be dangerous and lead to self-destruction. For the technical problems raised by these theoretical concepts, all therapy including psycho-analysis should include positive procedures to avoid such mortality and morbidity.

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