The Shame of Death, Grief, and Trauma
Edited by Jeffrey Kauffman
Routledge – 2010 – 233 pages
Shame is a common and pervasive feature of the human response to death and other losses, yet this often goes unrecognized due to a reluctance to acknowledge and confront it. This book intends to expose shame for what it is, allowing clinicians to see that it is the central psychological force in the understanding of death and mourning. Kauffman and his fellow authors explore the psychology of shame via observation, reflection, theory, and practice in order to demonstrate the significant role it can play in our processing of grief, death, and trauma. The authors avoid defining a unified theory of shame in order to emphasize its multitude of meanings and the impact this has on grief and grief therapy. First-person narratives provide a personal look at death and associated feelings of guilt, shock, and grief; and other chapters consider shame in the context of cultural differences, recent events, and contemporary art, literature, and film. This is the first book to offer a comprehensive examination of this topic and, as such, will be a valuable resource for all clinicians who work with clients affected by grief and loss.
"Admirably edited for scope and clarity, Kauffman's volume links shame, grief and trauma, links of exceptional value for all clinicians." Benjamin Kilborne, PhD
"In this stimulating and enlightening volume, Jeffrey Kauffman and his team have courageously and insightfully navigated through our shame about our shame, effectively lifting back the psychological, social, and cultural veils that traditionally have shielded the topic from our thanatological eyes. With both philosophical profundity yet clinical pragmatism, the reader is guided in recognizing, understanding, and most importantly intervening in this often unacknowledged, but critically elemental, experience of the dying, the bereaved, and the traumatized. This volume is destined to stand out as a beacon, simultaneously illuminating the myriad features and impacts of shame while elucidating effective approaches to minimize or treat it. Those contending with loss and trauma will benefit enormously as a result." Therese A. Rando, PhD, BCETS, BCBT, Clinical Director, The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss, Warwick, RI
"The Shame of Death, Grief, and Trauma consists of 10 essays on a wide variety of topics. Much of its appeal lies in its interdisciplinary breadth. Kauffman has chosen his contributors wisely: a lively mix of psychologists, social workers, hospice counselors, English professors, and freelance writers….Kauffman succeeds admirably in his goal of casting light on shame, the darkest of emotions, and in the process he suggests how all of us, clinicians and educators alike, can lessen its stranglehold over so many people…. the volume is carefully edited and well organized. The Shame of Death, Grief, and Trauma may be disturbing to read, but it is always enlightened." - Jeffrey Berman, Death Studies
"Jeffrey Kauffman's edited volume is especially timely and offers a perspective on trauma, death, and grief that may not come forth via traditional resources. Although the book is written primarily for those in the field of grief counseling, many others will find it valuable, including the educated layperson, the practical clinician, and academics and scholars looking for a deeper understanding of the topic…Along with just remembering my experiences and emotions, the discussions in this book allowed me opportunities to reflect and examine these experiences in a different way. The Shame of Death, Grief, and Trauma was well worth the effort of not only reading but also of thoughtfully considering the discussions offered. I look forward now to healing conversations and hope others who read this book will experience this as well." - Mary Dugan, PsycCRITIQUES
Part I: Introductory Essay. Kauffman, On the Primacy of Shame. Part II: A Personal Narrative. Costa, Side by Side. Part III: Psychological Reflections on Shame and Grief. Shermer, Between Shame, Death, and Mourning: The Predispositional Role of Early Attachments and the Sense of Self. C. Figley, Albright, K. Figley, Combat, Combat Stress Injuries and Shame. Harris, Healing the Narcissistic Injury of Death in the Context of Western Society. Tyree, Shame: A Hospice Worker's Reflections. Part IV: Cultural Differences. Rosenblatt, Shame and Death in Cultural Context. Part V: Languages of Art. Clark, Mask of Shame, Mask of Death: Some Reflections on the Shame of Death. Underwood, Winters, Using the Representation of Grief and Shame in Contemporary Literature and Film to Train Mental Health Professionals. Part VI: Social Conscience and the Psychology of Shame. Roos, The Long Road to Relevance: Disability, Chronic Sorrow, and Shame.
Jeffrey Kauffman, MA , MSS, LCSW, FT, BCD, BCETS, CAS, has taught at Bryn Mawr College Graduate School School of Social Work and Social Research, The Center for Social Work Education of Widener University and the online thanatology program at King's University College, University of Western Ontario. He is the editor of Awareness of Mortality (1995) and Loss of the Assumptive World (2002), and author of Guidebook on Helping Persons with Mental Retardation Mourn (2004). He is a psychotherapist in private practice in suburban Philadelphia.