Shame influences more of our thoughts and actions than many other emotions. Used as a punishment for bad behavior, shame acts as an incentive for us to behave in socially acceptable ways. As a common method used to regulate children’s behavior, shame is by far one of the most pervasive socializing agents. Many of our more persistent, punitive, and critical feelings about ourselves stem from humiliations in early childhood even if we don’t remember the specific events that prompted them.
While we all experience shame from time to time, when shame becomes toxic, it can play a central role in our life-long development and functioning. At its worst, shame can become a devastating attack on one’s personhood and a threat to the integrity of the self.
Many books on shame and the process of healing have been written, but few have been written specifically from a psychodynamic depth psychology perspective. It is intended that The Trauma of Shame and The Making of the Self will make an important contribution to that effort.
— Shelley Stokes, PhD, and Sherron Lewis, LMFT, authors of Letting Go and Taking the Chance to be Real (Lewis and Stokes 2017)