Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Dissertation on shame. Chapter 15.6 Depression
An individual who feels shame does not feel shame about something. Feeling shame about something is not shame, it is only a symptom, or as the doctor would say, the sickness has not yet been diagnosed. All shame is based on feelings of shame about one’s self. People who feel shame will act ashamed; they experience the self as shameful. Those who feel shame may feel as if they are dying, even though they know that they cannot die of shame; only with it. This is what Kierkegaard, in my interpretation, might mean by saying that despair is a sickness in the self, a sickness unto death.
Ivar, Helga, Gunhild and Linda all have live stories which include feelings of depression and not wanting to live:
Ivar_1: I decided when I was seventeen that my life was over. I decided to do it then. Umm I don’t know why, but I started to think umm of someone in my family umm one of my aunts and how she would react… and I had the same thoughts (.) three years ago… I’m awfully tired of living. I really just want to die.
Helga: Depressed. I just wanted to die.
Gunhild: I never thought I would live to be eighteen years old.
Linda: A meaningful life doesn’t exist, you just don’t have the energy to go on living, and you resign yourself in a way, because (.) I tried to commit suicide when I couldn’t take it anymore. You just don’t see any other way out of it all.
Being tired of living, wanting to die, losing hope in the future, resigning, trying to commit suicide can in my opinion be seen in relation to depression. Both shame and guilt are usually associated with depression, but several studies suggest that the effect of guilt disappears if shame is statistically controlled for (shame-free guilt) and that only shame has a strong, unique effect on depression (Fontaine, Luyten, De Boeck and Corveleyn 2001; Tangney, Wagner and Gramzow 1992). Orth, Berking and Burkhardt (2006) have investigated the relationship between shame and depression in a sample of 149 mothers and fathers following family breakups due to marital separation. Their results suggest that shame, not guilt, has a strong, unique effect on depression and that the effect of shame comes from self-reflection. They argue that shame, but not guilt, involves the imagined negative evaluation of the self from the perspective of significant others. The self-esteem system reacts with a significant drop in levels of self-esteem to warn the individual that his/her relational values are at risk. The threat to the fundamental need for belongingness elicits self-reflection; one is obsessed with problems and potential solutions and reflects persistently on negative aspects of the self, increasing depression.
Kaare T. Pettersen
Pettersen,Kaare Torgny, 2009: An Exploration into the Concept and Phenomenon of Shamewithin the Context of Child Sexual Abuse. An Existential-Dialogical Perspectiveof Social Work within the Settings of a Norwegian Incest Centre. PhD 2009 Department of Social Work and HealthScience Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management. NorwegianUniversity of Science and Technology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. Doctoral theses 2009: 184