chapter  4
22 Pages

Defenses Against Shame

This chapter presents many specific defenses against shame. Some individuals, relentlessly repeating their use of particular defenses, become defined by their defenses. However, if the shame is particularly powerful, if the initial experience is very strong, or if individuals are particularly vulnerable to shame because of early childhood experiences, then they become more likely to invoke the defences. In therapy clients particularly need help understanding that psychological defenses operate differently cognitively than normal thinking. However, since denial is associated with an increased probability for relapse, therapists need to balance respect for their clients' internal protective defenses with their need to face reality. Clients who utilize this defense must continually attempt to transfer their feelings of weakness and shame onto others. The shamers in this manner gain relief from the threat that they might be shamed and overpowered by those others. Arrogance is a defense against shame that is very familiar in the substance abuse field.