Personality, shame, and the breakdown of social bonds: The voice of quantitative depression research

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SCHEFF'S argument (2001), whereby shame and the breakdown of social ties are causality implicated in depression, has potential to inform quantitative research on depression, particularly research focused on determinants of personality vulnerability. In the present article, I relate Scheff's argument to more than two and a half decades of theory and research on the interpersonal nature of depression, and on personality vulnerability to depression. The focus of this review is on the personality theories of Blatt (1974) and Beck (1983), in which an introjective/self-critical/autonomous personality dimension and an anaclitic/dependent/sociotropic personality dimension are each conceptualized as a marker of vulnerability. Reviewing empirical research on these two dimensions, I then point out a certain puzzle emerging from previous findings: The introjective personality dimension appears to confer considerably more vulnerability than the anaclitic personality dimension. An attempt is made to reconcile this puzzle by drawing from Scheff's discussion of shame, as well as from psychosocial research on internal representations of self and others (Blatt, Auerbach, and Levy 1997), and from sociological work on the depressogenic conditions of modernity (Giddens 1991; Seligman 1990).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-239
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 21 Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


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