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Wille, R. (2014). The Shame of Existing: An Extreme form of Shame. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(4):695-717.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(4):695-717

The Shame of Existing: An Extreme form of Shame

Robbert Wille

(Accepted for publication 19 November 2013)

This paper presents ‘the shame of existing’ as a form of shame that is deeper and more extensive than those customarily encountered. ‘The shame of existing’ is defined as shame about existing as we are and especially at the fact that we are. It is accompanied by merciless and total rejection of the subject's self and by feelings of extreme worthlessness and inferiority coupled with the all-pervasive conviction that it would be better not to exist. On the basis of clinical material, consideration is given to the specific transference and countertransference aspects of analyses in which the shame of existing constitutes an important part of the patient's pathology. Disturbance of handling and holding by the primary objects right from birth is suggested as the earliest developmental basis of the shame of existing. This disturbance is attributed to hate and rejection of the infant by the primary objects and to the infant's not being touched emotionally and physically and not having its right to exist acknowledged. The paper begins with an introduction to shame as an affect and as a concept in psychoanalytic theory.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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