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Kaufman, G. (1985).  Shame: The Power of Caring.
"Defenses against shame are adaptive. They have been the client's only ways of surviving intolerable shame. Strategies of defense aim at protecting the self against further exposure and further experiences of shame. Several of the most prominent strategies are rage, contempt for others, the striving for perfection, the striving for power, and internal withdrawal. Both perfectionism and excessive power-seeking are strivings against shame and attempt to compensate for the sense of defectiveness which underlies internalized shame. None of these are unitary strategies; rather, they become expressed in unique and varied ways, with several often functioning together." (p. 128) "All of us embrace a common humanity in which we search for meaning in living, for essential belonging with others, and for valuing of who we are as unique individuals. We need to feel that we are worthwhile in some especial way, as well as whole inside. We yearn to feel that our lives are useful, that what we do and who we are do matter. Yet times come upon us when doubt creeps inside, as if an inner voice whispers despair. Suddenly, we find ourselves questioning our very worth or adequacy. It may come in any number of ways: "I can't relate to people." "I'm a failure." "Nobody could possibly love me." "I'm inadequate as a man or as a woman." When we have begun to doubt ourselves, and in this way to question the very fabric of our lives, secretly we feel to blame; the deficiency lies within ourselves alone. Where once we stood secure in our personhood, now we feel a mounting inner anguish, a sickness of the soul. This is shame.

Above all else, shame reveals the self inside the person, thereby exposing it to view. To feel shame is to feel seen in a painfully diminished sense. This feeling of exposure constitutes an essential aspect of shame. Whether all eyes are upon me or only my own, I feel deficient in some vital way as a human being. And in the midst of shame, an urgent need to escape or hide may come upon us."

Twerski, A. J. (2009).  Without a Job, Who Am I?: Rebuilding Your Self When You've Lost Your Job, Home, Or Life Savings.
"Logically, there is no reason to feel either guilt or shame when one is laid off. However, as we have seen, shame is an all-too-common reaction. This irrational feeling might be easy to overcome were it not that it acts like a booster shot and recalls the distressing feelings of shame that one experienced in childhood. Just as the body reacts with a huge output of antibodies, the mind, too, remembers and may react with a great deal of shame." (p. 18)

See also: blame, punishment, despair, stigma, humiliation

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SKOS concepts and relations

Concept Scheme: business culture/management vocabulary

URI: business culture/management vocabulary


  • Concept: shame
    • preferred: shame
    • alternate: ashamed
    • definition: a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt
    • related: blame
    • related: punishment
    • related: despair
    • related: stigma
    • narrower: humiliation
    • closeMatch:
    • keyword-107
    • linked content:
      • in scheme:
      • gloss: a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt
      • hyponym of:
      • sense: shame
      • synset id: 107506569
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