Skam i den tidlige udvikling & dens konsekvenser

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Sarah Overgaard Henriksen
  • Charlotte Rieber-Mohn
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
The current master thesis involves a psychological theoretical exploration of shame as an underlying organising construct in psychological life. Shame is viewed as an affect intimately linked with its experiential element. The central theoretical model of this thesis is Intersubjectivity theory which proposes that psychological life is forged within the child-caregiver system. Furthermore, the unfolding of psychological life is viewed as arising solely from lived experiences, in which connection affects are rated as the motivating capacity. Based on this accentuation of affects, in the unfolding of subjective life, this current thesis asks how shame influences the individual when it occurs early in life. In order to further investigate this question, a synthesis was drawn between Allan Schore’s neuroaffective perspective, Gershen Kaufman’s affect theory and Andrew Morrison’s self-psychology. Collectively, these models contributed to an understanding of the function of shame in early life as adaptive with regard to the development of the central nervous system and the affect regulatory system. It is proposed that shame functions as an adaptive socialising inhibitor of increased levels of arousal. Furthermore, this thesis argues that shame can adopt a maladaptive function in early life. The quality of the crucial child-caregiver system determines which of the two functions comes to hold the dominant position. Shame is considered maladaptive, as the child repeatedly is left feeling shameful without the primary caregiver’s help to regulate this state. As a result of this, the child deduces that it is worthless. Hence, shame will gradually constitute the individual’s experience of itself and organise its future experiences in life. Thus, an underlying construct of shame emerges. Hereafter, the thesis sets forth an investigation of the individual’s difficulties generated by unregulated shame and its accompanying underlying construct and, furthermore, possible parallels to established psychiatric diagnoses. In considering the latter issue, it became evident that the difficulties caused by unregulated shame in early childhood have clear parallels with the diagnoses narcissistic personality disorder, depression, and eating disorders. As such, it was concluded that unregulated shame in early life has a mediating role in the development of psychopathology. The authors stress that difficulties caused by unregulated shame are viewed as debilitating, regardless of the diagnostic criteria are meet. Finally, this thesis aims to explore how shame based difficulties could give rise to specific challenges in a therapy. Several relevant challenges with regard to the therapist work were highlighted. This includes: challenges linked to approaching the painful subjective truth, establishing and sustaining a secure therapeutic relationship and the therapist remaining emotional available when the individual, due to childlike expectations, places extensive demands on the therapist. These challenges become particularly salient when taking into consideration that the therapist has natural human limitations. Furthermore, a number of challenges are put forth in connection to attuning to and working with an impaired nervous system. Overall, this thesis presents a theoretical model explaining the underlying construct of shame’s influence in human life, mental disorders and therapy.
LanguageDanish
Publication date28 May 2014
Number of pages124
ID: 198214877