“IS THERE SUCH A THING AS HAPPY SHAME?” HE ASKED1

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Abstract

A man experienced shame for the first time during the termination phase of a 6-year analysis. He asked: “Is there such a thing as happy shame?” The experience followed the transformation of a negative maternal transference into an affectionate one. However, in a moment of rage, he insulted the analyst and felt greatly ashamed. Yet, it was a “happy shame.” This shame signaled the ability to tolerate painful oedipal failure and to integrate newly acquired self-evaluations into his sense of self in the presence of the analyst as a transferentially respectful and attentive maternal object.

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