International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 14 Num. 2 - June 2014


Shamed by a parent or by others: The role of attachment in shame memories relation to depression

Volume 14 Num. 2 - June 2014 - Pages 217-244


Marcela Matos , Jos? Pinto-Gouveia


Recent research has shown that shame traumatic and central memories not only have an impact on feelings of shame in adulthood but also moderate the impact of shame on depression. Although the quality of attachment relationships may be important in structuring shame memories, the research on this topic has been scant. This paper explores the moderator effect of shame memories involving attachment figures vs. shame memories involving other people on the relationship between shame and depression. 230 participants from the general community population completed the Shame Experiences Interview, assessing shame experiences from childhood and adolescence, and a battery of self-report scales measuring: shame traumatic memory, centrality of shame memory, external shame, internal shame and depression. Results revealed that shame memories with attachment figures showed higher correlations with internal shame and depressive symptoms whereas shame memories involving others presented higher correlations with external shame. Moderator analyses showed that only shame traumatic memory and centrality of shame memory involving attachment figures moderated the impact of external and internal shame on depression. The current findings shed light on the importance of the quality of attachment relationships in the structuring of shame traumatic memories and on their impact on psychopathological symptoms, adding to recent neuroscience research and Gilbert?s approach on shame and compassion. Our results emphasize the relevance of addressing shame memories, mainly those that involve attachment figures, particularly when working with patients suffering from depressive symptoms and/or that find compassion difficult or scary.

Key words:

shame, traumatic memory, autobiographical memory, attachment, depression, moderator effect

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