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Abbasi, A. (2005). DISAPPEARING PERSONS: SHAME AND APPEARANCE. By Benjamin Kilborne, Ph.D. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. 192 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(3):905-909.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(3):905-909

DISAPPEARING PERSONS: SHAME AND APPEARANCE. By Benjamin Kilborne, Ph.D. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. 192 pp.

Review by:
Aisha Abbasi

Shame may be described as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous—done by oneself or another”; it is useful to distinguish it from embarrassment, which “usually refers to a feeling less painful than that of shame—associated with less serious situations, often of a social nature.” In the same realm, mortification “is a more painful feeling, akin to shame, but also more likely to arise from specifically social circumstances … [as in] ‘His mortification at being singled out for rebuke.’” Yet another similar but distinct feeling is that of humiliation, which may be understood as “mortification at being humbled in the estimation of others.”

Are these distinctions significant? I believe that they are of immense clinical value in understanding, with exquisite clarity, exactly what a patient is feeling at a given moment and in helping her sharpen her own awareness of her feelings. In the difficult journey of identifying patients' affects, defining them correctly, and understanding them, Disappearing Persons: Shame and Appearance provides useful theoretical and technical concepts, rather like beams of light brightening a murky path.

From his vantage point as a clinical psychoanalyst, and drawing richly upon his background in anthropology, history, and literature, Kilborne has written a complex book, illustrating his thinking with regard to “shame phenomena” (p.

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