International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 15 Num. 1 - March 2015


Shame Memories and Depression Symptoms: The Role of Cognitive Fusion and Experiential Avoidance

Volume 15 Num. 1 - March 2015 - Pages 63-86


Alexandra Dinis , Sérgio Andrade Carvalho , José Pinto Gouveia , Cátia Estanqueiro


Previous studies have suggested that shame memories can have a pervasive impact on depression symptoms, and avoidant-focused processes may play a mediating role. In addition, it is stated in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) literature that experiential avoidance is a consequence of cognitive fusion. This study aims to explore the role of cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance in the relationship between shame memories (with caregivers and traumatic shame memories with others) and depression symptoms. In order to do that, we used Structural Equation Modeling to conduct a path analysis in a sample of 181 subjects of the general population. Our results add new information on the processes through which shame memories impacts on both experiential avoidance and depression symptoms. It is suggested that shame memories are not itself pervasive, but the entanglement with painful internal experiences (cognitive fusion) and/or the attempts to control them (experiential avoidance). This suggests the importance of planning an intervention that targets these processes when dealing with shame memories, particularly in patients with depression symptoms.

Key words:

shame, cognitive fusion, avoidance, depressi

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