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Hultberg, P. (1988). Shame—a Hidden Emotion. J. Anal. Psychol., 33(2):109-126.

(1988). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 33(2):109-126

Shame—a Hidden Emotion

Peer Hultberg

Emotions, affects, feelings play an essential part in our daily work. We try to bring our patients into contact with their genuine personal feelings; and when we talk about making the unconscious conscious we generally assume that repressed or chaotic feelings, perhaps even more than intellectual contents, are being made accessible to the ego. From a theoretical point of view Freud early on underlined the decisive importance of split-off, suppressed, and repressed feelings in the aetiology of neurosis; the theoretical basis of analytical psychology is Jung's discovery of the feeling-toned complexes. Nevertheless, emotions and feelings seem recently to have been neglected not only in discussions of Jungian psychology, but in much psychoanalytical literature. This may be a reflection of a general trend in our Western culture today: one has merely to compare the rather short list of words for feeling states used by a modern analyst with, for example, Descartes's description of the forty-nine emotions Traite des passions de I'ame (1649), in order to realise the present-day lack of differentiation when it comes to perceiving and describing emotions.

For a Jungian analyst this is perhaps most clearly seen when it comes to feelings connected with the shadow and the persona. In the concept of the shadow we have an excellent and highly varied possibility of expressing suppressed and repressed psychic contents, and practically as well as theoretically we work confidently with phrases like emergence of the murder shadow, succumbing to the thieving shadow, being overwhelmed by the shadow of the traitor. However, when we wish to describe the affects connected with such figures, our vocabulary often seem surprisingly undifferentiated, and we can offer only a very narrow scale of possibilities. This may easily give rise in our patients to a feeling of not being understood or of being emotionally abandoned, and the reproach of merely labelling may be justified.

In this paper I would like to discuss an emotion which has been much neglected not only in depth psychology but also in philosophy, in ethics, and in the humanities as such: the feeling of shame.

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