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Auerbach, J.S. (1995). Shame and the Self: Francis J. Broucek. New York: Guilford Press, 1991, xx + 168 pp., $26.95.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(1):159-163.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(1):159-163

Shame and the Self: Francis J. Broucek. New York: Guilford Press, 1991, xx + 168 pp., $26.95.

Review by:
John S. Auerbach, Ph.D.

Just over one decade ago, the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis published two brief and largely overlooked articles. In them, Francis Broucek (1979, 1982) integrated Tomkins's (1962, 1963) neo-Darwinian affect theory, findings from infancy research, and psychoanalytic theory into a strikingly original conceptualization of the problem of narcissism—one that rejected widespread notions of early development as a period of undifferentiation. Instead, Broucek saw narcissism as a developmental consequence of the emergence first of the innate affect shame and later of the capacity for reflexive self-awareness. More than 10 years later, these articles stand out as remarkable not only for their concision but also because their publication antedated by several years that of Stern's (1985) groundbreaking but compatible reformulation of infant development. Broucek's Shame and the Self, a book-length elaboration of these ideas, is just as remarkable, once again, in its brevity but also, and more important, for its innovative synthesis of ideas from psychoanalysis, neo-Darwinian affect theory, developmental psychology, existential phenomenology, and cultural theory in explaining the connections among shame, the self, and narcissism. In this review, I detail Broucek's revision of the problem of narcissism and the self.

The preverbal origins of the self, Broucek argues, lie in infantile experiences of efficacy and, ultimately, of interpersonal communion. A sense of efficacy involves more than just a mastery of the physical environment; it requires competence in the interpersonal world, and interpersonal competence in turn requires sensitive responsiveness from primary caregivers.

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