Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex and the Birth of Self

Author(s): Donald L. Nathanson

Personal Development

This is a revolutionary book about the nature of emotion, about the way emotions are triggered in our private moments, in our relations with others, and by our biology. Drawing on every theme of the modern life sciences, Dr. Nathanson shows how the nine basic affects--interest-excitement, enjoyment-joy, surprise-startle, fear-terror, distress-anguish, anger-rage, dissmell, disgust, and shame-humiliation--not only determine how we feel but shape our very sense of self. For too long there has been a battle between those who explain emotional discomfort on the basis of lived experience and those who blame chemistry. As Dr. Nathanson shows, chemicals and illnesses can affect our mood just as surely as an uncomfortable memory or a stern rebuke. He presents a completely new understanding of all emotion, providing the first link between the exciting affect theory of Silvan Tomkins and the entire world of biology, medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, religion, and the social sciences. Shame is the least understood of the painful emotions, although it affects every phase of life. We have all been made to feel foolish just at the moment we most wanted to appear wonderful; we have all been rebuffed by those we wished to court. Not one of us looks exactly as we might wish. Shame haunts our every dream of love, and influences how we experience ourselves as sexual beings. We react to shame by withdrawing, by making painful alliances with those who humiliate us, by calling attention to what brings us pride, or by attacking whoever has made us feel inferior. The comedian, as Nathanson shows in his discussion of Buddy Hackett, makes us laugh at what we try to keep hidden, transforming shame intoacceptance and even pride. This book explains everything that can possibly make us proud or ashamed. All are in this book; nobody who reads it will be quite the same again.


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Shame and Pride is an impressive achievement. Nathanson establishes a solid and systematic foundation for the modern study of affect, much as Erik Erikson accomplished for identity and ongoing development throughout the life cycle. A rich and rewarding experience. -- Richard P. Kluft, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine

Donald L. Nathanson, M.D., is the founder and Executive Director of the Silvan S. Tomkins Institute. He is currently Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Jefferson Medical College.

General Fields

  • : 9780393311099
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : April 1994
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Donald L. Nathanson
  • : Paperback
  • : New edition
  • : 152.4
  • : 496
  • : Ill.