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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 36 (1994) 6, 417 - 426

New research

Shame and Depression

J. Bollen

Feelings of shame have been less frequently related to the symptoms and origin of depression than feelings of guilt. Therefore, we proceeded upon an exploration of the phenomenon of shame from a psychoanalytical, self-psychological, cognitive, phenomenological and ethological viewpoint.


Shame acts as a regulating principle in families as well as in the community, but has a detrimental effect on self-esteem. Starting from these considerations, we tried to relate shame to the symptoms and the aetiology of depression.


Just as loss has been deemed a central datum of depression related to mourning, so shameful defeat and rejection seem to be key phenomena of depression as a loss of self-esteem.