Best Answer

There are two varieties of shame:

1. The Narcissistic Shame ("shamelessness") which is the experience of the Grandiosity Gap (and its affective correlate). Subjectively it is experienced as a pervasive feeling of worthlessness (the regulation of self-worth is the crux of pathological Narcissism), "invisibleness" and ridiculousness. The patient feels pathetic and foolish, deserving of mockery and humiliation.

In the narcissist, shame is so intolerable that the means have been developed not to experience it at all. What psychologists call "bypassed shame" looks like shamelessness or the absence of a conscience, hiding behind a protective barrier of denial, coldness, blame, or rage. Since there are no healthy internal mechanisms available to process this painful feeling, the shame is directed outward, away from the Self. It can never be "my fault."

Shame is among the most unbearable of human feelings, regardless of our age or station in life. Unlike guilt, it speaks not to the misdeed but to the misery of a pervasive personal flaw. We first experience shame in the eyes of our mother or primary attachment figure, when, starting around the age of one, we bring her (usually) our excitement and, instead of sharing our pleasure, she scowls and says, "No!" Her unexpected disapproval shatters the illusion of power and importance that is how we see ourselves at that early age, derived from our union with her. Without warning, we have been ejected from this paradise, and it can only be because we are bad. We feel bad, therefore we are bad.

For some children, this experience, repeated over and over in the course of socialization, is so crushing that they never quite get over it, and they spend their lives avoiding anything that makes them feel ashamed. Recent research in neurobiology has shown that the developing brain is not yet ready to process the intense experience of shame at the age when socialization begins and that the lack of an emotionally attuned parent at this crucial time can actually stunt -- for life -- the growth of the pathways for regulating such profoundly unpleasant emotions. What helps the infant's brain develop properly is for parents to provide what the young brain is not yet able to, the soothing of the very shame they have inflicted.

More typically, the shamelessness of the Narcissist comes across as cool indifference or even amorality. We sense that these people are emotionally shallow, and we may think of them as thick-skinned, sure of themselves, and aloof. Then, all of a sudden, they may surprise us by reacting to some minor incident or social slight. When shaming sneaks past the barriers, these "shameless" ones are unmasked for what they really are -- supremely shame-sensitive. That is when you will see a flash of hurt, usually followed by rage and blame. When the stink of shame has penetrated their walls, they fumigate with a vengeance.

Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways -- to face it, neutralize it, and move on as healthier individuals do -- leads to the characteristic postures, attitudes, and behavior of the Narcissist.

Narcissists adopt all kinds of defenses to counter narcissistic shame. They appear "hypomanic", developing addictive or impulsive behaviours. They deny, withdraw, rage, engage in the compulsive pursuit of some kind of (unattainable, of course) perfection. They display haughtiness and exhibitionism and so on. All these defenses are employed primitively (or are primitive, like splitting) and involve projective identification.

2. The second type of shame is Self-Related Shame. It is a result of the gap between grandiosity (or Ego Ideal) and self or Ego. This is a well-known concept of shame and it has been treated widely in the works of Freud [1914], Reich [1960], Jacobson [1964], Kohut [1977], Kingston [1983], Spero [1984] and Morrison [1989].

A clear distinction has to be drawn between GUILT (or control) � related shame and conformity-related shame.

Guilt is an "objectively" determinable philosophical entity (given relevant knowledge regarding societal and cultural make up). It is context-dependent. It is the derivative of an underlying assumption by OTHERS that a Moral Agent does control certain aspects of the world. This assumed control by the agent imputes guilt to it, if it acts in a manner incommensurate with prevailing mores, or refrains from acting in a manner commensurate with them.

So, shame here is a result of the ACTUAL occurrence of AVOIDABLE outcomes which imputes guilt to a Moral Agent.

We must distinguish GUILT from GUILT FEELINGS, though. Guilt feelings (and the attaching shame) can be ANTICIPATORY. A Moral Agent assumes, similarly, that it has control over certain aspects of the world. But then, it is able to predict the outcomes of INTENTIONS and feels guilt and shame as a result.

Guilt Feelings are composed of a component of Fear and a component of Anxiety. Fear is related to the external, objective, observable consequences of actions or inaction by the Moral Agent. Anxiety has to do with INNER consequences. It is ego-dystonic and threatens the identity of the Moral Agent because being Moral is an important part of it. The internalisation of guilt feelings leads to a shame reaction.

So, shame has to do with guilty feelings, not with GUILT, per se. These guilty feelings are a composite of reactions and anticipated reactions of others to external outcomes such as waste, disappointment of others, failure (the FEAR component) plus the reactions and anticipated reactions of the Moral Agent itself to internal outcomes (helplessness or loss of presumed control, narcissistic injuries � the ANXIETY component).

There is also conformity-related shame. It has to do with the feeling of "otherness". It similarly involves a component of fear (of the reactions of others to one's otherness) and of anxiety (of the reactions of one to one's own otherness).

Guilt-related shame is more connected to self-related shame (perhaps through a psychic construct akin to the Superego). On the other hand, conformity-related shame is more typical of narcissistic shame.

The N friend I have been working on purging from my life has always used her shame as an attention-getting device. She "exhibits" her piggish manners and her many diseases as points of pride. But then she reiterates for the jillionth time that her parents rejected her for the "pretty baby sister"; that her grandmother beat her for puking on the tablecloth; and that even her first husband berated her for being heavier than he was. She blows hot and cold on shame--first she is the absolute best at something, better than anyone: "I made the absolute best soup the other night"; then she has the worst of something the world has ever seen: if you have a cold, she has a worse one. She even seems to brag about how bad her untreated Diabetes is getting, as if she has no control over it.

User Avatar

Wiki User

โˆ™ 2011-09-14 09:03:12
This answer is:
User Avatar
Study guides

Mental Health

23 cards

What does Mr Collins do for a living

What treatment approach is based on Freud's theories

What is the activation-synthesis theory

What is the focus of mental health treatment

See all cards
1 Review

Add your answer:

Earn +20 pts
Q: What is the connection between narcissism and shame?
Write your answer...
Related questions

Is there a connection between narcissism and bisexuality?

No study or research at any time has shown any connection whatsoever.

Is there any connection between bipolar disorder and narcissism?

Yes, it is common to experience narcissism if you have bi-polar, but talk to a medical health professional about it, and you worries.

Is there a link between narcissism and severe hoarding?

everything peeps do is connected to exceptions.

Who said He had a chance between war and shame he chose shame?


When was On Narcissism created?

On Narcissism was created in 1914.

What is the difference between a narcissist and a s?

Narcissism is a psychological disorder. S is a letter.

What is the connection between miracles and faith?

what is the connection between miracles and faith ? what is the connection between miracles and faith ?

When was The Culture of Narcissism created?

The Culture of Narcissism was created in 1979.

How do you put connection in a sentence?

i can not see the Connection. Do you feel the Connection with this place?

What are the chances you can get narcissism?

You don't "get" narcissism. It is genetic and PERMANENT and does not respond to treatment

Is narcissism an abstract noun?

yes it is because the adjective of narcissism is narcissistic

Can you explain narcissism?

Narcissism is the false display of love on the self and at the expense of others. Narcissism is self gratifying and manipulative to the detriment of others.

Is there a connection between a metalloid and a semiconductor?

What is the connection between a metaloid and a semiconductor

Is there a connection between cystic fibrosis and cholera?

Yes there is connection between them!!

The synapse is a connection between what?

A synapse is the connection between a dendrite and an axon.

What is the connection between urbanization and immigration?

what is the connection between urbanization and immigration

Is the Stonehenge a connection between aliens?

No there is no connection

Is there a connection between Epilepsy and lesions?

No there is no connection.

Sentence for narcissism?

Kelly's narcissism prevented her from forming genuine friendships with other people. Another phrase for narcissism is self-absorption. It is a noun.

Can you make a sentence with narcissism?

His narcissism will always prevent him from having a real relationship.

When was Malignant Narcissism - instrumental - created?

Malignant Narcissism - instrumental - was created in 2007.

What is the connection between high cholesterol and prostate cancer?

There is no connection between the two.

What is the connection between homosexuality and health?

There is no connection between health and sexual orientation.

Is there a connection between Katy Perry and Kenny G?

no there isn't a connection between them!!

Is narcissism curable?