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Shame, Intimacy and Self-Definition: An Assessment of the Emotional Foundation and Intimate Relationship Consequences of an Introjective Personality Orientation

Dorahy, Martin J. PhD, DClinPsych*; Hanna, Donncha PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2012 - Volume 200 - Issue 8 - p 699–704
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318261427b
Original Articles

The current study sought to elaborate and test a theoretical proposition that introjective personality functioning, which has been implicated in various psychological difficulties (e.g., self-critical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder), has an emotional foundation in the self-conscious emotion of shame and is supported by dissociation. Moreover, introjective functioning was predicted to be associated with reduced interpersonal intimacy. To test the model, a Web-based survey design using path analysis was used. Three hundred and fifteen university students were assessed with measures of self-conscious emotions (i.e., shame, guilt, and embarrassment), introjective (self-definition) and anaclitic (relational) personality style, pathological dissociation, and interpersonal intimacy. Introjective personality was found to be associated with increased shame and reduced interpersonal intimacy. However, the path between pathological dissociation and introjective functioning was not significant. The results are discussed with reference to the moderating influence of introjective functioning between shame and reduced interpersonal intimacy.

*Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand; and †School of Psychology, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Send reprint requests to Martin J. Dorahy, PhD, DClinPsych, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.