Shame and the Social Bond – Summary

Thomas J. Scheff: „Emotion has long been recognized in sociology as crucially important, but most references to it are generalized and vague. In this essay, I nominate shame, specifically, as the premier social emotion. First I review the individualized treatment of shame in psychoanalysis and psychology, and the absence of social context. Then I consider the contributions to the social dimensions of shame by six sociologists (Georg Simmel, Charles Cooley, Norbert Elias, Helen Lynd, Erving Goffman, Richard Sennett) and a psychologist/psychoanalyst (Helen Lewis). I show that Cooley and Lynd, particularly, made contributions to a theory of shame and the social bond. Lewis’s idea that shame arises from threats to the bond integrates the contributions of all six sociologists, and points toward future research on emotion, conflict, and alienation/ integration.“


Shame and the Social Bond: A Sociological Theory

But speaking of the fundamentals of ’shame‘ on 4 th of March 16 this occured to me:

„After a long journey into the topic of shame I finally arrived at this insight: The moment you become aware of ‚yourself‘ as as an ‚isolated being‘ in the world (’self-awareness‘) the feeling of shame arises for the first time. It’s message to you: you are totally wrong, you are not ok!

And yes, this is a very adequate feeling, because no one really is an island, an isolated being. So along with shame comes this important message, this precious reminder!

But shame immediately gets ‚exploited‘ by society, by others. They tell you: „We accept you despite the fact, that that you are fundamentally not ok. We want you to do everything to become ok, ok?“ And you feel ‚relieved‘ and ‚thankful‘, as well as hateful and revengeful.

From this moment to the end of your life you are totally trapped, imprisoned, and fundamentalliy panic stricken.

And the whole thing is a carefully guarded secret. So please, shut up, to not let it go any further!!!!!! One way or another: SHAME ON YOU!“

See also:

Scham und Selbstbild

& Alan Watts, Die Illusion des Ich:

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