chapter  3
5 Pages

Organizational and personal shame

The devastating effect of feeling a failure or being exposed as one
ByFrancesca Cardona

The public nature of working in an organization makes us more exposed to humiliation and vulnerable to shame. The challenge for organizations and individuals is to move from persecutory shame to depressive shame, accepting shame as, at times, an inevitable ingredient of the complexity of organizational life – being able to feel ashamed without collapsing under the scrutiny of other people. Losing a sense of an omnipotent self-sufficiency puts the person in touch ‘with dependent needy feelings which give rise to anxiety’. The challenge for organizations and individuals is to move from persecutory shame to depressive shame, accepting shame as, at times, an inevitable ingredient of the complexity of organizational life – being able to feel ashamed without collapsing under the scrutiny of other people. While these clients’ responses to shame were all different, they were equally powerful. Their feelings of vulnerability and sense of failure were strongly linked to their personal history and backgrounds.