Shame is everywhere - yet often hidden. It is what drives the need to seek psychotherapy - and a key factor that makes people fearful of psychotherapy. Shame emerges in the failures of human connection and empathy, reaching back to the earliest interactions of infant with mother. Later shame is woven around the aspects of ourselves that do not meet with acceptance, compassion and warmth. Our false selves develop as shells around the vulnerable core of shame. Later, as these shame-laden aspects of self make tentative ventures into the psychotherapeutic discourse, much crucially depends upon the therapist's sensitivity in responding to these. Some traditional features of the psychoanalytic consulting room culture may tend to reinforce shame - thus driving authentic aspects of self more deeply into hiding, and entrenching a false self structure of compliance or manic rebellion. A key subtheme of this presentation, influenced partly by Lacan, is that all human identities are 'false selves' - the authentic 'self' being unknown and always evolving.
Dr Phil Mollon is a psychoanalyst (British Psychoanalytic Society) and also a psychotherapist (Tavistock Society). In origin, he is clinical psychologist. Through his 35 years of clinical experience, he has explored many forms and aspects of psychotherapy, including those that engage the body as well as the psyche. He is the author of ten books, including “Shame and Jealousy” [Karnac 2002]. His most recent is “Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy” [Karnac 2008], exploring the interface between psychodynamics and the energy fields of the body. He works in the NHS and privately.