Shame regulation in personality pathology

Michelle Schoenleber, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on extant work on shame and emotion regulation, this article proposes that three broad forms of maladaptive shame regulation strategies are fundamental in much of personality pathology: Prevention (e.g., dependence, fantasy), used preemptively, lessens potential for shame; Escape (e.g., social withdrawal, misdirection) reduces current or imminent shame; Aggression, used after shame begins, refocuses shame into anger directed at the self (e.g., physical self-harm) or others (e.g., verbal aggression). This article focuses on the contributions of shame regulation to the development and maintenance of personality pathology, highlighting how various maladaptive shame regulation strategies may lead to personality pathology symptoms, associated features, and dimensions. Consideration is also given to the possible shame-related constructs necessitating emotion regulation (e.g., shame aversion and proneness) and the points in the emotion process when regulation can occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-446
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


  • Emotion regulation
  • Personality disorders
  • Personality pathology
  • Shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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