Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shame and pride - edit #2 (Part 4)

I saw an interesting comment in a book I was reading the other day. It stated that the opposite to shame is pride.

As I endeavour to gain a fuller understanding of shame, what it is and what it means it seems salient to understand the opposite of it. If I can understand the opposite of shame then I should be able to understand shame in a more complete way.

Snake lady

Evan says "My guess is that the opposite of shame is actually honour. This has the ability to take in the sense of relating to the community which I think is essential to a definition of shame." (end quote)

I think you make a good point Evan. Since writing this post I have though some more about shame and pride and I tend to agree with you that shame and pride may not be so opposite after all. Your idea of honour is an interesting one.

When you look at emotions overall maybe shame is quite unique in this way, of having an opposite. For example what is the opposite of anger. One could say maybe calm or happy or relaxed. But one could say the same about sad and anxious as well. So they are not opposites like pride or honour are.

As I was reading the book, which I can’t even remember what it was now, it was just one of those sentences that you seem to notice and sticks in the mind. Feelings having opposites.

Here are some defintions of pride:

the state or feeling of being proud.

a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself

the best of a group, class, society

the most flourishing state or period

splendor, magnificence, or pomp.

ornament or adornment.

pride and joy, someone or something cherished, valued, or enjoyed above all others

Dog frizbee

Now all I have to do is work out what is the opposite of these.



  1. My guess is that the oppostie of shame is actually honour. This has the ability to take in the sense of relating to the community which I think is essential to a definition of shame.

  2. Oh yes! Because opposites attract!

  3. Evan’s comment is interesting. If a person gets no feedback from other people (i.e. community), can shame happen? For example, if I’m a hermit living away from civilization and I build a really sloppy little hut to live in because I’m too lazy to build a nice one, will I feel shame for not putting out more effort? If I think nobody will ever see the hut except for me, I don’t think I would feel shame for being lazy (but maybe a little disappointed if the roof leaks). If somebody showed up to visit and asked if I built the hut myself, THEN I’d feel shame for giving this person cause to think I’m incapable of building a decent hut, or I’d lie and deny building it (which would likely result in shame anyway).

  4. Hello KYLady,

    You have made a comment about what I am putting together right now on my next little piece on shame. So my response will be soon in my next post on this topic. There must be some psychic communication going on here!


  5. There is a very good book called Mother-Infant Attachment and Psychoanalysis
    The Eyes of Shame By Mary Y. Ayers.

  6. Thanks for that UnmotheredChild.

    You seem to have an interesting blog