A psychoanalytic feminist inquiry into shame
This thesis offers an inquiry into shame; in particular a reading of some women's lived experience of shame from a psychoanalytic and feminist perspective. This work also reflects critically on epistemological issues and tensions between the adoption of qualitative methods of research and psychoanalytic, feminist and post-structuralist readings of texts. The thesis starts with an outline of its contents, a reflexive history of the research, and a brief introduction on shame. Chapters one to three review the main body of literature on shame, critically reflecting on how shame is constructed within different theoretical frameworks. This investigation begins with the work of Sigmund Freud and the different constructions of shame in Freudian metapsychology (chapter one) and continues with a review of the literature on the role of shame in social and interpsychic dynamics (chapter two). Chapter three focuses on the literature arguing for a crucial link between shame and femininity. Epistemological and methodological issues are discussed in chapters four; while chapter five provides a detailed description of how the research was carried out and of the analysis of the text. Chapters six to ten are based on in-depth semi-structured interviews on women's experience of shame. The discursive analysis investigates the ideological function of the shameful subject position within the context of the themes identified in the thematic decomposition of the interviews. The conclusion summaries and reflects on the thesis as a whole; it also comments on some implications of the different readings of shame proposed in the thesis.