Cover image for Shame : free yourself, find joy, and build true self-esteem / Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.
Shame : free yourself, find joy, and build true self-esteem / Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.
First Edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2018]
Physical Description:
xviii, 299 pages ; 25 cm.
The shame spectrum -- The shame family of emotions -- The inevitability of shame -- Unloved and left out -- Exposed and disappointed -- Joy and the birth of self-esteem -- Shame and the growth of self-esteem -- The masks of shame -- Avoiding shame -- Social anxiety (Lizzie) -- Indifference (Dean) -- Promiscuity and addiction (Noah) -- Avoiding shame in everyday life -- Denying shame -- The idealized false self (Anna) -- Superiority and contempt (Caleb) -- Blame and indignation (Nicole) -- Denying shame in everyday life -- Controlling shame -- Self-mockery (Nora) -- Self-hatred (Ryan) -- Masochism (James) -- Controlling shame in everyday life -- From shame to self-esteem -- Shame defiance and narrow identity -- Shame resilience and expanding identity -- Building pride -- Sharing joy -- Appendix 1: Pre-test scoring and discussion -- Appendix 2: Exercises -- Acknowledgments -- Notes -- Bibliography.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
152.44 BUR Book Adult General Collection

On Order



An intimate look at the full spectrum of shame--often masked by addiction, promiscuity, perfectionism, self-loathing, or narcissism--that offers a new, positive route forward

Encounters with embarrassment, guilt, self-consciousness, remorse, etc. are an unavoidable part of everyday life, and they sometimes have lessons to teach us--about our goals and values, about the person we expect ourselves to be. In contrast to the prevailing cultural view of shame as a uniformly toxic influence, Shame is a book that approaches the subject of shame as an entire family of emotions which share a "painful awareness of self."

Challenging widely-accepted views within the self-esteem movement, author Joseph Burgo argues that self-esteem does NOT thrive in the soil of non-stop praise and encouragement, but rather depends upon setting and meeting goals, living up to the expectations we hold for ourselves, and finally sharing our joy in achievement with the people who matter most to us. Along the way, listening to and learning from our encounters with shame will go further than affirmations and positive self-talk in helping us to build authentic self-esteem.

Richly illustrated with clinical stories from Burgo's 35 years in private practice, Shame also describes the myriad ways that unacknowledged shame often hides behind a broad spectrum of mental disorders including social anxiety, narcissism, addiction, and masochism.

Author Notes

JOSEPH BURGO, PH.D. has been practicing psychotherapy for more than 35 years. His articles and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and other major publications. He also writes a blog on the topic of shame for Psychology Today and covers personal development issues from a psychodynamic perspective on his personal website, After Psychotherapy. He is the author of Why Do I Do That? and The Narcissist You Know.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

While shame is at least a small part of everyone's life, it can be a source of empowerment for change, writes psychotherapist Burgo in this approachable book. Instead of minimizing feelings of shame and self-hatred, he argues, readers should embrace these emotions. Burgo believes that people can be liberated by finding joy in sharing painful stories with others, setting realistic expectations for personal goals, and acknowledging the aspects of shame that may never change. He considers case studies from his 35 years of practice and builds a composite profile of personality types he's seen (such as narcissists, addicts, shut-ins, and pleasers), and shares some of his own struggles dealing with shame. Relying on and heavily referencing the work of Andrew Solomon and BrenAc Brown, he also uses different metaphors and charts in order to help readers see the various ways shame may be working in their lives and learn how it can be used to create pride instead of pain. Exercises at the end of the book will also help readers build self-awareness and avoid perfectionism (with an emphasis on setting and meeting goals and taking pride in one's accomplishments). Using insight from his own career and other current work in psychotherapy , Burgo dispels the myth that shame has to be toxic. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Shame Awareness Surveyp. xvii
Part I The Shame Spectrum
1 The Shame Family of Emotionsp. 3
2 The Value of Shamep. 14
3 Unloved and Left Outp. 23
4 Exposed and Disappointedp. 31
5 Joy and the Birth of Self-Esteemp. 40
6 Shame and the Growth of Self-Esteemp. 53
Part II The Masks of Shame
Avoiding Shame
7 Social Anxietyp. 69
8 Indifferencep. 82
9 Promiscuity and Addictionp. 96
10 Avoiding Shame in Everyday Lifep. 109
Denying Shame
11 The Idealized False Selfp. 123
12 Superiority and Contemptp. 135
13 Blame and Indignationp. 145
14 Denying Shame in Everyday Lifep. 155
Controlling Shame
15 Self-Mockeryp. 169
16 Self-Hatredp. 180
17 Masochismp. 191
18 Controlling Shame in Everyday Lifep. 202
Part III From Shame to Self-Esteem
19 Shame Defiance and Narrow Identityp. 213
20 Shame Resilience and Expanding Identityp. 225
21 Building Pridep. 236
22 Sharing Joyp. 246
Appendix 1 Survey Scoring and Discussionp. 257
Appendix 2 The Exercisesp. 261
Acknowledgmentsp. 287
Notesp. 293
Bibliographyp. 297