The effect of shame and shame memories on paranoid ideation and social anxiety.
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AbstractBackground Social wariness and anxiety can take different forms. Paranoid anxiety focuses on the malevolence of others, whereas social anxiety focuses on the inadequacies in the self in competing for social position and social acceptance. This study investigates whether shame and shame memories are differently associated with paranoid and social anxieties. Method Shame, traumatic impact of shame memory, centrality of shame memory, paranoia and social anxiety were assessed using self-report questionnaires in 328 participants recruited from the general population. Results Results from path analyses show that external shame is specifically associated with paranoid anxiety. In contrast, internal shame is specifically associated with social anxiety. In addition, shame memories, which function like traumatic memories, or that are a central reference point to the individual's self-identity and life story, are significantly associated with paranoid anxiety, even when current external and internal shame are considered at the same time. Thus, traumatic impact of shame memory and centrality of shame memory predict paranoia (but not social anxiety) even when considering for current feelings of shame. Conclusion Our study supports the evolutionary model suggesting there are two different types of ‘conspecific’ anxiety, with different evolutionary histories, functions and psychological processes. Paranoia, but less so social anxiety, is associated with traumatic impact and the centrality of shame memories. Researchers and clinicians should distinguish between types of shame memory, particularly those where the self might have felt vulnerable and subordinate and perceived others as threatening and hostile, holding malevolent intentions towards the self.
CitationMatos, M. et al (2012) 'The Effect of Shame and Shame Memories on Paranoid Ideation and Social Anxiety', Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 20 (4):334 .
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
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