27. août, 2014





Donald L. NATHANSON in Shame and Pride, Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self,Ed. W.W.Norton & Company, New York. London,1992.


Donald L. NATHANSON in Shame and Pride, Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self,
Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. London,1992.


“ Every emotion actually consists of an (...) experience initiated by some stimulus, which then triggers an affect, after which we recall previous experience of this affect, and then, finally, react to the stimulus in some manner influenced by that affective history.” P.306

Often these reactions are situational, linked to some feature of the triggering event. P.309


Tomkins’s use the term (script ) derives from our experiences of scripts in the theater, where the author set down the rules for the behavior of others. Psychological scripts are formed when we assemble a set of related scenes for the purpose of generating responses that will thereafter control and direct the outcome of such scenes. Scripts are how we realize that life events are apt to fall into predictable sequences and that our responses to both the events and the sequence tend to be predictable. Since many of the scripts contain rules for the handling of powerful affective experiences, we develop affective responses to the scripts themselves. So complex and pervasive are the habits and skills of script formation that we adults come to live more within these personal scripts for the modulation and detoxification of affect than in a world of innate affect. So it is that we adults understand or experience our emotions differently (…) p.310
Note: usually the response is defensive instead of demonstrating acceptance.


In the case of shame, our defensive scripts falls into four major patterns which I have organized as THE COMPASS OF SHAME:
(Withdrawal, attack other, attack self, avoidance) p.312
(…) The four poles of the compass of shame function as libraries that house some of the most important management scripts in our repertoire. At each pole we will find a different assembly of auxiliary affects brought up in to shore off its defenses: withdrawal is likely to be accompanied by distress and fear; attack self by self disgust and self-dissmell; avoidance by excitement, fear and enjoyment; and attack other by anger. Of all the drives, the one most closely identified is the sexual drive mechanism of the generative system. At the locus of withdrawal we will tend to find sexual abstinence, impotence and frigidity; attack self will be characterized by sexual masochism; the avoidance pole by sexual machismo; and the attack other pole is likely to be rife with sexual sadism.p.314


“Withdrawal works pretty well as a metaphor for escape (…) p.325
“Assembled alongside the scripts representing our bundled memories of defeat may be the archives of humiliation by more powerful others, the sting of shame caused by one’s relative powerlessness in society, the feeling of overall inferiority, or the haunting misery of a snub by a much- desired lover. Each of these realms of remembered shame will operate as a metaphor for the triggering incident and add its on particular seasoning to the stew.
To each of these memories we are likely to have further associations, all uncomfortable and unpleasant. For a moment, then, we may wish to be alone with our discomfort. It is at that point we may elect to accept the hint given us by the physiological phase of shame and withdrawal further into ourselves. Withdrawal allows to ponder everything that has just flooded into consciousness, to contemplate it in the privacy of our inner world. Withdrawal allows us to be overwhelmed. P.318
(…) Shame teaches us the value of privacy: the privacy that protects us from shame, and the private place to which we must repair when humiliated. Just as shame follows the exposure of whatever we wished to keep private, the wish to withdrawal provides a reasonable stratagem. P.319.
Note also: “I suspect that is during the periods of withdrawal that we make a lot of decisions about our nature.”p.320


“No matter what is revealed by the moment of shame, no matter what defect or incompetence is detected, it will become the stimulus to some form of work on self. (…) There is great relief to be obtained from any strategy that helps avoid this terrifying sense of helplessness and the deadly fear of abandonment. It is to this group of scripts that I refer as the attack self-mode of reaction to shame. Involved in this universe of systems by which we vary the biblical injunction to read instead, “Do unto yourself what you fear others may do to you”. What is it that happens when, intentionally, we put ourselves down in a conversation with others, ridicule ourselves, describe our own actions with disgust, refer to ourselves with dissmell, or exhibit anger toward our own self? Simply stated such a maneuver permits us to accept a moment of shame during which we anticipate that all of those other affects and ideas will be totally under our control. We have for instance, avoided the possibility that others really view us with dissmell or disgust because we gave them the idea in the first place. The much feared unpleasant affects still exist in the interpersonal interaction, but they have been reduced vastly in significance.” P.329
Yet, there is a dark side to the system of attack self, for some people are so willing to accept shame in order to guarantee the stability of their link to others that they become quite masochist. The conventional view of masochism represent it as a system of interpersonal activity in which one person seems to take delight in being dominated by another, even to the extent of pain and cruelty .p332


At the avoidance pole are some scripts that fool others, some by which we fool ourselves, and a few in which both are fooled. P.339
Since so much of our self-concept is derived from comparison with others, and since it is through the medium of competition that we set up purposeful systems of comparison, its stands to reason that shame stemming from some perceived but irremediable deficiency of the self can be mitigated by shifting attention toward the pride and the status achieved when one wins at something. Directly proportional to the amount of energy devoted to competition is always the degree of chronic shame linked to a persistently lowered self-image. P.351
(…) Few people engage in hard work without any expectation of reward.p.352
(…) Nevertheless, to the extend that we are unable by our own efforts to demonstrate our competence, thus giving ourselves a sense of healthy pride, or to fake efficacy and achieve false pride, what we seem to do is borrow pride and prestige through some sort of identification with others whose efficacy we admire.
When we said that someone is narcissistic, we imply the presence of beliefs about the self that cannot be substantiated, broadcast of information that cannot be confirmed. (…) Freud spoke of the “stone wall of narcissism”. So protected is the individual from the possibility of shame that great segments of reality may be kept from consciousness. P.348-349.


The lack of empathic connectedness and the consequent need for power can always be traced
to failures in the communication of affect. My concept of the attack other system may be thought of as a refinement of Sullivan “power over theme.p.371 (…)
The bully uses techniques of physical intimidation to maintain the other person in an inferior status. Bullying confers power, of course, but at the cost of tenderness and empathy. Coercion, the act of demanding compliance by the application of superior force, is another way of diminishing the self respect of another person. Throughout the business community we find examples of people who use each elevation in rank as an excuse to treat increasing numbers of people as inferiors: similarly do we see power misused in the academic, religious, military, political and artistic communities. Each of these subcultures legitimizes some characteristic form of the shame\ pride axis; in which we find individuals who look on those below them as their immediate inferiors.
Wherever there is inequality of physical strength we are likely to see groupings of people based on the need of the weaker to be protected and the need of the stronger to feel important. P.372



Love is abiding, absorbing, abstract, approving, ardent, artless, blissful, boundless, bounteous, brave, burning, celestial, chivalrous, confiding, deathless, deep rooted, earnest, endearing, enduring, entrancing, everlasting, genuine, heroic, immoderate, intimate, invincible, lavish, matchless, meritorious, mutual, mystical, nameless, never-wearying, noble, passionate, persistent, pounding, predominating, primal, profound, responsive, reverent, romantic, sentimental, sin-destroying, strong, stupendous, sustaining, tranquil, trusting, unbounded, unchanging, unconquerable, undying, unconscious, unquestioned, valiant, virtuous, visionary, vivid, willing, wondrous, yearning and zealous. Good stuff this love.
But I cheated by ignoring a host of negative modifiers. Love is also: adulterous, ambitious, animal, baffled, barbaric, betrayed, bleeding, brittle, calculating, casual, changeful, chastising, coerced, common, condescending, condemned, conventional, corrupt, costly, cunning, cutting, debasing, debatable, depraved, despised, despiteful, dire, disgusting, embittered, erring, exacting, faddist, faithless, false, feigning, festering, foolish, frustrated,
Hapless, hollow, hopeless, humiliated, illicit, immoderate, jealous, loveless, melancholy, misguided, obdurate, obsequious, one-sided, painful, palsied, paltry, pathetic, rending, repudiated, satiated, selfish, sham, shameless, sinful, thwarted, tragic, transient, transparent, unfashionable, unreasonable, unrelenting, unrequited, unrestful, unreturned, unruly, unsatisfactory, violent, warped, wasted, weakening, well-quitted, wilting and worst.
Not good for the soul this love. P.236


If we all love at all, it is because we learn to appraise the prewritten attachment behaviors that were set in motion long before we were able to interpret them. P.231 (…)
Love then, is an example of script in which the most important scenes of need and nurturance have been assembled and magnified with tremendous intensity. For each of us, love will depend on whatever scenes, whatever interpersonal interactions of nurturance, have become generalized.

Example of “ an assessment to the child response to the mother’s return (final phase to a study p p.232):
Three patterns of interaction are noticed:

In Pattern A called “Anxious/avoidant attachment” The child is readily available to separate from the mother, shows little affective sharing with her, seems affiliative with the examiner, and is well able to explore independent of her. When mother returns, these babies actively ignore her, even to the point of turning away.

Pattern B is called “Secure Attachment” Infant-mother pairs who demonstrate this type of relationship are quite different in many respects Here the infant uses the care-giver as a secure basis of exploration, readily separate from her to check out new toys in the room, freely and easily shares with mother on an affective level, and is readily comforted by her when distressed, returning easily to play. Indeed, when distressed, as by her programmed departure, these children seek out the mother for solace on her return. And on when her departure does not produce distress, for many of these securely attached babies
are quite confortable to be without their mother for a while, they greet her happily and initiate interaction with gusto.

Pattern C, “Anxious/ Resistant/ Attachment”, is characterized by quite another form of infantile response. These babies have great difficulty separating from mother even to explore the novel room in her presence. They are wary of new people and new situations.
When she returns they seem even more upset, mixing contact with resistance – kicking, squirming, rejecting toys- and occasionally showing a striking degree of passivity.

Donald L. NATHANSON in Shame and Pride, Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self,
Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. London,1992.



Léon Wurmser, surely the most gifted psychoanalytic writer ever to plumb the depths of the shame experience, has often remarked that at the core of shame is the feeling that we are both unloved and unlovable p.220

Donald L. NATHANSON in Shame and Pride, Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self,
Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. London,1992.



Key to our understanding of love are both aspects of that definition-what is loved must on the one hand be experienced as dear and precious, while on the other hand be held so with some degree of constancy p.239

Donald L. NATHANSON in Shame and Pride, Affect, Sex and the Birth of the Self,
Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. London,1992.
Picture from Carnaval de Venise Google images.


The shift from “being alone” to “ painful isolation” seems to occur when the infant needs something that cannot be provided in the absence of another person. It is then that affect is mobilized to amplify need, and whatever had been desired now becomes urgently needed from another. (…) Viewed from the vantage point of an infant whose needs are amplified by negative affect, each variant of maternal imperfection is capable of producing the experience of painful isolation and the subsequent group of affect-loaded ideas we call abandonment. The infant really can’t understand why its needs have not been met. In a sense, all experiences of unmet need can be interpreted in terms of their similarity to the type of unmet need resulting from abandonment. p.249


If shame creates a sense of a defective self it therefore creates in us a sense of an other who sees us as defective, no matter what that person really thinks of us. (…). The idea of an other who sees us as bad, or defective, or incompetent, or damaged, or small, or stupid; the idea of another whose eyes are the symbol of all that is revealed about us when we are shamed; the idea that a major defect in the self is a just and reasonable rationale for our exclusion from society of all previous an accepting others-all these are only constituents of the huge roster of possible relationships between self and other formed by the sting of shame. (…) To love grandly is to risk grand pain. P.251



Whoever feels shame the most is the most desirous of positive affect; whoever feels shame the least has renounced most successfully the goal of positive affect. P.253



Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

W. Shakespeare p.252




Post about the connection between sexuality, gender an our mind perception and behavior;

Gender identity dictates our mode of dress, our role in society, which locker room and which bathroom we use, and with whom will form kindred groups.
Despite how alike are men and women, how equal their potential to do so many tasks, they differs in many ways. Often I have joked in lectures that “what are known on this planet as men and woman are descendants of two distinct life forms first founded on far separated star system by a race of interstellar explorers who put them together on Earth in an experiment that failed” p.260

Post about the connection between sexuality, gender an our mind perception and behavior;

“ Nobody wanted to be labeled as “different.” P.257


I believe that the sexual drive, like all the other drive functions, is operative from birth.
Unlike the others drives which are fully formed when the infant emerges from birth canal, sexuality cannot take its adult form until the organism has reached full maturity. The sexual drive affects us in different ways at different times in development. Looking at the individual over time, one might say that the drive itself emerges in waves. From the moment of birth every human is sexual. (…) I know of no life form other than the human to attempts to use procreation as a form of recreation. P.276