schore affect reg chapter 5


It’s not about just what happened and what the results are to me [the damage done], it’s about cause and effect.  I was reading in the Time magazine on the brain about mirror neurons, and autistic people have a severe shortage – were they born that way or is that a consequence of the fact that they could not and did not interact in infancy with other people in such a way that those mirror neurons would have been developed?

They are saying these neurons are directly tied to empathy.  I would say today that the intuitive sense I had a year ago that my condition is similar to autism would be because of the shortage of these mirror neurons in my brain, too.  Can they be replaced or built past infancy?


++ ergotrophic high arousal

++ trophotropic low arousal

This intense psychophysiological distress state, phenomenologically experienced as a “spiraling downward,” is proposed to reflect a sudden shift from energy-mobilizing sympathetic- to energy-conserving parasympathetic-dominant autonomic nervous system activity, a rapid transition from a hyperaroused to a hypoaroused state, a sudden switch from ergotrophic high arousal to trophotropic low arousal (Scherer, 1986).  In such a psychobiological state transition, sympathetically powered elation, heightened arousal, and elevated activity level instantly evaporate.  This represents a shift into a low-keyed inhibitory state of parasympathetic conservation-withdrawal (Powles, 1992) that occurs in helpless and hopeless stressful situations in which the individual becomes inhibited and strives to avoid attention in order to become “unseen.”  This state is mediated by a different psychobiological pattern than positive states – corticosteroids are produced in a stress response, and these reduce opioid (endorphin) and corticotropin releasing factor in the brain. Physiologically there is an influx of autonomic proprioceptive and kinesthetic feedback into awareness, reflecting activation of medullary reticular formation activity in the brain stem.  (Schore/ad/18)”

paragraph continues:

“As opposed to the attuned state, shame elicits a painful infant distress state, manifest in a sudden decrement in mounting pleasure, a rapid inhibition of excitement, and cardiac deceleration by means of vagal impulses in the medulla oblongataThis shift reflects the reduced activation of the excitatory dopaminergic ventral tegmental limbic forebrain-midbrain circuit and increased activation of the inhibitory noradrenergic lateral tegmental L(Robbins & Everitt, 1982) limbic forebrain-midbrain circuit.  (Schore/ad/18)”


“Shame represents this rapid state transition from a preexisting positive state to a negative state.  (Schore/ar/160)” bolding, underlining is mind


“state of dysynchrony, a break of attachment” (Schore/ar/164)”

an adaptation by the infant to the psychosocial stress can only be established with the mother’s cooperation at reunion (Schore/ar/164)”


psychotoxic” maternal care – schore/ar/176 quoting Spitz (1964)


Indeed, the preverbal infant communicates to her [the mother] the dysregulation of his/her ANS, because “the language of mother and infant consists of signals produced by the autonomic, involuntary nervous system in both parties” (Basch, 1976, p. 766), and the mother is the regulator of the infant’s developing ANS (Hofer, 1984b)  (Schore/ar/164)”


It is no doubt impossible to communicate to anyone else just how fundamentally alone a person is who never experienced this.  The pathways in my brain never developed that would allow me to “read” another person.  They remain as inscrutable to me as is a tree or a rock or a paper plate.  If they are very very clear [marked] in their expression I can perhaps “guess” what they are feeling and what they mean and what they intend and what the believe from outside clues, but I cannot resonate with them the way human beings are supposed to.  They can lie to me and I cannot tell the difference.

I do not know how the shame system can ever develop or operate correctly if a person lacks the ability to “read” other people.  They would never be able to accurately KNOW what another was thinking or feeling, so it is as possible for them to be off target as it is for them to be on target.  There is no security, safety, or trust with such a person – not internally within themselves or externally in regard to another person.

I think the trouble is of complicated origins.  I don’t think I can even perceive other people.  I do not have the perceptual capacities in my brain to identify, recognize, or assign value or meaning to their “output.”  Nor do I have the abilities to send out signals myself that are accurate representations of what I intend.  I suppose that is part of what a good therapy situation would entail – being able to slow things way down and to analyze every single tiny component of both the sending and of the perception and there fore the receiving of signals.

In some ways I think that would be the advantage of being able to play music.  I could focus my attention on how I was feeling on the inside, put it into the music, and then not have any responsibility for how others hear it, or how it makes them feel, or what they get out of it.  I would just put it out there.

I think, normally, that people put their signals out there with some facet of expectation that others will perceive and recognize them in a certain way.  It is not meant to be a “willy nilly” process.  I cannot even summon the intentional part of it.  That would entail some sense of mastery, competence, and ability to have a reasonable idea that one can manipulate or control how someone else perceives what we have put out there.

But if I can get to the point that I can play music with somebody else, I think I could experience the sense and state of “being with” someone else.  I think I could lose for that brief moment of time the sense of being so fundamentally isolated and alone.

It would be sort of like being able to take “being” to a different level.  I have had the experience with Ernie of feeling “with him,” of sharing “being” with him.  Yet lately I cannot feel it.  I can’t tell if the sense is an accurate perception of the way things really are, or if I am being paranoid.  He is inscrutable to me most of the time now, the way all other people are, and he didn’t use to be – because HE made the openings for me to be with him.  But if he needs to remain totally shut off from me – then what?  Yet I need to pay him rent.  I have a suspicion that is holding him back from being “himself” around me because he is dealing with trusting my word issues – I need to get that money tomorrow.

My fear is that Ernie is really my angel in this lifetime.  A human being that I could really feel at peace with, serene with – and WITH is the key word.  But the fear is that he cannot possible understand or value this like I need him to, and that he will withdraw.  That his “affection and attention” toward me is completely conditional.  And that he does not NEED me the way I need him, so he does not have the investment that I do.

I am beginning to understand that the reason that I feel so all alone is because I AM alone, and not in any normal way that others could begin to understand.  And with the aloneness is a feeling of sadness, and if I followed the feeling inwards, I believe that I would find at the end of the string nothing but hopeless despair.  I am cut off from my species.  I believe this is the circle that the Lakota medicine people could see around me in that ceremony almost 20 years ago – the circle that the spirit world refused to take away.  I think that it is a part of who I am, and if they had removed it, I would be destroyed.

“deactivation of the attachment system,”  (Schore/ar/161)”

That could really make an infant nuts, the deactivation – reactivation of the attachment system pattern! This is the first I’ve seen anyone refer to this deactivation of the attachment system – assuming that I had one going with my mother at any time – like maybe on picture-taking-in-public days?


“the ultimate indicator of attachment capacity is resilience in the face of stress.  (Schore/ar/171)”


“The functioning of the ego ideal is thus intimately tied into the ego mechanism of episodic memory, which stores events that have meaning for the concept of self and are significant for the maintenance of self-esteem (Tulving, 1972).  (Schore/ar/178)”


Affect tolerance, which allows for the conscious experience of emotions, was proposed by Krystal (1988) to be analogous to the capacity to bear pain. (Schore/ar/180)”


“The major purpose of this work is to present a developmental object relations model of the emergence of shame during Mahler’s practicing period of separation-individuation and to examine the critical functional role of shame in successive stages of socioemotional developement [sic].  The shame reg- (schore/ar/151) ulatory system that has its onset during the practicing phase will be shown to be instrumental to the effective resolution of the later rapproachement [sic] crisis, specifically in terms of the modulation of narcissistic rage and the developmental progression of psychological and gender identification processes.  Finally, the relevance of the model to the etiology of the fundamental pathology of narcissistic disorders and to the functional characterization of the ego ideal component of the superego as a mood regulator will be presented.  (schore/ar/152)”

“…various fields that are studying the problem of socioemotional development – psychoanalysis, infant research, developmental psychology, and neurobiology…. Multidisciplinary source pool of clinical observations, theoretical concepts, and experimental data from which to generate an overarching conceptual model that attempts to elucidate the common underlying functional mechanism of shame, “the primary social emotion” (Scheff, 1988).  (schore/ar/152)”


“Basch (1976) argued that the earliest forms of affective behavior are

++  general physiologic reactions such as response to stimulation (autonomic reactivity) mediated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS).  In ensuing developmental stages they provide the substrate for all emotional experience.

++  Krystal (1978) proposed that all later-developing affects evolve out of a neonatal state of contentment and a state of distress that differentiate into two developmental lines, an infantile nonverbal affect system and an adult verbalized desomatisized system.  He asserted “The development and maturation of affects is seen as the key event in infancy” (Krystal 1988, p. 211), and wrote of nodal points in affect development that allow for the maturation of particular affects.

++ Spitz (1965) concluded that significant organizational shifts occur regularly in development that are signaled by the emergence of new affective behaviors.  (schore/ar/152)”

++  According to Buechler and Izard “the age at which the infant is able to regulate expression may differ for each of the discrete emotions” (1983, p. 301) quoted in (schore/ar/152-152)

“…Pine (1980) emphasized that the earliest expressions of affect are automatic responses described as varying along a singular pleasure-unpleasure continuum, but later this is followed by an “expansion in the affect array.”  As development proceeds, “[S]ome affects represent alterations, transformations, specifications of earlier affect states, whereas others are first born at later stages in the developmental process when the psychological conditions for their emergence are met.  These psychological conditions involve new learnings, new acquisitions of mental life, that have consequences for affective experiences” (Pine, 1980, p. 232).  (schore/ar/153)”

++  “…shame has an earlier developmental origin that guilt.  (schore/ar/153)”  he says that this is one of the “later-appearing superego affects”

“Miller (1989)differentiated early-appearing affects on a developmental line with shame from later-emerging affect developmental line that culminates in guilt.  (schore/ar/153)”

“Lewis (1980) argued that shame is a more regressed and primitive mode of superego functioning than guilt….  (schore/ar/153)”

“…developmental infant research…pinpoints the specific period of the onset of the shame response….Tomkins (1963) found no facial expressions expressive of shame in earliest infancy and characterized “shame-humiliation” as an auxiliary affect which appears later….(schore/ar/153)”

Self-consciousness, a behavior reflecting embarrassment (a component of shame), was earliest observed at 12 months by Dixon (1957).  (schore/ar/153)”

“In the most extensive research on this topic, Amsterdam (1972; Amsterdam & Leavitt, 1980) noted that embarrassment and affective self-consciousness first appear at 14 months, coinciding with the acquisition of upright, free locomotion. (schore/ar/153)”

“These responses are completely absent before 12 months.  (schore/ar/153)”

“In a more recent series of developmental studies, M. Lewis (1982) first observed the self-conscious emotion of shame in the period of 12 to 18 months.  (schore/ar/153)”

“Plutchik, citing the work of Piaget, concluded in stage 5 (12 – 18 months) with the development of the cognitive ability to represent the self and external causation, affects such as shame, defiance, and negativism appear” (1983, p. 243).  (schore/ar/153)”

“There is thus consistent evidence or the onset of shame in the junior toddler; that is, Mahler’s practicing subphase of the separation-individuation stage of development (10 –12 to 16 – 18 months).  (schore/ar/153)”

“It should be kept in mind that the effective vocabulary of the average 12-month-old is 3 words; at 15 months, it is 19 words (Mussen, Conger, & Kagan, 1969).  (schore/ar/154)”

“Kaufman noted shame, “a total experience that forbids communication with words: (1974, p. 565), arises prior to language development and is therefore preverbal.  (schore/ar/154)”

“Izard (1978) and Sroufe (1979) also found guilt appearing at 36 months.  Importantly, notice that the shame system emerges in the preverbal toddler, guilt in the neoverbal child.  Their separate origins is one factor indicating that these two superego affect systems are dissociable and independent.  (schore/ar/154)”



rework of above and some from below:

++  earliest forms of affective behavior are

++ general physiologic reactions such as response to stimulation (autonomic reactivity)

++ mediated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

++ In ensuing developmental stages they provide the substrate for all emotional experience.

++ has role as socializing agent if experienced & regulated as opposed to bypassed & unregulated (Schore/ar/171)

++  all later-developing affects evolve out of a neonatal state of contentment and a state of distress

++ that differentiate into two developmental lines,

++ an infantile nonverbal affect system and

++ an adult verbalized desomatisized system.

++ nodal points in affect development allow for the maturation of particular affects.

++ significant organizational shifts occur regularly in development that are signaled by the emergence of new affective behaviors.  (schore/ar/152)”

++  the age at which the infant is able to regulate expression may differ for each of the discrete emotions

++ the earliest expressions of affect are automatic response

++ which vary along a singular pleasure-unpleasure continuum

++ later this is followed by an “expansion in the affect array.”

++ as development proceeds, some affects represent alterations, transformations, specifications of earlier affect states

++ others are first born at later stages in the developmental process when the psychological conditions for their emergence are met.

++ these psychological conditions involve new learnings, new acquisitions of mental life, that have consequences for affective experiences

++  Origin of shame versus guilt

++ early-appearing affects on a developmental line with shame are differentiated from later-emerging affect developmental line that culminates in guilt.

++ their separate origins is one factor indicating that these two superego affect systems are dissociable and independent

++ shame

++ is an attachment emotion

++ has an earlier developmental origin that guilt

++ is a more regressed and primitive mode of superego functioning than guilt….

++ is one of the later-appearing “superego affects”

++ “…developmental infant research…pinpoints the specific period of the onset of the shame response

++ no facial expressions expressive of shame in earliest infancy

++ “shame-humiliation” is an auxiliary affect which appears later

++ the shame system emerges in the preverbal toddler

++ onset of shame in the junior toddler; that is, Mahler’s practicing subphase of the separation-individuation stage of development (10 –12 to 16 – 18 months).

++ coinciding with the acquisition of upright, free locomotion

++ these responses are completely absent before 12 months

++ shame is a total experience that forbids communication with words

++ arises prior to language development and is therefore preverbal

++ the effective vocabulary of the average 12-month-old is 3 words; at 15 months, it is 19 words

++ “Self-consciousness, a behavior reflecting embarrassment (a component of shame), was earliest observed at 12 months

++ embarrassment and affective self-consciousness first appear at 14 months

++ the self-conscious emotion of shame in the period of 12 to 18 months

++ in stage 5 (12 – 18 months) the development of the cognitive ability to represent the self and external causation, affects such as

shame, defiance, and negativism appear

++ the “attachment emotion” of shame is an “implosion” or transient destruction of the self

++ guilt

++ guilt appears at 36 months

++ neoverbal child

++ self is intact in guilt




“…shame…this unique affect, which perhaps more than any other emotion is so intimately tied to the physiological expression of a stress response.  This hyperactive physiological state (Darwin, 1873.1965) is associated with ANS reactions like sweating, greater body awareness, intensification of perceptual functions, uncoordinated motor activity, cognitive impairment, gaze aversion, thus implying “the more primitive, biologically based nature of shame” (Broucek, 1982, p. 375).  The deep physiological substrate of shame is perhaps best reflected in blushing (Wurmser, 1981), which represents the end result of a preceeding intense “affective spell”; that is, the end product of the physiological discharge of shame (Miller, 1965).  MacCurdy (1930) proposed that the shock-like onset of blushing reflects a shift of balance from sympathetic to parasympathetic components of the ANS, the system that determines the physiological expression of all emotions.  Supporting this, Knapp (1967) explained that activity of the parasympathetic branch of the ANS accounts for blushing.  Thus the activity of the ANS, which is an effector channel of the emotion-mediating limbic system, is the basis of the acute phenomenology of shame.  In a heightened state of affect, one is overwhelmed by intense internal physiological sensations over which there is no conscious control; notice the similarity of this to a classic acute “stress state” (Seyle, 1956).  Indeed, in social-psychological experiments, shame, specifically used as a psychosocial stressor (Buck, Parke, & Buck, 1970), induced a psychophysiologic stress reaction.  (schore/ar/154)”

“…requisite preexisting state of hyperarousal for shame induction”  (schore/ar/154)”

“function of shape as an arousal blocker”

“a regulator of hyperstimulated states”

“(elated, excited, grandiose, manic, euphoric)”  (schore/ar/154)”

“affect auxillary” [sic]

“specific inhibitor of the activated, ongoing affects of interest-excitement and enjoyment-joy”  (schore/ar/154)”

“shame reduces self-exposure or self-exploration powered by (schore/ar/154) these positive affects.  (schore/ar/155)”

“Shame signals the self-system to terminate interest in whatever has come to its attention.”  (schore/ar/155)” referring to Nathanson, 1987

“changes the affective valence and diminishes the arousal level of the organism, thereby blocking the further escalation and intensification of stimulation.  (schore/ar/155)”

“The end result is a painfully stimulated state of shame.  (schore/ar/155)”

“Kohut (1971) presented a similar model:  At a moment of exhibitionism of the self, the sudden unexpected impact of shame is to ground the person who is overstimulated by omnipotent, grandiose affective states.  (schore/ar/155)”

“A model of shame is proposed here in which the neo-individuating self, in a hyperstimulated, elated, grandiose, narcissistically charged state of heightened arousal, exhibits itself during a reunion with the caregiver.  Despite an excited anticipation of a shared affect state, the self unexpectedly experiences an affective misattunement, thereby triggering a sudden stress, shock-induced deflation.  It is proposed that this first occurs in the preverbal practicing subphase of separation-individuation period, and that this specific object relation and its internalization is the prototype of the shame experience.  (schore/ar/155)”



“The onset of the practicing period [(10 –12 to 16 – 18 months)] is usually marked by rapid changes in motor behavior (i.e. of upright posture and locomotion supporting the child’s first independent steps), but it is its affective characteristics that are unique and definitional.  (Schore/ar/155)”

“Bowlby (1969) pointed out important affective changes occur when locomotion emerges….mobile infants show different types of emotional reactions than prelocomotor infants….(Schore/ar/155)”

“stage specific omnipotent  exhilaration and elation of this period (high arousal affects)….at this time more than any other in development, “narcissism is at its peak” [Mahler, 1975, p. 71]….Mahler described the practicing junior toddler as “intoxicated with his own faculties and with the greatness of his world….He is exhilarated by his own capacities” (1980, p. 7)…. Johnson affirmed, “The practicing period offers a release into manic excitement and involvement in a world far more reinforcing than that of the unreliable nurturance offered earlier (1987, p. 26).  (Schore/ar/155)”

Around age 12 months – 10 – 13 ½ months:  increase in positive emotion and decrease of negative emotion, “frequent mood of elation”  (Schore/ar/155)”

“During the practicing period, the child “has reached the highest point in the development of his primary narcissism and in the over-estimation of his powers.  His ideal ego is at its full” [Parkin] (1985, p. 146)  (Schore/ar/156)”

“…it is at this time when shame, self-consciousness, and embarrassment first appear and that the toddler first becomes aware of himself/herself as an object for observation and evaluation by another.  (Schore/ar/156)”

“In addition to the developmental affective changes at practicing onset, major maturational [and cognitive] behavioral…reorganizations are known to occur at 12 months. (Schore/ar/156)”

“Piaget’s fifth stage of sensorimotor intelligence, a time of the first appearance of tertiary circular reactions that enable the toddler to actively and spontaneously explore for newness in the environment (curiosity onset?).  By 1 year of age, stimulation-seeking exploratory play time may amount to as much as 6 hours of the child’s day…..elated affect (excitement and joy)…..”pleasure in function” associated with the elation of the period.  (Schore/ar/156)”

“Indeed, it could be speculated that White’s concepts of competence and effectance have their roots in the practicing phase.  He defined effectance as the infant’s sense of what can and cannot be accomplished; it is an emotional mood that characterizes the infant’s mastery experiences.  Interestingly, White (1960) asserted that shame is always associated with incompetence.  Along the same lines, Broucek (1982) suggested that inefficacy experiences may be the earliest releasers of shame.  (Schore/ar/156)”


“Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a). (Schore/ar/156)”

“Fogel (1982) referred to a major developmental task of the first year as the evolution of increasing affective tolerance for high arousal.  This occurs in at- (Schore/ar/156) tachment transactions in which the psychobiologically attuned (Field, 1985a) caregiver amplifies the infant’s highly stimulated state of excitement and joy, one that fuels his/her grandiosity.  (Schore/ar/157)”

++ “It is proposed that shame modulates high-arousal affective states; these states first appear during the practicing period (a developmental period of hyperarousal, and the onset of shame at this time acts as a regulator of hyperstimulated states.  “Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a). (Schore/ar/156)”

++ “…hyperaroused narcissistic states developmentally occur at this critical period only if the infant-caregiver dyad has successfully negotiated the preceding states, allowing the child to tolerate much higher arousal states than earlier.  Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease [the child becomes more stimulated more easily?] and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a). (Schore/ar/156)”

“The ability to experience the practicing high arousal states of elation and interest-excitement depends upon precedent successful experiences of merger with the omnipotent mother.  If this does not occur earlier in the symbiotic phase there will be a drastic reduction in primary narcissism.  “Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a). (Schore/ar/157)”

“…Parking (1985) asserted that certain forms of inadequate mothering in the third quarter of the first year of life inhibit identification of the child with the fantasied omnipotence of the other and lead to a hypo-cathected, dormant, and impoverished ideal ego.  “Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a). (Schore/ar/157)”

“…the hedonic tone of elation,…high levels of elation, ….and elevated activity level (boundless energy…) [of the practicing period] are all associated with heightened activation of the sympathetic component of the ANS.  ….young mammals typically pass through a hyperactive period of mid-infancy in which they display a state of organismic hyperarousal and increased energy metabolism…., especially when apart from the mother, reflecting unmodulated excitatory activity of early maturing, reticular formation brain stem systems responsive for arousal….“Under optimal conditions, thresholds of stimulation decrease and the ability to tolerate higher levels of stimulation increases during infancy.  (Field, 1985a).  (Schore/ar/157)”

“In late infancy this activity is decreased due to the later onset of forebrain inhibitory systems.  The high level of behavioral arousal that reflects unchecked subcortical reticular excitability is proposed to be identical to the excitement component of Tomkins’s “interest-excitement,” and to underlie Kohut’s (1971) “age-appropriate exhibitionism.”  (Schore/ar/157)”


“Sympathetic and parasympathetic components are known to have different timetables of development, resulting in unique physiological organizations at different states of postnatal life…..high levels of energy-expending sympathetic activity and high resting heart rates in mid-infancy, followed by a reduction in late infancy due to the neural maturation of energy-conserving parasympathetic (vagal) restraint.  (Schore/ar/157)”

“Parasympathetic inhibitory function, associated with heart rate deceleration, is expressed by two distinct brain stem systems.  A primitive dorsal motor vagal system responsible for metabolic shut-down and immobilization ontogenetically precedes a later maturing more flexible nucleus ambiguous vagal system (Schwaber, Wray, & Higgins, 1979; Geis & Wurster, 1980; Daly, 1991)…..reflecting the sequential caudal to rostral development of the brain….(Schore/ar/157)”

“…essential subcortical limbic system substrates involved in emotional and cognitive behavior postnatally mature earlier than corresponding systems in the cerebral cortex (Meyersburg & Post, 1979).  (Schore/ar/158)”

It could be postulated that the affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects unique to the practicing period reflect a biologically timed period of sympathetic dominant limbic hyperarousal and behavioral overexcitation, and that the shame system that emerges in this period represents an evolving cortical inhibitory control mechanism of excessive, hyperstimulated states.  (Schore/ar/158)”


“It is this moment of reunion of the ‘returning,” highly aroused, elated, practicing toddler, in a state of excited expectation, reconnecting with the mother, that is the prototypical object relation in the emergence of shame.  The “attachment emotion” of shame (Lewis, 1980) occurs at the point of reattachment….. separation does not activate shame (Izard, Hembree, & Huebner, 1987)…… “emotional refueling,” which is conceptualized as an exchange of energy between the partners in the caregiver-infant dyad.  “Reunion between baby and mother serves to regulate either high or low lovels [sic] of arousal, to a more organized affective and attentional state”  (Brent & Resch, 1987, p. 16).  It is during these moments of caregiver-infant interaction that the (Schore/ar/158) mother acts to maintain the child’s arousal within a moderate range that is high enough to foster interactions, yet not so intense as to cause distress and avoidance (Brazelton, Koslowski, & Main, 1974; Stern, 1977).  (Schore/ar/159)”

“Reunion microinteractions are therefore critical moments of early object relations involving emotional reconnection after separations, specifically reentering into patterned affective transactions with the object.  This moment of initial interface in a dyadic affectively communicating system has been show to be critical to the infant’s modulation of arousal, affect, and attention.  Optimal reunion experiences, lasting only 30 seconds to 3 minutes, have been shown not only to “enable the infant to differentiate internal needs but … allow for increasingly active regulation of both separation and individuation of the self” (Brent & Resch, 1987, p. 25).  Practicing reunions represent affectively significant “central moments” of the growing child’s daily experience that are associated with high intensity object relations (Pine, 1985).  (Schore/ar/159)”

Germinative memories and percepts are organized around these moments of highly narcissistically charged affect transactions common in this developmental period.  Stern noted that “important experiences (and their memory and representation) are affect state-dependent … the affect state acts as the cardinal organizing element” (1985, p. 245).  Importantly, early reunion transactions act as a developmental matrix for the evolution of affects and affect tolerance:  “In the further course of development, repeated experiences of separation and reunion are remembered and anticipated, providing the structural basis for progressively more varied and modulated affective responses, whether basically painful or basically pleasurable” (Pao, 1971, p. 788).  (Schore/ar/159)”

“But these reunion episodes can also be moments engendering arousal dysregulation and psychosocial stress…..  The neo-toddler’s first ambulatory, exploratory forays away from the mother and into the world represent critical initial attempts to separate himself/herself from his/her mother (Rheingold & Eckerman, 1970) and define the onset of the separation individuation period.  The ambulatory infant, now able to physically separate himself/herself from the mother for longer periods of time, is able to explore realms of the physical and social environment that are beyond her watchful eye.  However, upon return from these forays, the nature of their face-to-face reunions is altered in that they now more than any time previously can engender intense interactive stress.  (Schore/ar/159)”

“More specifically, the grandiose practicing toddler, highly aroused by what he/she (but not necessarily the caregiver) appraises to be a mastery experience, returns to the mother after a brief separation.  The nascent self, in a state of accelerating positive arousal, exhibits itself in a reunion transaction.    Despite an excited expectation [how could I have EVER had this?] of a psychobiologically attuned shared positive affect state with the mother and a dyadic amplification of the positive affects of excitement and joy, the infant unexpectedly encounters a facially expressed affective misat- (Schore/ar/159) tunement.  The ensuring break in an anticipated visual-affective communication [isn’t this something to do with one’s own INTERNAL state not matching someone else’s INTERNAL state – which to us is external to us?] triggers a sudden shock-induced deflation of positive affect, and the infant is thus propelled into a state that he/she cannot yet autoregulate[No doubt, this happened to me all of the time – and always had from the beginning!] Shame represents this rapid state transition from a preexisting positive state to a negative state.  (Schore/ar/160)”

“Translating this into self-psychology terms, the returning toddler, eagerly looking forward to the maternal smile of recognition and the expected satisfaction of “the need of the budding self for the joyful response of the mirroring selfobject” [which I had never had in the first place and thus was lacking – severely] (mutually attuned elation; Kohut, 1977, p. 788) is suddenly and unpreparedly confronted with the “unexpected noncooperation of the mirroring object” (Kohut, 1972, p. 655).  This is specifically communicated visually not only in the “absence of the smile of contact” (Basch, 1976, p. 765), but in the presence of the mother’s “strange face,” a physical expression denoting her negative emotional state.  Basch stated, “The shame-humiliation response … represents the failure or absence of the smile of contact, a reaction to the loss of feedback from others” (p. 765).  (Schore/ar/160)”

“Broucek (1982) noted that shame arises

in the infant’s contacts with mother at those moments when mother becomes a stranger to her infant.  This happens when the infant is disappointed in his excited expectation that certain communicative and interactional behavior will be forthcoming in response to his communicative readiness …. Shame arises from a disturbance of recognition, producing familiar responses to an unfamiliar person, as long as we understand the “different” mother to be the unfamiliar person.  That a mother (even a “good enough” mother) can be a stranger to her own infant at times is not really surprising since the mother’s moods, preoccupations, conlicts [sic] and defences [sic] will disturb her physiognomy and at times alter her established communication patterns.  (p.  370)

in (Schore/ar/160)”

I think mother did far more than shame me at these times.  I think she terrorized me and hurt me greatly.  My shame, then, has very deep roots to both of these primal emotions – terror and pain/hopeless despair.  Is that why I am crying while I study this so that I can barely see the words on the page?

It is the sudden and rapid processing of this dissonant visuoaffective information that underlies the “unexpected” quality of shame (Lynd, 1958).  Research on face scanning indicates that infants are most sensitive to affective expressions in which specifically the eyes vary the most [my mother’s eyes toward me were terrifying – like she was demonic or possessed by something huge and evil] (Haith, Bergman, & Moore, 1979).  The instant state of shame distress derives not so much from the perception of the mother’s face or smile as much as from the infant’s recognition of the mother’s break in participation from anticipated communicative visuoaffective eye-to-eye contact.  The induction of a stress state at this point is understandable in that “stress is defined as a change or a threat of change demanding adaptation by an organism: (Schneiderman & McCabe, 1985, p. 13).  The experience of shame has been associated with unfulfilled expectations (Wurmser, 1981).  The shock of shame results from the violation of the infant’s expectation of affective attunement based on a memory of the last contact with the mother that was energizing, facilitating, and rewarding for the grandiose self.  (Schore/ar/160)”

“McDevitt (1975) argued that the practicing infant maintains an illusion (holds a memory) that the mother is with him/her whenever he/she chooses to move away from her.  Sherwood furthered this idea in postulating a “practicing illusion” of maintaining oneness while at a distance from the mother, which reflects the grandiose cognition “that the mother is constantly available in her mirroring function” (1989, p. 15).  [So what happens when toddler’s have mothers like MINE!  She never mirrored me!] Shame-stress experiences puncture this illusion at reunion as the emerging self [Maybe I didn’t have an “emerging self!”] encounters a discrepancy between the memory of an ideal symbiotic attunement and the current perceptual input of dyadic affective misattunement.  [How long are they saying a toddler can hold this memory of the last affectively attuned moment it had with its mother?  If I had any, they were so far between, how could I have remembered?] The mother’s mirroring function suddenly vanishes, and there is a rapid deenergizing affective experience, a deactivation of the attachment system, a reduction of interest-excitement, and a “sudden decrement in mounting pleasure” (enjoyment-joy; Tomkins, 1963) in the precipitous fall from positively experienced pleasurable exhibitionism to negatively experienced painful shame.  The infant switches from an affectively elated externally focused state to an affectively deflated internally focused state, and active expressive affective communication is suddenly displaced by passive receptive emotional surveillance.  Interest, curiosity, focused attention, and positive hedonic tone are instantly transformed into diffuse distress, unfocused attention, and negative hedonic tone.  (Schore/ar/161)”

Seems like a huge approach-avoid issue!

“This deflated, “toned-down” state of low arousal, negative emotion, and unfocused attention has been described in practicing infants undergoing separation stress….The low-keyed state, isomorphic to the shame state in which interest and attention to the external environment is suddenly terminated, is a defensive and adaptive phenomenon that comes to the foreground and is most visible under situations of extended separation stress.  It has been suggested to represent a narcissistic regressive defense (McDevitt, 1980); as such it reflects a passive rather than an active coping mechanism.  (Schore/ar/161)”

Sounds like dissociation! How is it different?  Because the infant has to FEEL it instead of being numbed (supposedly).  But the hyperarousal does not go away in dissociation, and they seem to be saying that it does in shame.

I need to compare the below information with what I have written under dissociation – there HAS to be a connection, and if I am very lucky Schore will make it.  Otherwise, I will have to make it myself!

“Mahler likened this state to Kaufman and Rosenblum’s (1969) separation state of “conservation-withdrawal,” which occurs in “helpless” stressful situations where active coping responses are unavailable, and which “may be adaptive for the “exhausted” organism in replenishing energy stores and restoring physiological equilibrium (Field, 1985b, p. 215).  This state is driven by dorsal motor vagal activity associated with immobilization and hiding behaviors. Recall Erikson’s (1950) assertion that the defensive reaction of shame is expressed as hiding or concealment.  Furthermore, it is similar to Bowlby’s (1969b) “profound detachment” phase of infant separations in which metabolic conservation and inhibition (e.g. dorsal motor vagal induced heart rate deceleration) is maintained until reunion with the mother becomes possible (during the high-arousal, agitated “protest” stage heart rate acceleration occurs).  Also note (Schore/ar/161) that in the shame transaction the break in the attachment bond is not caused by the highly aroused child’s movement away from the mother, or even the mother’s movement away from the child, but instead by the active blockade of the child’s return to and emotional reconnection with the mother; a separation-induced stress response is triggered in the presence of and by the mother. (Schore/ar/162)”

The shame-induced failure in the modulation of affect, attention, cognition, and motor activity is produced by the sudden plummeting mood shift and propulsion of the toddler into a disorganized deflation state of sensory underload-induced low arousal.  Since this low-keyed state below the limits of the infant’s “optimal activation band” (Field, 1981) or “optimal range of stimulation” (Stern, 1985), it produces a shame state of “narcissistic distress” (Miller, 1988) which he/she cannot at this age actively self-regulate.  It is known that moderate levels of arousal are associated with positive affect and focused attention, while extreme levels of arousal (high or low) are related to negative emotion and distracted attention (Malmo, 1959).  … Activation theorists have shown that extremely low levels of arousal, like high levels, are associated with uncomfortable negative emotional states and behavioral inefficiency (Cofer & Appley, 1964); both understimulation stress and overstimulation stress are know to be aversive (Goldberger, 1982).  Phenomenologically, the toddler experiences a hyperactive physiological state, as reflected in suddenly increased dorsal motor vagal parasympathetic ANS activity (e.e., a stress state).  Interestingly, the heightened autonomic reactions in shame, blushing, sweating, and so on, have been likened to the infantile preverbal psychosomatic state (Anthony, 1981).  Broucek (1982) also equated an infant “distress state” with a primitive shame experience.  (Schore/ar/162)”

“It is proposed that in the toddler, as well as the adult, the brake of incrementing arousal seen in shame (e.g., reflected in cardiac deceleration, switch in mood, gaze aversion, and blushing) reflects a sudden dynamic switch from sympathetic dominant to parasympathetic dominant ANS activity (drive reduction). The diminution of sympathetic activity in shame underlies the hedonic mood change and the disruption of motor (behavioral) and cognitive activities, and the replacement of parasympathetic passive for sympathetic active coping processes is reflected in the common shame experience of helplessness and passivity accompanying the exquisitely painful sensitivity to critical reactions of others (Morrison, 1985); that is, the loss of a mechanism to actively cope with narcissistic pain.  (Schore/ar/162)”



“(I suggest that as opposed to the elevated dorsal motor vagal parasympathetic autonomic component that always accompanies shame, humiliation involves an elevated parasympathetic plus a heightened sympathetic reactivity.)  (Schore/ar/162)”


“The two components of the centrally, brain-stem-regulated ANS are known to be antagonistic, reciprocally integrated circuits (Hess, 1954) that control arousal, with the catabolic sympathetic branch responsible for energy-mobilizing excitatory activity and heart rate acceleration and the anabolic parasympathetic branch involved in energy-conserving inhibitory activity and heart rate decelera- (Schore/ar/162) tion (Porges, 1976).  Broverman, Klaiber, Kobayashi, and Bogel noted that “the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous systems are frequently in competition and the final effect then depends upon the relationship between the momentary activity of the two systems:  (1968, p. 29).  (Schore/ar/163)”

“It has long been acknowledged that “the physiological expression of emotion is dependent, in part, upon both sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system” (Truex & Carpenter, 1964, p. 431).  It is posited that predominant sympathetic activity underlies high-intensity, narcissistically cathected affect states, and dominant dorsal motor vagal parasympathetic function is reflected in low-keyed emotional states.  Hofer’s work (1983) indicated that attachment and separation responses reflect the activity of not a single but multiple emotional systems.  Again, it should be remembered hat the practicing period represents a developmental phase of imbalance, of unregulated sympathetic overexcitation.  (Schore/ar/163)”

“The idea that the prototypical shame transaction involves a break in attachment, a barrier to a reconnection after a separation, an expectation of seeing the gleam in the mother’s eye in a reunion, but suddenly encounters frustration and experiences instead a bodily-based autonomic stress response may seem unfamiliar.  (Schore/ar/163)”


“Shame induction triggers an assault on the burgeoning narcissism of the practicing infant, on the ideal ego (primary narcissism), and represents the first experience of narcissistic injury and narcissistic depletion associated with all later shame experiences.  It is at the point of this painful type of rupture in the infant-mother bond that the neoevolving, emotionally fragile, differentiating nascent self collapses, triggering physiological upheaval (the infantile psychosomatic state). [What does that mean?] (Schore/ar/163)”

“Schneider (1977) noted that in shame a break occurs in the self’s relationship to others and to itself; the self is no longer whole but divided.  (Schore/ar/163)” [How can this be for a one year old who doesn’t have a self yet?  Or just a neo-self?]

“in Kohutian terminology, shame is related to an empathic break between the mir- (Schore/ar/163) roring self object and the grandiose self (Josephs, 1989).  In an attachment theory conception, Lewis (1980) noted that the “attachment emotion” of shame is an “implosion” or transient destruction of the self (while the self is intact in guilt).  And in Mahlerian terms, Broucek pointed out that early experiences of large toxic doses of shame may impair ongoing development by “undermining separation-individuation processes and promoting regressive efforts to reestablish a symbiotic type of relationship” (1982, p. 37).  (Schore/ar/164)”

“As maturation proceeds, this object relations sequence and its associated shame affect is internalized; ultimately shame is associated with the self’s vicarious experience of the other’s negative evaluation (Lewis, 1979).  What once took place within the caregiver-infant unit is subsequently performed intrapsychically…. As Basch maintained, “Later in life this same reaction occurs under similar circumstances, i.e. when we think we have failed to achieve or have broken a desired bond with anotherThe exquisite painfulness of that reaction in later life harks back to the earliest period when such a condition is not simply uncomfortable but threatens life itself” (1976, p. 767).  (Schore/ar/164)”

And it does threaten an infant’s life to be faced with “rejection” by the caregiver.  An infant is totally dependent for its life on this person.

How was I supposed to ever begin to learn that my life was separate from my mother’s, or that I was a separate self from her?

Fight, flight, freeze – what about hiding and concealment, which is what he is talking about with the shame reaction?

“In the shame transaction there is thus a state of dysynchrony, a break of attachment, of “misattunement” between the toddler and caregiver, a “mismatch of need and anticipation in the caregiver-infant pairing”  (Licktenberg, 1983).  However, the object-relation sequence within the dyad is not quite completed – the pair may attempt to resynchronize.  In fact, an adaptation by the infant to the psychosocial stress can only be established with the mother’s cooperation at reunion.  Indeed, stress has been defined as the occurrence of an asynchrony in an interactional sequence.  Further, “a period of synchrony, following the period of stress, provides a ‘recover’ period” (Chapple, 1970, p. 631).  (Schore/ar/164)”

“The frustrative state in shame has been conceptualized as arising from “an inability to effectively arouse the other person’s positive reactions to one’s communication” (Basch, 1976, p. 767).  The overt behavior of the toddler….act as a signal to the attuned mother of the toddler’s internal state of distress.  Indeed, the preverbal infant communicates to her the dysregulation of his/her ANS, because “the language of mother and infant consists of signals produced by the autonomic, involuntary nervous system in both parties” (Basch, 1976, p. 766), and the mother is the regulator of the infant’s developing ANS (Hofer, 1984b)  (Schore/ar/164)”

“The infant’s averted gaze, which reflects the attenuation of an object-relating interactional mode, has been shown to be a potent elicitor of attention from (Schore/ar/164) mothers of securely attached infants, but not from those of insecurely attached infants (Leavitt & Donovan, 1979).  …. Sroufe (1979) suggested that infant affects have three functions:  the amplification and exaggeration of behavior, the communication of information about internal states, and the elicitation of helpful reactions from the mother…. The child’s face thus powerfully signals the caregiver of his/her internal shame-dominated affective state, isolation, and experience that the object-relation link has been severed.  [If there has ever been one!!] (Schore/ar/165)”

The nature of the caregiver’s response (or lack of it) at this point is critical to the regulation of the shame affect, that is, shame recovery and the subsequent evolution of an internalized mechanism to regulate shame stress states.  An important principle of attachment theory is that parental sensitivity and responsiveness to the child’s affective communications is critical to the child’s organization and regulation of his/her emotional experiences (Sroufe & Waters, 1977).  Sensitive mothers offer stimulation contingent upon the infant’s facial orientation:  “At the most basic, ‘security of attachment’ relates to a physiological coding that the universe is benign and need-satisfying, that is, homeostatic disruptions will be set right” (Pipp & Harmon, 1987, p. 650).  Demos and Kaplan pointed out that the caregiver’s response to the infant’s affective states is fundamental to the attachment phenomenon:  “[T]he baby will become attached to the caregiver who can help to modulate and to minimize the experience of negative and who maximizes and expands opportunities for positive affect” (1986, p. 169).  (Schore/ar/165)”

“Mothers of securely attached infants show a tendency to respond appropriately and promptly to their infants’ emotional expressions (Ainsworth et al., 1978).  This facilitates the creation of a system of reciprocal regulation, and fosters an expectation that during times of stress the attachment object will remain available and accessible.  It also engenders a precursor of self-confidence, a sense in the infant that his/her own activity can control the effect that his/her environment will have on the infant (Ainsworth & Bell, 1974).  This sense of “control” could underlay the emergence of “active” (as opposed to passive) coping responses to emotional stress, and the ontogeny of early intrapsychic psychological defenses, which have been characterized as a subset of coping mechanisms (Rutter, 1987).  (Schore/ar/165)….Levine (1983) argued that the development of coping responses is dependent upon early experience.  (Schore/ar/166)”

“The work of Tronick (1989) with 2- to 9-month-old infants demonstrated…that it is the caregiver who is responsible for the reparation of dyadic misattunements and the transformation of the infant’s negative emotion to this stress into a positive emotion.  Tronick argued that mismatches allow for the development of interactive, coping, and self-regulatory skills, and enable the child to maintain engagement with the social environment in the face of stress[Instead of, I suppose, dissociating!] He also noted that the capacity for interactive repair will later contribute to the security of attachment….under the aegis of a sensitive and cooperative caregiver, the infant develops an internal representation of himself/herself as effective, of his/her interactions as positive and reparable, and of the caregiver as reliable…..the process of interactive repair is central to the regulation of later-emerging affects, specifically mentioning shame and guilt.  (Schore/ar/166)”

italics below are Schore’s:

“It is important to distinguish among shame stress, the narcissistic affect shame, and the process which regulates this affect, shame regulation….practicing caregiver-induced shame stress produces a state of dyadic mismatch and misattunement, triggering rapid offset of narcissistic, positive hedonic affect and onset of negative affective shame distress, propelling the previously hyperaroused child into an internally focused, passive, hypoaroused shame stateThe maternal response to the reengaging toddler at reunion after an attachment break is critical to the reparative process of affect regulationIf she is responsive and approachable, the object relations link is reconnected, the infant’s attachment system is reactivated, the arousal deceleration is inhibited, and shame is metabolized.  As a result, the child recovers from the injury to narcissism and recovers from shame.  (Schore/ar/166)”

He does not use the word trauma in his descriptions about this process, yet it seems that the infant must experience this process as traumatic.

“This active recovery mechanism develops in the context of effective early object relations in an “average, expectable environment” (Plutchik, 1983) in order to regulate affective perturbations associated with disruptions in self- and object relationships.  The prototype for this the evolution of this mechanism lies in the mother’s response to the child’s shame distress.  Kaufman asserted that the shame state that “originates from an interpersonal severing process” may be ameliorated by the process of “restoring the interpersonal bridge” (1985, p. 143).  (Schore/ar/166)”

“In this transaction the underaroused practicing baby is energized by the mother.  Consequently, unfocused attention and negative hedonic tone is transformed within ten seconds into focused attention and positive hedonic tone.  (Schore/ar/167)” [He is talking here about when the infant moves out into the world and “fails” and comes back to the mother who responds appropriately to its “toned-down” and depleted low-keyed state]

“In the dyadic shame transaction the infant’s low-keyed state was triggered by the caregiver’s misattunement, and so, subsequent to her induction of the infant’s stressful low arousal state she now acts to interactively regulate the shame state.  In doing so, the shame-modulating caregiver and the infant again cocreate a psychobiological bond of interactive regulation, which switches off the infant’s dorsal motor vagal parasympathetic-mediating low arousal that fuels the child’s anhedonic depressive state, thereby allowing for a reignition of sympathetic activity which supports higher levels of arousal.  The stress regulating caregiver thus facilitates a transition from the primitive dorsal motor vagal to the later maturing and flexible nucleus ambiguous vagal system in the infant’s developing brain.  (Schore/ar/167)”


“Recall, as opposed to the “vegetative” or “reptilian” parasympathetic system in the dorsal motor nucleus that shuts down metabolic activity during immobilization, death feigning, and hiding behaviors, the “smart” or “mammalian” vagal system in the nucleus ambiguous allows for the ability to communicate via facial expressions (mutual gaze), vocalizations, and gestures in contingent social interactions.  This interactive regulation produces a shift from passive to active coping, and negative/passive to positive/active mood. (Schore/ar/167)”

Interesting, so this is the difference!  Shame interacts with the mammalian vagal, not the reptilian!

“It should be pointed out that these shame regulating transactions are carried out repeatedly throughout the practicing period, and that a characteristic prototypical pattern of dealing with misattuned states and distressing affects develops between the primary attachment figure and the child; Waters (1978) found stable reunion patterns of affect regulation at 12 and 18 months (practicing and rapprochement).  (Schore/ar/167)”

italics below are Schore’s:

It is the child’s experiencing of an affect and the caregiver’s response to this particular affect that is internalized as an affect-regulating interactive presentation during reunion episodes. The internalization of affective and cognitive components of relationships operationally defines the construction of internal working models (Pipp & Harmon, 1987) that organize the individual’s construction of subsequent relationships.  These practicing-imprinted models are equated with Stern’s (1985) “generalized episodes of interactions that are mentally represented,” and with Kernberg’s (1984) internalized representations of (Schore/ar/167) the self affectively transacting with objects in the social environment.  According to Bowlby (1973), these models of attachment relationships contain internalized representations of early parental attributes, particularly conceptions of the caregiver’s accessibility and responsiveness.  (Schore/ar/168)”

“Kobak and Sceery noted that these internal models that define “styles of affect regulation” provide “rules for regulating distress-related affect…in the context of parental responsiveness to the child’s signals of distress” (1988, p. 142)….Importantly, practicing shame transactions and the maternal regulation of shame stress act as a developmental matrix or the evolution of the capacity to experience, tolerate, and regulate shame, and represent an interpersonal source of the emergence of adaptive coping strategies for dealing with subsequent narcissistic stress.  These practicing-internalized models involving the attachment emotion of shame are imprinted into the earliest episodic memory, which stores events that have meaning for the concept of self (Tulving, 1972), and are the source of early, preverbal (and therefore later unconscious), deep transference patterns.  Bowlby (1988) posited that the uncovering and reassessment of early internalized working models is the essential task of psychothetrapy [sic].  (Schore/ar/168)”

“It is in this particular interpersonal context late in the practicing period that the developmental transition of external to internal regulation via increasing levels of internalization occurs (McDevitt, 1980).  Hofer (1984b) proposed that internal representations of human relationships serve as “biologic regulators”; the physiological regulatory function of the infant’s ANS is initially performed by the mother, and subsequently internalized by the infant. Greenspan (1981) argued that in the ontogeny of homeostatic regulation of the infant’s arousal or excitation, the function is first performed by the responsive mother, and then gradually acquired by the infant.  Thus, interactive regulation of the infant’s external emotional expression…is a precursor to self-regulation of internal emotional states…at the end of the practicing phase.  (Schore/ar/168)”

“…These maternal “selfobject” functions are specifically affect regulatory functions, of both arousal reduction and arousal induction.  Stolorow, Brandchaft, and Atwood (1987) argued that the caregiver’s attuned responsiveness to the child’s intense, shifting affective states allows for the evolution of an internalized structure that can modulate and contain strong affect.  Such opportunities for internalization determine the structural development of an affect regulator allowing for later emotional self- (Schore/ar/168) regulation that provides for constancy of internal affective states, that is, mood autoregulation.  (Schore/ar/169)”

“Furthermore, this affect regulator is critical to the maintenance of recurrent positive mood and the establishment of Emde’s (1983) “affective core” that regulates the infant’s interactive behavior. [And eventually the person’s internal behavior, as well!] In securely attached infants, distress does not endure for long periods beyond the conditions that elicit them; rapid recovery to positively toned emotions is typical (Gaensbauer & Mrazek, 1981).  In contrast, infants who are insecurely attached show “a greater tendency for negative emotional states to endure beyond the precipitating stimulus events” (Gaensbauer, 1982, p. 169).  (Schore/ar/169)”

And we wonder why we don’t have peace of mind and a sense of well-being in adulthood?  These infants are already showing the consequence of their negative caregiving!


“Within the major developmental transition from practicing to rapprochement, important affective, cognitive, and behavioral changes occur.  The emergence of new function and structure during this boundary period rests upon successful passage through preceding stages.  Mahler and colleagues asserted:  “Normal autism and normal symbiosis are prerequisite to the onset of the normal separation and individuation process” (1975, p. 47).  Similarly, adequate development in the practicing subphase is a prerequisite for rapprochement success.  More specifically, it is required for successful passage from one stage into the next; that is, through the portal of the rapprochement crisis.  (Schore/ar/169)”

“practicing offset/rapprochment [sic] onset” – “toddler’s elated preoccupation with locomotion and exploration…[is] beginning to wane”….”rapprochement crisis” involves “the collapse of the illusion of omnipotence:  “Now he is small and alone in a big world, rathr than sharing in the (imagined) omnipotence of the mother-child unit” [Pine] (1980, p. 226)  (This omnipotence, supported by the tolerance of high arousal affect, reflects a fairly successful transition through all stages up to and including the practicing phase; a poor symbiotic experience would obviate this)….Parkins defined the “narcissistic crisis” (Mahler’s rapprochement crisis) as “the necessity of yielding up to reality the child’s illusory claims to omnipotence” (1985, p. 146).  (Schore/ar/1689)”

“This critical developmental transition emotionally tests the mother-child dyad and their ability to remain connected during the stage-specific narcissistic distress that unfolds.  (Schore/ar/169)”

“…although during the crisis the ambitendent toddler moves away from the mother, he/she returns during periods of distress.  The mother’s “quiet availability” in these reunions for regulation of distressing affects (arousal modulation) is an essential caregiver function.  During this period of developmental crisis, separation anxiety is intensified due to fear of loss of the mother as a newly discovered separate object, and narcissistic rages and tantrums are used by the child to regain control….the response of attachment figures to this behavior is critical.  (Schore/ar/170)”

“The markers of a successful developmental passage through this stage transition are well known.  Kohut (1971) underscored the principle that a true sense of self is a product of the accommodation or neutralization of the individual’s grandiosity and idealization.  [Is this related to Bateman’s description of pretend mode thinking stages?] Parkin emphasized that “with this resolution there is a subsidence of the child’s rages and of his external struggles with his mother for power” (1985, p. 147), and Settlage (1977) asserted that one of the major developmental tasks of the rapprochement phase is the modulation of infantile rage.  (Schore/ar/170)”

“What fundamental internal transformations are being reflected in these changes:  Kagan (1979) found the period of 17 to 21 months (the practicing-rapprochement border) to be a critical developmental point, noting a shift from spatial-perceptual to a more symbolic linguistic cognitive mode of problem solving…..emergent cognitive functions at this time….however, …the child at this point in development is still essentially “preverbal.”  The effective vocabulary (words spoken or understood) of the average 18-month-old is only 22 words (Mussen, Conger, & Kagan, 1969), and emotion-descriptive language does not first emerge until 20 months of age (Bretherton, McNew, & Beeghly, 1981).  (Schore/ar/170)”

“… the appearance of new cognitive abilities, presumably reflecting the ongoing postnatal maturation of the cerebral cortex (Yakovlev & LeCours, 1967)l, especially the early-maturing right cerebral hemisphere (Geschwind & Galaburda, 1987).  This could explain the more efficient ability to process and internally store symbolic representations of the external world, but, to my mind, does not reveal the essential transformation in affect and affect regulation that marks the rapprochement crisisthe deflation of practicing “elation” and “exhilaration” that supports the illusion of omnipotence.  Mahler emphasized that during the rapprochement crisis, which is essentially an emotional crisis, the toddler shows “an increasing differentiation of his emotional life” (1980, p. 9).  (Schore/ar/170)”

++ “the deflation of practicing “elation” and “exhilaration” that supports the illusion of omnipotence” – I still ask about this being related to pretend mode functioning – if it is not resolved, do the illusions stay and/or continue to cause problems?

“It is posited here that the shame system, the regulator of hyperstimulated (excited, elated, grandiose, manic) states, critical to the modulation of high-arousal narcissistic affects characteristic of the practicing period, is required for deflation of omnipotence and resolution of the rapprochement (narcissistic) crisis.  Johnson (1987) pointed out that from the practicing phase onward, the parents must supply repeated but supportive and not humiliating frustration of the child’s illusion of grandiosity.  In optimal situations this deflation should be gradual and not precipitous and overwhelming; the nascent self is plastic, yet fragile.  (Schore/ar/171)”

“These early-frustrative socializing events may serve as stress immunization experiences that allow for tolerance, coping, and recovery from later attachment stresses.  (Schore/ar/171)”

“Greenspan (1981) pointed out that the ultimate indicator of attachment capacity is resilience in the face of stress.  (Schore/ar/171)”

“Hunt (1965) suggested that regularly sheltering children from stressors is counterproductive for optimal emotional development.  (Schore/ar/171)”


“…Kohut proposed, “Small (subliminal) shame signals play a role in maintaining a homeostatic narcissistic equilibrium” (1971, p. 181).  These may represent the mechanism of modulated phase-appropriate empathic failures that allow for transmuting internalizations.  Kohut stipulated, “Tolerable disappointments in the pre-existing (and externally sustained) primary narcissistic equilibrium lead to the establishment of internal structures which provide the ability for self-soothing and the acquisition of basic tension tolerance in the narcissistic realm” (1971, p. 64).  (Schore/ar/170)” (Schore/ar/171)”

I imagine so things don’t hurt so much later on!  Yet what does he mean b “pre-existing …primary narcissistic equilibrium?”  The one the caregiver is supposed to externally maintain?  And what happens if that doesn’t happen?


“Broucek asserted, “In small, unavoidable ‘doses,’ shame may enhance self and object differentiation and assist the individuation process because it involves acute awareness of one’s separateness from the important other” (1982, p. 37).  (Schore/ar/171)”

“…Nathanson (1987) pointed out that shame experiences producing lapses in the smooth physiological functioning of the organism [well, certainly not smooth in my case!] act as a major force in shaping the infantile self.  Basch (1988) maintained that shame acts to protect the self-system by modifying patterns of expectations in the interest of social maturation.  The positive aspect of this unique affect “which in contrast to all other affects … is an experience of the self by the self” (Schneider, 1977, p. 25), and which reflects “heightened self-consciousness” (Tomkins, 1963), can be seen in its role in protecting individuation, the growth process of delimiting the boundaries and nature of the self.  Spero (1984) argued that the constructive function of shame can be seen in the process of differentiation of the self in the presence of danger of self-other merger [I wish he said more about this]; and Severino, McNutt, and Feder (1986), using clinical case material, concluded that the capacity to experience shame is crucial for the achievement of autonomy.  (Schore/ar/171

++ shame experiences producing lapses in the smooth physiological functioning of the organism

++ act as a major force in shaping the infantile self.

++ shame acts to protect the self-system by modifying patterns of expectations in the interest of social maturation.

++ The positive aspect of this unique affect “which in contrast to all other affects … is an experience of the self by the self”

++ which reflects “heightened self-consciousness”

++ its role in protecting individuation, the growth process of delimiting the boundaries and nature of the self.

++ the constructive function of shame can be seen in the process of differentiation of the self in the presence of danger of self-other merger [he doesn’t really explain this function]

++ the capacity to experience shame is crucial for the achievement of autonomy.  (Schore/ar/171)”

This makes me think that I need to rethink this from my own perspective.  If I never anticipated that mother would be excited for me when I left and came back to her, how could I have been disappointed and then experienced the “let down” of shame?  Maybe I never felt shame.  Maybe I felt terror and pain, but not shame.  Maybe I had been so intensely shamed from such a young age, much too young an age, that I had lost the capacity to feel it?  Maybe I did not have the capacity.  I certainly did not have:

smooth physiological functioning of the organism …an  infantile self.  …a  self-system to even protect….by modifying patterns of expectations in the interest of social maturation…..what kind of expectations did I have?  And I did not achieve any social maturation….I did not have an experience of the self by the self” and no “heightened self-consciousness” because I did not have a self or consciousness….. protecting individuation, the growth process of delimiting the boundaries and nature of the self…this did not happen…. … the constructive function of shame can be seen in the process of differentiation of the self in the presence of danger of self-other merger …..I was merged….,…the capacity to experience shame is crucial for the achievement of autonomy…I don’t know if I had the capacity to experience shame……if I did, I wasn’t allowed to probably use it….and I did not achieve autonomy…..


I think that if this stage is not accomplished correctly, a person, as an adult, will always find themselves at the “edge of risk” in any social situation involving a perception that the other person will be rejecting or displeasured.  This is too near a “tipping point” into possible chaos for the individual so threatened for them to feel a sense of well being because they lack a sense of competence and capability to accomplish social interactions adequately.   The “constraint” on the fear has remained external rather than internal because the developmental stage that was required for external to become internal did not happen.  There remains an expectation built upon repeated horrible early experiences of traumatic rejection in infancy, or at least from the ensuing experiences of a long childhood of abuse, that predisposed this person to need continual external confirmation that “things are OK” and therefore “I am OK.”

(Expectations, anticipation, desires, hopes, odds for fulfillment)

These social interactions require an unusually high expenditure of energy and always with the interaction is a threat to a major disturbance of internal equilibrium.    If there is no confidence that the state of balance necessary to sustain life can be achieved and maintained internally so the “power” of survival is always displaced into and onto the other person this individual is interacting with.  These people are therefore always in a state of distress as members of their species.  They did not successfully complete the necessary stages required to obtain fully functioning species specific skills or behaviors, certainly not ones that they can trust and rely upon.  They are therefore constantly vulnerable and dependent on other people’s reactions because the other person’s reactions will therefore provide the determining outcome of any interaction.

This is literally a shifting of the “center of balance” of the very ANS itself outside of the individual and into the external world.  The infant’s survival depended upon its caregiver’s reactions to it, and this condition has never evolved into an autonomous state.  In addition,  without the corresponding ability to mentalize either self or other, which should also have been an end result of successful developmental stage achievements, this individual cannot even know with any certainty what another person is thinking, feeling, believing, intending, valuing – or what any “likely” response may be.

They are therefore continually “in the dark” on the very edge of and at the tipping point of where survival meets the potential for destruction.  This is where an internal experience of distress, or “upset” sits right on top of the very real sense that “upset” of the nervous system and upset of any sense of safety is most likely to become a reality – and this scenario exists with EVERY encounter with another person.  Any ability to be selective about whom the risk exists with and whom it doesn’t – who is safe and who isn’t – has never been obtained (versus having once been obtained and then having been lost).  The fear is indiscriminate, as it exists as a blanket generalization carried deep within the ANS and the brain-mind-body-self of the survivor.

During infancy there were no opportunities for repair of ruptures between self and other that resulted from a “conflict of interest” and “other initiated” states of misattunement between them.  The “other” always won, and the infant always lost.  This realization of the fact of threat and defeat became entrenched into the fiber of the infant’s being on every conceivable level, so that the experience of never having experienced an alternative POSITIVE outcome became the experience of consistently and always experiencing a traumatic and life threatening experience resulting from interactions with others.

Thus this experience of experiencing the experience of traumatic experiences with others always DID lead to life-and-death consequences in the past, and because there were no alternative outcome back THEN, there are no alternative outcomes expected or anticipated NOW.  Without a clear, concise or distinct contingent connection THEN between the infant’s behavior or feelings and the consequence of life-threatening outcomes, an ability to conceive of a clear connection between cause-and-effect was never established.  Therefore interactions with others did not MEAN anything to the infant itself other than root survival or not, and therefore experience did not have any possibility of establishing an internal connection to the child.

There was no experience of “when I do this then that will happen” in any predictable fashion.  The infant never had the experience of being in control or of being competent, no sense of mastery over the external world.  No ability to predict results in no ability to anticipate.  What is most fascinating to me is the fact that the end result for me of the abuse I suffered is that I not only did not anticipate or expect my mother’s positive reactions to me, but I also lacked the capacity or ability to predict or to anticipate the violent outcomes, either.  Anticipation, prediction and expectation are somehow intimately connected with one another.

In order for the brain to pay attention to relevant aspects of information from the external environment, or from the internal environment, there has to have been, from the beginning, some pattern of order that leads to predictability in the infant’s world.  What is of significance to the developing infant (and therefore to its developing brain-mind) is the state of the interactions with the primary caregiver.  If the caregiver is consistently out-of-control, the infant’s entire experience will be consistently of an out-of-control world.  To me, one of the defining characteristics of trauma is that it is not predictable and not contingent on anything “controllable” within a person’s experience of the world.  In any encounter with trauma, the bottom line will always be survival of the organism by any means possible.  And that bottom-line survival will always occur on the level of physicality.  If the body does not survive the “attack” of the trauma, there is no hope of anything else – and nothing else matters.

If trauma could be predicted or controlled, it would not be trauma.  It would be something else, and different consequences would be the result.  Evolution itself has built into living organisms’ automatic responses to the threat of extinction, and these fundamental responses are not to be argued with.  We exist because they exist. Nobody – and I mean no body – is exempt or excluded from the physiological, biological very real reactions to threat of extinction.  And if this threat of extinction is present from birth in an infant’s environment, its entire being will develop in an “off kilter” fashion from the norm.  There is no other way that its development can occur.  The experience of building a brain under conditions of chronic peritrauma will affect every aspect of the survivor’s existence.

If one grows from birth with their feet firmly bound, their eventual ability to walk normally would be considered to be a miracle.  So while we might be tempted to say that if a person abused from birth and throughout their childhood appears to be “normal,” and that a miracle must have occurred, we had better be not only careful about our assumptions and observations, but also be extremely meticulous in considering what innate human capabilities allowed such an outcome to be possible.

We must also carry with us the assurance that once a cadaver is dissected in autopsy, the retrospective information that might be gained can never amount to any description of who that living being was in its wholeness.  As complex living systems, human beings are far more than the sum of our parts.  At our essence, we exist on multiple levels of interactional systems, and at their core and at our core, the roots begin with the conception of our physical bodies and continue to reside as manifestations of them for the rest of our lives.  While we may be more than our biologies, we are not in this lifetime separate from them.  And if we endured and survived an extremely abusive infancy and childhood, there is a reason why.  To find that reason was the purpose that governed the writing of this book.

And what I have learned up to this point is that if the very survival of an infant is chronically threatened from the moment of its birth, the primitive nervous system reaction resulting in “feigning death” that  we call dissociation will circumvent the development and utilization of the later more advanced nervous system reaction of “hiding and concealment” that we call shame.  Shame is an attachment emotion contingent upon an infant’s capacity to anticipate a positive reaction from a caregiver.  The experience is therefore contingent upon the preexistence of an attachment relationship with this caregiver.  If the infant has no attachment relationship with its caregiver it will not be able to anticipate a reunion with it.  No anticipation of a positive reunion means that there will be no experience of the social emotion of shame.

The shame experience is a “higher level” mammalian response that is meant to temporarily put the brakes on the heightened arousal of the sympathetic branch of the ANS.  The experience is a temporary shutting down of activity on multiple levels because there is the assumption, or expectation, that the organism exists in a environment where species specific social encounters are likely to be operating so that a negotiation of arousal levels will occur with a member of its species PRESENT at the time.

The experience of dissociation is also one of a shutting down of arousal levels within the ANS, but on an “older” reptilian level.  It operates under the assumption or expectation of the overwhelming threat to physical existence on a primary level.  It could be said that while the shame response operates when there is a suspicion that withdrawal of life support MAY be possible and that destruction and doom MIGHT come, the dissociation response operates when there is every reason to believe that right NOW destruction of the organism is imminent and that the moment of doom and destruction HAS come.

The mammalian response of shame corresponds to a belief on some level of the organism that they are not alone and that someone external but present will assist through the crisis and that there is a possibility of negotiation and rescue.  The reptilian response of dissociation occurs when the organism knows fundamentally that they are alone, and there is no hope of a member of its species coming to its assistance or rescue.

Shame is therefore a “with” response while dissociation is a “without” response.  Shame operates within an attachment situation.  Dissociation operates without one.  These responses are biophysiologically determined.  Dissociation operates on a primal level.  Shame occurs as a result of more advanced, evolved and developed capacities.  While dissociation is simple, shame is far more complex.

Once an organism has had prior experiences that have built within it a sense or a belief that allows it to hope for a resolution other than extinction, it can utilize a shame response.  Shame is therefore a form of secondary defense against a possibility of extinction that may or may not exist.  Because there is no assurance of immediate annihilation, the ANS response is to actually depress the arousal level of the organism.  The state of hyperarousal of the sympathetic system gives way to a reduction in energy through the initiation of the parasympathetic system.  This results in a very real reduction in arousal level called hypoarousal, and in an actual state depletion and of “depression” within the body.  This is simply a temporary “hiding and concealment” response to a “what if” situation.

In contrast, because the dissociation response operates when impending annihilation is perceived to be an actual reality rather than a possible threat, the shutting down of the sympathetic “go” branch of the ANS is an illusion rather than an actual fact.  Yet this illusion obliterates distractions.  The state of hyperarousal still exists.  The organism might need its full resources of available energy at any split second if this “feigning death” doesn’t work.  It is an “as is” response.  The organism is responding not to a perceived threat of death, but to the known outcome of death.  In dissociation, the threshold of “overwhelming” has been crossed.  A transitional space that allows for a waiting time to see if someone might come to the rescue does not exist.

The shame system and its resulting states are considered to be attachment transactions which operate within the larger context of an attachment system.  Attachment transactions are about emotional regulation.  Shame occurs because of a break in relationship attunement, and the experience of shame therefore contains within it the possibility of amelioration.  This process is supposed to occur first in infancy as the infant has the experience of the caregiver initiating and repairing the break.  Eventually the infant will have internalized mental representations of these repair experiences and can then utilize them the rest of their lives in order to negotiate perceived or actual breaks within attachment relationships.

Because shame does not occur within a context of immediate threat of annihilation, and because the depression of the “go” nervous system is actual and not an illusion, the individual in a state of shame is not numb and is not immune from feeling the full experience of the emotions contained within the shame transaction.  Shame in infancy is considered to be a diffuse rather than a focused attentional state because the infant has no way to control or to resolve the problem that the omnipotent caregiver has caused.  If the caregiver does not respond appropriately in repairing the break in the relationship to restore emotional equilibrium to the infant, the extension of the state of shame is toxic and the infant will experience a “wound” to its forming self.  Because these infants have already achieved a developmental level where internal representations are forming, both the adequate and the inadequate responses of its caregivers will be built into the infant’s growing storehouse of mental building blocks regarding interactions with others.

On the other hand, the infantile dissociation response appears to happen in the absence of an attachment system.  If an infant experiences chronic traumatic abuse perpetrated against it by its primary caregiver from birth, the normal lines of development that are supposed form a connection between the infant and its burgeoning self will be severed.  These early traumatic events are occurring before the developmental stage of being able to construct mental representations has been reached.  Repeating experiences of trauma that have required the infant to respond to threat of annihilation IN ISOLATION through the utilization of the primitive survival defense of dissociation form a profound dissociational pattern within the infant’s brain that will have extensive ramifications on every level and to every aspect of that child’s future development.

Shame is a diffuse rather than a focused attentional experience.  An infant engulfed in a shame reaction state is forced to experience its emotions as they correspond directly to the infant’s experience of its self as separate and disconnected from its caregiver.  In this state the infant is not focusing its attention on any aspect of resolution of the crisis, but is rather immersed in an affective ocean of the discomforting emotions of separation and isolation.  Its only hope of resolution and salvation lies with its caregiver while the infant must  “wait” in a transitional “depressed” space for something to happen.  There is possibility and at least a glimmer of hope here, but to the infant the outcome is unknown.

An infant who possesses the capacity to experience shame has in the past at least had enough experiences with an attuned caregiver to provide it with some degree of trust that this caregiver will reattune to it if not in the immediate present then at least in the very near future.  An infant who has been forced to utilize dissociation before it has experienced its caregiver attuning to it enough so that the infant can have trust, and therefore expectation or hope of attunement, has been cast alone in a very inadequate boat into a very large sea.

There is still a discrepancy in my mind between the whether or not an infant in a dissociative state is actually FEELING anything related to the trauma it is enduring or not.  The seeming facts of dissociation would indicate that while in a dissociated state the infant has, on some deep and primitive level, all of the energy of hyperarousal available within its body while it is in a suspended attentional state of waiting for death.  But is it numbed or anesthetized against feeling affect?.  The parasympathetic component of the ANS has evidently kicked in so that the overarousal of the body can be negotiated to within a safe survival range, yet not eliminated as it is in the shame state.  I still suspect that the infant is feeling its experience during the episode, but will have no “place” to connect the experience to any other experience once it is over because it has only physiologically been regulted.  The experience will be retained in implicit memory as a state of its own, lacking possibility of integration because it is not connected via MEANING and therefore not in context to any other experience.  It is a missing link of a missing chain left with hundreds or thousands of other separate missing links floating, as it were, in a state of “suspended animation.”  Yet the experiences remain as memories in the body and within the brain as a well traveled pattern of dissociative experience that will allow dissociation to be the primary defense of the future for this infant.  These experiences of trauma are by definition not connected to the “self” of the infant.  They began way before much of a glimmer of a self was developed.  They will not, therefore, become organized or made cohesive or coherent by a “self” that has not access to them.  And the experiences are also correspondingly blocked from having access to a self, either.

Herein, for me at least, still remains a mystery to be solved.  If that is even possible.  Do these dissociational experiences amount to a disorganized school of unidentifiable fish that follow the infant-grown-into-adult’s little boat around for the rest of a lifetime?  Or do they rather link themselves together into some bizarre form of a net that threatens to overwhelm and drown the survivor at any moment?

The experiences happened because there was no available attachment system.  The caregiver who was supposed to rescue the infant instead attempted to destroy it.  Does there exist for these infants a fragile, nearly invisible web of elusive memories from any “adequate” attachment experience that might have occurred at least a FEW times in the infant’s life?  How can an infant obtain access to these memories, let alone preserve them over extensive periods of time?

And is this why I feel so scared and alone, so disconnected and lost, so floating and moorless when I am not “with” the object of my current attachment?  That I have no nurturing, positive attachment representations that I can hold in my mind to sooth myself, to keep me connected even when physical presence is not happening in the now?  Where there should be a sense of connectedness and safety, f trust and knowledge of the certainty that I AM connected – even that I am “connectable” – there is nothing but fear.  A very deep and pervasive sense that I am alone, a knowledge of the certainty that it is a fact, not an illusion, that I am alone.

ALONE may be the single most significant factor of the early infantile dissociative experience.  If, even in the face of trauma there had been ANYBODY there to rescue the infant, the dissociative state would not have had to happen.  It is in the face of the nonexistence of an attachment system that the primitive defense of dissociation would have to be initiated.  When the dissociative experience becomes the underlying state of an infant’s life, then the landscape of its future cannot help but be constructed out of terror and a certain threat that annihilation is most likely a predictable outcome of being alive.  On some level we all know that our demise is an eventuality.  But to live with a constant reminder of this fact, to have to live with the affective experience of knowing our death is impending, depletes an individual of the ability to ever feel the safety of connection with others of their species that will be there if needed to hold the scepter of death at bay.

And not only does it happen that there is no sense that others are connected to assist us through life’s journey, but there is also an absence of a sense of a stable, robust, cohesive self core that will sustain us, either.  All is in shards and fragments.  Instead of hope trust and hope and a sense of security being the glue that holds us and our lives together, there is a horrifying sense of aloneness and disconnection instead.  There is pain and rage and hopeless despair.  With having survived perpetual, pervasive, overwhelming trauma there is only knowledge that the world is not safe and we are not safe in it.  You can paint the brick any color you wish, but the fact remains that at the center the brick is still cinder.  And still the only way these feelings can be pushed into an illusion of fading or obliteration is for me to be with my attachment person. It is the only thing that could have saved me THEN and it still feels like it is the only thing that could possibly save me now.  Otherwise I am just left with always knowing that I am so terribly and permanently alone.  It isn’t that I need someone to fix me or to save me.  I just need to KNOW that I am not alone.  I need to be able to connect the reality with the thought with the feeling with the awareness with the consciousness with the actuality with the fact – that I am not alone.

It then becomes that my chosen attachment figure becomes the designated driver of my well-being.  I do not have the requisite mental representations to serve as transitional invisible, intangible carriers of my own intelligence – than I am OK.  I need the constant reassurance of physical contact.  But like the space between the fingers in the Sistine chapel’s painting by Michelangelo, the gap can never be closed. Or can it?  If it ever is, I will KNOW it with every aspect of my being.  I only know that it hasn’t happened yet.

It tempts me to say at this point that if nothing changes for me in this regard, at the moment I am dead and on the other side I would look back at this lifetime here on earth and say, “I was never really there.”  This makes me really sad.

There has to be an initial UNION in order for a separation to be possible afterwards.  I have always suspected that I never truly separated from mother as a child.  Maybe the experience was more accurately that I never UNIFIED with her because she could not attune to me.  Or, that there were a few rare occurrences when she DID attune and/or resonate with me – or appear to – and these events were enough to “convince” me that I WAS separate and distinct from her on some permanent and fundamental level.

But how painful is that?  To discover that one is separate, and then not ever have the experience of “re-joining” or “re-linking” with another person?  Did I only have this separate experience once I reached the locomotion stage?  When I physically was capable of moving away from her?  It is hard to know to what extent an infant can go to establish a sense of connectivity with its caregiver.  What place does YEARNING have in this whole picture?



“The importance of experienced, regulated (as opposed to bypassed, unregulated) shame to ongoing development (Shane, 1980; Ward, 1972) may lie in its role as a socializing agent. Measured, repeated exposures to limitation may (Schore/ar/171) dilute primary infantile narcissism and neutralize primitive aggressive drives, especially during the narcissistic crisis.  Mahler (1979) noted that a surplus of unneutralized aggression thwarts favorable development.  Parens (1980) described the upsurge in aggressive drive that occurs specifically in the practicing phase, and Kagan (1976) characterized “separation protest” that peaks at 12 months and diminishes between 15 to 24 months (rapprochement).  In a study of 13-month-old infants, Izard found that the dominant, typical negative emotional response to brief separation at this age is anger, not sadness, and not “separation anxiety” (Schiller, Izard, & Hembree, 1986).  Bowlby (1969a) observed a “bitter” separation protest as a response to a broken attachment tie, which Lewis (1985) specifically equated with “shame-rage” (humiliated fury).  Willock (1986) observed the phenomenon of narcissistic vulnerability in hyperaggressive children.  (Schore/ar/172)”

I would suspect that this anger and bitterness comes from having a sense of self, and that a perceived injury is a result of having a self to do the perceiving with – having access to a self perspective, a self platform.

“It is proposed that these phenomena commonly reflect “narcissistic rage,” the unmodulated, overexcited sympathetic arousal triggered by object loss, which is characteristic of this period…. At this age, the infant can not yet autoregulate this state, as it propels him/her into extremely high levels of arousal in excess of his/her optimal activation band, and is therefore beyond his/her active coping capacities….. This unregulated hyperstimulated condition consequently precipitates an explosive (as opposed to shame-induced implosive) self-fragmentation.  (Schore/ar/172)”

Once a child becomes ambulatory there must be a stage where balance and equilibrium between self and others is established.  The both being with another and being a separate being, being connected and being autonomous.  This state continuum must get larger and larger as we grow and develop, but remains always on some level deeply connected to our ANS and its reactions and functioning.

“Fox and Davidson (1984) asserted that a major developmental milestone occurs in the middle of the second yer (practicing/rapprochement onset).  At this time a system of affect regulation emerges with the capacity for inhibition of distress and other negative affects….”control/delay/inhibition processes” (affect regulatory processes) are involved in the expansion of the affect array.  This principle may be demonstrated in the transformation of diffuse, explosive rage of the infant into focused and modulated anger.  In a classic study of the early expressions of aggression within the first 2 years of life, Goodenough (1931) reported a developmental transition from frustration-induced anger manifested as tantrums, undirected energy, and outbursts of motor activity into directed motor and language responses.  The initiation of the modulation of this negative/active affect during the late-practicing/early-rapprochement period (Settlage, 1977) reflects the onset of functional activity of shame regulator’s control of sympathetic, hyperaroused limbic aggressive states and may underly [sic] “the transformation of narcissistic rage into mature aggression (Kohut, 1978b, p. 649).  (Schore/ar/172)”

“Furthermore, the emergence of evocative memory (Fraiberg, 1969) at the practicing rapprochement border an only be maintained if preexisting forms of infantile rage can be regulated (Adler & Buie, 1979).  During this developmental period the child’s anger “interferes with the capability to maintain a sense of the good internal object image during the mother’s absence, so that the serene state of mind implied in the capacity to be alone (Winnicott, 1958) (Schore/ar/172) is frequently not attainable.  This ability to be alone includes the sense of being alone with an ego supportive other, and this image is not available at times of anger or frustration” (Wagner & Fine, 1981,p. 11).  (Schore/ar/173)”

There must be other things that can interfere with this capability to maintain a sense of the good internal object image – like never having had one in the first place.  If one does not have a good mother, therefore lacks a good internal object image, one will not have a serene state of mind when alone.  If one does not have the capacity to be alone, they do not have the serene state of mind implied by having this same capacity.

So evidently, I do not have the capacity to be alone – because I certainly do not have a serene state of mind.  That state of mind must be about being able to maintain homestatic equilibrium when being alone.

  1. Wallace (1963) noted that, in adults there is an association between shame predominance (unregulated shame) and a “deficiency of introjects.”   Morrison (1989) highlighted the relationship of shame to “faulty identity-formation,” and Spero (1984) observed that shame-prone personalities manifest “deficits in capacity for internalization.”…. the stress of frustration (as outlined earlier in shame) is requisite to the child’s internalization of dyadic object relations sequences and the construction of internalized working models of attachment in episodic memory.  (Schore/ar/173)”

Unmodulated hyperaroused manic affect is known to interfere with learning and memory processes…and to specifically disrupt long-term memory processes, particularly retrieval….extremely high arousal levels of unregulated, self-fragmenting narcissistic rage disrupt identification processes critical to the resolution of the rapprochement crisis.  This phenomenon is reflected in McDevitt’s (1975) demonstration of prolonged sates of unmetabolized aggression producing “interferences with identification” in this critical period.  (Schore/ar/173)”

Would it be possible for some other emotion other than anger produce this same hyperaroused manic affect state?  What about terror?  I know I had some form of a disruption with my memory processes like this he is describing: disrupt long-term memory processes, particularly retrieval.  Was I angry at mother?  I know she spoke ever after of the incident when I was 2 when grandma had come to visit and she sent me to my room, and I pounded my fists on the hallway wall all the way to my room.  What kind of a display of anger was that?  And how did I dare?  Just because grandmother was there?  Yet mother never let me forget the incident all the way until I left home.

“This critical import of shame regulation of hyperaroused, grandiose practicing affect to identification processes also applies to emerging gender identification that is actively occurring at 18 months (Money & Ehrhardt, 1968), rapprochement onset.  (Schore/ar/173)” [He is talking here specifically about female gender recognition, though I don’t know why]

“Furthermore, the narcissistic mother either overstimulates or does not modulate her infant’s high-arousal grandiose affect…..(Schore/ar/173)”

He seems to be saying something about how a girl has to have her shame adequately modulated so that she can in a parallel process form identification with the mother – and herself as a female.  I guess this process would be different for boys!

“As pointed out earlier, in addition to the shame experience and its consequent affective misattunement, the caregiver’s response of deactivating and subsequently reactivating sympathetic arousal is critical to the organization of a system to regulate the negative effect of shame (i.e., the shame regulator).  Thus, at the critical period of the practicing/rapprochement boundary, a favorable resolution of the narcissistic (rapprochement) crisis and the emergence of a system to regulate narcissistic affects depends on the emergence, by the end of the practicing phase, of an internalized, efficient, affect-autoregulatory system that can bidirectionally modulate the high-arousal affects intrinsic to the grandiose, narcissistically charged practicing stage, even in the caregiver’s absence.  This mechanism underlies Freud’s (1923/1961b) observation that by both frustrating and satisfying the infant in the correct proportion, the mother facilitates the transformation of the pleasure into the reality principle.  (Schore/ar/174)”

This makes me wonder what the connection is between pretend mode functioning and the “pleasure principle.”  Schore is not talking specifically about mentalizing at this stage, though he is talking about mental representations and identifications.  Schore is not talking about how the infant is learning to “read” its mother’s mind at this stage.  Too bad….just more work for me in having to put these disparate treatises together.

Yet I know that they are talking specifically of failures “to downregulate the high arousal affects that fuel the “fantastic” grandiose self. (Schore/ar/175)”


“Spitz (1964) described a type of “psychotoxic” maternal care, manifest in an overdose of affective stimulation, that is dispensed by the narcissistic mother who is concerned more with her own emotional needs than her infant’s.  (Schore/ar/174)”

Of course the anti would just go up more when the mother, like mine did, cannot separate realities, and acts toward the child as if the child were a projection of her own imbalanced and tortured psyche.

“In early development, preoedipal caregivers serve as selfobjects, specifically to perform psychological [and physiological] functions “such as tension management and self-esteem regulation that the infant is unable to perform for himself” (Glassman, 1988, p. 601).  This developmental principle underlies the clinical transferential phenomenon of the uneasy dependence of the narcissistic patient on the psychotherapist for self-esteem regulation and the stabilization of narcissistic equilibrium (Bleiberg, 1987), thus promoting the clinician’s critical role as an “auxiliary superego” (Strachey, 1934).  Self object functions are specifically and exclusively unconscious, nonverbal affect regulatory functions that stabilize self-structure against the hyperstimulated-explosive fragmenting or hypostimulated-implosive depleting potential of stressful levels of stimulation and affect.  An effective structural superego system to autoregulate mood and narcissistic affects, which is required for self-esteem homeostasis and for restoration and recovery of narcissistic equilibrium subsequent to affective stress and narcissistic injury, never ontogenetically evolves.  Kernberg (1984) and Tyson and Tyson (1984) emphasized the clinical observation that superego pathology plays a central role in narcissistic disturbances.  (Schore/ar/176)”

At this moment I have this sense:  “If I try to bend over to touch the finger of another person I will lose my balance and fall over.”

That makes me wonder if I developed my sense of center to be a place where I am alone, where there is no-body there – if my point of equilibrium and homeostasis, my point of familiar stability is in that aloneness.  That would mean that it also the rigidity of my internal system that causes me to feel so alone.  If I were, then, able to reach for more flexibility I could do that bending and not fall – or if my “center” could move or change.

Like a teeter-totter – move the fulcrum point, change the balance point, etc.

“The essential psychological lesion in these individuals (as well as in borderline personalities who also manifest a heightened vulnerability to shame and a failure to self regulate emotional experience; Grotstein, 1990) is that they do not have the capacity to tolerate or recover from narcissistic injuries that expose distressing negative affect, especially hyperaroused affects like narcissistic rage and hypoaroused shame, while maintaining constructive engagement with others.  The coping ability to affectively reconnect with an emotionally significant other after a shame-stress separation, and indeed to sue the other to recover from shame associated narcissistic injury and object loss, have never effectively (Schore/ar/176) developed in this personality structure due to its early practicing experiences.  Narcissistic disorders are thus disorders of the regulation of narcissistic affect, especially shame, the central affective experience of narcissism (Broucek, 1982; Kinston, 1983; Morrison, 1989), and their pathology is most observable during times of stress of narcissistic affect.  Self-regulatory failure has recently been proposed to be responsible for the “affectomotor lability” of narcissistic disorders (Rinsley, 1989).  (Schore/ar/177)”

“Despite thisinefficient capacity to autoregulate distress, during periods of stress, when it may be more adaptive to communicate one’s disorganized affective state to a significant other, such individuals emotionally withdraw from object relations in order to protect against the unconsciously anticipated painful exposure of shame-humiliation.  Shame-prone narcissistic personalities are known to suffer from narcissistic injury-triggered, overwhelming, internal self-shaming tendencies (Morrison, 1984) and repetitive oscillations of self-esteem, which necessitate “endless attempts at repair” (Reich, 1960)….When a narcissistically undesirable trait is suddenly exposed (to the self and/or the other), an uncontrolled escalating shame reaction occurs, and there is no adequate affect-regulating mechanism for the personality to use to modulate or recover from this painful affective state.  [I would think different than, say, dismissive people who just vanquish themselves from the experience of emotions.] Without a system to actively cope with and thereby tolerate this potent affect, the immature, undeveloped, archaic superego avoids risk experiences that are potential points of shameful self-exposure, thereby diminishing the expansion and the province of the ego ideal.  (Schore/ar/177)”


“Under optimal growth conditions a developmental transformation of narcissism occurs:  The omnipotence and grandiosity of the psychic system of primary narcissism, the ideal ego, is diminished in the narcissistic crises, giving way to the dominant emergence of the system of secondary narcissism, the nascent ego ideal. The ego ideal has been conceptualized to have its origins in early introjection of the idealized loved and loving omnipotent mother (if the child has had such an experience). As a result of this internalization, “internal regulation of self-esteem becomes possible for the first time” (Parkin, 1985, p. 147).  The function of the ego ideal, a system by which the self measures itself, is in general similar to other self-regulatory systems that modulate the internal milieu and stabilize the relationship between the organism and the internal environment.  However, in particular it acts to autoregulate narcissistic (Schore/ar/177) affects that underlie self-esteem, thereby sustaining autonomous emotional control, especially in response to social-environmental induced affective stress.  (Schore/ar/178)”

“Blos (1974) characterized the ego ideal as a controlling agency that regulates maintenance of self-esteem and narcissistic balance.  “Fulfillment of the ideal results in an increase of self-esteem, while a failure to meet the standards of the ideal [shame] results in a decrease in self-esteem” (Turiell, 1967).  Self-esteem has been conceptualized as an “affective picture of the self,” with high self-esteem connoting a predominance of positive affects and low self-esteem connoting a predominance of negative ones (Pulver, 1970).  Stolorow and Lachmann defined narcissism functionally:  “Mental activity is narcissistic to the degree that its function is to maintain the structural cohesion, temporal stability and positive affective coloring of the self representation” (1980, p. 10).  The maintainence [sic] of narcissistic equilibrium, a functional role of the superego (Tyson & Tyson, 1984), is manifest in the ego ideal regulation of narcissistic affect that underlies self-esteem.  Self-esteem regulation has been identified as a function of the superego system (Josephs, 1989; Kernberg, 1984), and Nathanson (1987) described the superego as functionally capable of processing “minute gradations of self esteem.”  Pulver (1970) noted that the maintainance [sic] of self-esteem is the personality’s best protection against narcissistic vulnerability and shame propensity.  The functioning of the ego ideal is thus intimately tied into the ego mechanism of episodic memory, which stores events that have meaning for the concept of self and are significant for the maintenance of self-esteem (Tulving, 1972).  (Schore/ar/178)”

++ episodic memory is an ego mechanism which stores events that have meaning for the concept of self and are significant for the maintenance of self-esteem

“The ego ideal, which originates at the end of the practicing period, [or is supposed to!] allows for a successful transition through the rapprochement crisis via its mediation in the efficient regulation of high andlow arousal states.  “brickmannoted, “The evolution of a properly functioning superego system maybe seen to be contingent on the successful resolution  of developmental … issues: (1983, p. 90), and Grotstein (1983) referred to the critical importance of the establishment of a particular internal object to the function of the superego/ego ideal.  The work presented here specifically outlines the importance of shame in the genesis of the evolving superego.  Notice a psychological function (affect regulation) that is externally regulated in one phase is internalized and autoregulated in the succeeding phase.  The ego ideal, a narcissistic component of the superego along with the conscience (Hartmann & Lowenstein, 1962), contains grandiose fantasies and ideals and a “core of narcissistic omnipotence (which)…represents the sum of the positive identifications with the parental images: (Piers & Singer, 1953, p. 14).  These latter authors also theorized that it contains the goals of striving for mastery, or a “maturation drive,” which “would signify a psychic representation of all the growth, maturation, and individuation processes in the human being” (p. 15).  (Schore/ar/178).”

“From a sociological viewpoint, Scheff (1988) pointed out that this affect [shame], the primary social emotion, though it is usually almost invisible, is generated by the virtually constant monitoring of the self in relation to others.  Shame is typically triggered by incompetence (White, 1960) and the concomitant threat of abandonment or rejection by the “significant object” (Levin, 1967), and is thus the affective response to the self’s failure to approximate its ideal state of maximized positive and minimized negative narcissistic affect when contrasted to the current level of the actual state.  (Schore/ar/179).”

“The ontogenetic origin of shame similarly involves an appraisal process in which a discrepancy exists between the memory of the caregiver in an ideal, attuned, positive affective state and the perception of the reality of a misattuned mother in a negative affective state.  Though the developmental origin of the negative evaluation of the self that produces shame arises from the interpersonal failure of expectation (excited anticipation), shame later occurs when certain intrapersonal self-expectation (goals), the predominantly unconscious standards of the ego ideal, are not fulfilled.  (Schore/ar/179).”

“This ubiquitous [constantly encountered] primary social emotion in which one is visible and not ready to be visible (Erikson, 1950) operates subtly in even the healthiest of human interactions (Kaufman, 1974).  This misattuned relational transaction triggers gaze aversion (Tomkins, 1963), a response ofhiding the face “to escape from this being seen or from the one who sees” (Wright, 1991, p. 30), and a state of withdrawal (Lichtenberg, 1989)…..Shame throws a “flodding light” upon the individual (Lynd, 1958), who then experiences “a sense of displeasure plus the compelling desire to disappear from view” (Frijda, 1988,p. 351), and “an impulse to bury one’s face, or to sink, right then and there, into the ground” (Erikson, 1950, p. 223) which impels him to “crawl through a hole” and culminates in feeling as if he “could die” (H.B.Lewis, 1971, p. 198).  (Schore/ar/179)”

“The sudden shock-induced deflation of positive affect which supports grandiose omnipotence has been phenomenologically characterized as a whirlpool – a visual representation of a spiral (Potter-Effron, 1989) and as a “flowing off” or “leakage” through a drain hole in the middle of one’s being (Sarte, 1957, p. 256).  The individual’s subjective conscious experience of this affect is thus a sudden, unexpected, and rapid transition from what Freud (1914/1957b) (Schore/ar/179) called “primary narcissism” – a sense of being “the center and core of the universe,” to what Sarte (1957) described as a shame triggered “crack in my universe.  (Schore/ar/180).”

“Furthermore, the unique potency of this bodily-based [Aren’t all affects bodily-based?] negative affect has been described by Tomkins (1963):

Though terror speaks of life and death and distress makes of the world a vale of tears, yet shame strikes deepest into the heart of man.  While terror and distress hurt, they are wounds inflicted from outside which penetrate the smooth surface of the ego; but shame is felt as an inner torment, a sickness of the soul.  It does not matter whether the humiliated one has been shamed by derisive laughter or whether he mocks himself.  In either event he feels himself naked, defeated, alienated, lacking in dignity or worth.  (p. 118)  (Schore/ar/180)”


“Amsterdam and Leavitt (1980) equated it [shame] with painful, heightened self-consciousness.  Campos and his colleagues (1983) posited that it results from injury to any salient aspect of one’s self-concept….Shame stress, a social “microstressor” of daily living, like physical injury and pain, activates a classical stress response; the physiological expression of physical and mental pain is thus identical.  Work on brain opioids and social emotions suggests that visceral pain and the affective response to social isolation share common evolutionary histories and neurochemical substrates (Panksepp, Siviy, & Normansell, 1985).  (Schore/ar/180)”


“…earlier origin of the ego ideal component before the conscience component of the superego…Kagan’s developmental study of preverbal 2-eyar-olds in which he concluded, “The appearance ofinternal standards is not a late development that occurs after the child learns to fear adult punishment, but is present early in ontogeny.  These first standards are concerned with task competence” (1979, p. 1053).  Note that these internal (Schore/ar/180)standards are preverbal, supporting the concept that the preverbal ego ideal forms before the verbal conscience.  Early superego function is first manifested at 18 months (the practicing/rapprochement boundary), when toddlers begin to exhibit “moral” prosocial behavior in the form of approaching persons in distress and initiating positive, other-oriented, affective, and instrumental activities in order to comfort the other (Radke-Yarrow & Zahn-Waxler, 1984). (Schore/ar/181)”

I think the primates do the same….

“Although the content of the ego ideal is modified throughout development (aspirations are altered and what triggers shame changes), its homeostatic function of narcissistic affect regulation in infancy, childhood adolescence, and adulthood is not [modified].  ….Although ego ideal content (i.e., self-representations and images in episodic memory) may not reflect complex identifications and “definitive organization” until adolescence (Blos, 1974), the basic mechanism underlying its functional onset and therefore its origin traces directly back to the early separation individuation period.  Indeed, Blos dated the origin of the infantile ego ideal at the age of attainment of object constancy, 18 months; this coincides with the rapprochement crisis genesis outline earlier.  (Schore/ar/181)”

So we get this ego ideal, with its homeostatic function, at 18 months.  The self, therefore, seems to require the capacity to experience shame in order to form.  There can be no capacity to experience shame if there has not been an experience with a predictable caregiver that will enable the infant to have the expectation that upon return to the caregiver that person will most likely respond to it in a positive manner.  No expectation, no shame.  This is a very big piece of development to be missing.

And if one is deprived of accomplishing adequate separation and reunion with a caregiver, how is one supposed to acquire a “serenity of mind” when alone?  There are processes that are supposed to happen properly and in proper developmental order for this state to arise.  In a secure attachment setting, this would normally lead to autonomy.  Without it, something else must happen.

While the ability to experience a serene mind is evidently our genetic evolutionary birthright, early infant experiences can remove this ability from us and place it out of our reach.  Whether we end up retaining this ability depends upon our early interactions with our caregivers.  It is not handed to all of us equally upon a silver platter, nor are we all born with this silver spoon in our mouths.  It is a “have” and a “have not” situation.  If our primary caregiver had this ability, then their interactions with us enabled us to develop the experience of serenity of mind.  Our neuro-biological-physiological brain and nervous system set point, our tipping point, the neurochemical switch between our sympathetic and parasympathetic components of our nervous systems have a point of homeostatic equilibrium calibrated to operate from this point of serenity.

If, on the other hand, our caregivers responded to us in far less than optimal ways, our set point for what is “normal” is not where it is supposed to be.  And because every component of our body, brain, mind and self is governed by where this balance point is – or is not – every aspect of who we are, how we experience life, what gives us pleasure or gives us pain, what things mean to us, what arouses and stimulates us and to what degree, how we take care of ourselves, how we relate to others and the world around us, is different.

I don’t think, for me, that it has ever been about the supposedly co-dependent issue of “guessing what normal is.”  The challenge has been to find out what is normal for me, and to determine how this compares to what appears as being normal to the majority – albeit barely a majority – of the other members of my species and the members of my culture and society.  In this process I am learning what is optimal.  That is governed by our evolutionary heritage.

The development of the human brain, mind and self is calibrated to occur specifically in relation to and with the mother, not the father.  Just because our way of life in this century mandates that we alter what is “natural” does not make it optimal.  Evolution carries the weight, not what we might think, want or do today.  It is our mother’s reactions and interactions with us that make us who we are, and that is the central, fundamental determiner of how our genetic potential manifests itself.

When we dissociate during a traumatic experience, our reptilian brain is the designated driver.  When and if we progress as infants to the locomotive stage and can begin to come and go to and from our mother’s presence, and we begin to experience a self separate from her, the shame reaction that is orchestrated by the mammalian brain takes over.  Through the negotiation of our own self-love and self-interests in relationship to and with our mother and other aspects of the external environment that we encounter during the separation and individuation stages of our early and late toddler months, we are supposed to develop an adequate, positive, and balanced self and sense of our self in relation to the environment.

When things go right we obtain positive self-esteem.  When things go wrong we develop negative self-esteem.   But at least under either of these conditions we at least acquire a self.  If things are terribly and irrevocably wrong, we develop only a fragmented rather than a cohesive self.  And if trauma rules the roost from the time of our birth through at least the ensuing next 18 months of our lives, we develop no self at all.  It is of this last category that I am placing myself.  The abuse that was done to me not only lasted the first 18 months of my life, it lasted the first 18 YEARS of my life.  And believe me, that was a very long time.

If we have gotten what nature requires for us to have in order to become fully functioning members of our species, as adults we can practice being human like an expert, skilled surgeon practices medicine.  If we don’t get what we need, we practice being adults like a first grader practices playing the piano.  We create our experts at being human, we create our mediocre novices, and we create those who don’t have the slightest clue what being human is all about.

We are entering an enlightening social phase by beginning to recognize and apply the new information that technological advances (and hard scientific effort) is giving us about our brains and minds.  Because we are mostly extremely lazy, we might be tempted to take the tiny snippets of information that the media dispenses to us between advertisements, to be the whole truth.  I issue a warning.  180 million years of evolutionary complexity cannot be distilled down into a snippet.  We cannot see this whole picture through the eye of a needle.  While we are being told now that our brains are extremely plastic and capable of great adaptations and changes, that our thoughts can change our brain’s structure, that the brain can replace its nerve cells which we never thought possible – please take this information with the proverbial grain of salt.

For those people who were fortunate enough to have received “good enough” parenting so that they experienced a securely attached system that operated from birth to form them into secure, autonomous adults with a set point of balance in the correct evolutionarily-determined position, that can truly operate from a point of positively balanced self-esteem in relation to themselves and the world around them, that experience normal as a serene state of mind, then taking this new brain information and applying it to your lives will be of immediate benefit.  I liken these people to children playing with a teaspoon in a sandbox.  They can move that sand around in small doses and create for themselves results that follow what they desire, decide and determine.

Then there are the rest of us existing on a continuum from just barely insecure in our adjustments to those of us humans who do not have the first clue what being human is all about.  Now if you imagine gradations from the sandbox analogy up to the image of Mt. Everest, you will be able to follow my next thought.  There are those of us for whom the possibility of self-administering brain science discoveries to change our selves and our lives would be as possible as it would be to move Mt. Everest and place it safely in lower Manhattan.

“Easier read or said than done,” is the simplest way to put it.  We can never assume that just because we feel that we are OK within ourselves that the people next to us feel the same way about themselves.  Some of us have been truly fundamentally, irrevocably and devastatingly damaged.   In the worst-case scenarios it would take as much effort for these people to change themselves to approximate normal as it would be to move Mt. Everest to Manhattan.  If you don’t believe me, try being them for a day.  “Clear as mud” only gets worse in a rainstorm, and I don’t care how many storm sewers you install, some things just will not wash away.

We do not possess nor can we simply buy effective magic wands.  We cannot pursue with any confidence of success the alchemists’ dream of turning lead into gold.  And if water is to be turned into wine we know it will be done only with a great deal of hard work.


Do I now have “dead spots” that I have created in my attempt to negotiate my emotional territory in this relationship with Ernie?  Are they the equivalent of “dead spots” within myself where I no longer allow the circulation of emotions to penetrate or circulate?  Do these become like poisoned places in a lawn where a buildup of toxicity has killed the life, so that as with flesh, gangrene can or will set in?

Is there another way I can adapt to this situation that would be better?  I do not seem to have skills and abilities to negotiate relationship terrain, nor to I have access to a detailed map of any aspect of the relationship territory – internally or externally.  I have no instruction manual, either.  I am stumbling around in the dark in unfamiliar territory without sight or guide.

How do I identify and assess priorities?  How do I determine direction and action?  How do I adapt or adjust flexibly, appropriately and adequately?  How do I achieve the same happiness when I am alone that I have when I am by his side?

When a person is traveling in territory that is familiar to them, they do not need a map or directions or signs to point the way.


I think that the only way I survived and endured was through fierce determination!  That is probably true for anybody who made it through the impossible!  Is that related to aggression or anger?  Aggression for our own sake?


The necessity for a psychic structural system to autoregulate affect, shame, and self-esteem is required from toddlerhood through adulthood, and its existence and availability depends on early object-relations experiences in the practicing-critical period.  (Schore/ar/181)”



“The self-regulatory ego ideal, a stress-sensitive coping system involved in modulation of affects by “toning down” intense “all good” (positive hedonic tone) or “all bad” (negative hedonic tone) affective dispositions (Garza-Guerrero, 1981), (modulating “splitting defenses”) is here proposed to be an affect-regulatory system that monitors, adjusts, and corrects emotional responses, thereby providing flexibility and unity in socioemotional function.  (Schore/ar/181)”

“Modulating splitting defenses:  something mother could not do.  Bateman talks about idealizing and denigrating tendencies in borderlines – the “all good” and the “all bad.”  I was the all bad child and Cindy was the all good one.  She did not posses this self-regulatory stress-sensitive coping system to modulate her affects – to tone down either aspect, positive or negative.

“…negative affect regulating system that first appears in the middle of the second year.  The ego ideal shame regulator is composed of two components that control the biphasic process of narcissistic affect regulation.  The functional operation of this structural system is relevant to the process by which shame plays a central role in maintaining narcissistic equilibrium (Kohut, 1971).  The shame stimulator component acutely reduces hyperaroused and hyperstimulated states; diminishes positive narcissistic affective coloring of self-representations; contracts the self [whatever this means] ; lowers expectations; decreases self-esteem, active coping, interest, and curiosity; interferes with cognition; and increases overt consciously experienced shame, parasympathetic supported passive coping, blushing, gaze aversion, and depressive affect-toned mood. (Schore/ar/181)”

“The second component, the shame modulator, reduces consciously experienced shame (narcissistic pain), negative affective self-representations, low-keyed (Schore/ar/181) depressive states, and passive coping, and initiates recovery of sympathetic-supported positive hedonic-toned mood and narcissistic affect, facilitation of the cathexis of the self-representation, expansion of the self, increased self-esteem, and active stress-coping capacitiesThis dual-component, dual-process system thus homeostatically reestablishes an optimal sympathetic-parasympathetic limbic balance of autonomic-affective functioning, (autonomic balance underlying an optimal level of emotionality), thereby maintaining self-identity and self-continuity in the face of continuously changing external environmental conditions.  (Schore/ar/182)”

So where in the world are we when this system has not been created correctly and does not operate correctly?  NOT in good shape?  It makes me feel so sad and hopeless!!

“…the infant’s early object relations with the mother are indispensable to the development and organization of psychic structure responsible for self-regulation and adaptation [and I would add, responsible for us being able to be a fully operational member of our own species – to connect at all, to have a self at all, to be anything less than internally absolutely alone.] Studies in developmental neuroscience reveal that the stupendous accelerated growth of brain structure in infancy is critical influenced by “social forces” (Lecours, 1982), and it has been suggested that the neurodevlopmental [sic] processes that are responsible for postnatal structural brain growth are influenced by events at the interpersonal and intrapersonal levels (Scheflen, 1981).  The critical nature of early socioemotional experiences may lie in their effects of enhancing or inhibiting the maturation of adaptive self-regulating systems, especially limbic and cortical structures that anatomically and physiologically mature during particular periods of infancy, and the subsequent socioemotional functions that these structures will subserve.  (Schore/ar/182)”

“Utilizing a neuropsychoanalytic perspective, it is suggested that the psychoanalytic ego ideal can be identified as an affect-regulatory structure with the orbital prefrontal cortex.  This cortical inhibitory system is expanded in the right hemisphere and has extensive limbic connections; regulated emotion…attachment behavior…and aggression; and influences parasympathetic and sympathetic autonomic function.  The rapid growth and development of this prefrontal system during the first 18 months of [sic] [life] is critically influenced by early “social context” (Luria, 1980), and its maturation enables the self-modulation of arousal in late infancy (Bowden, Goldman, Rosvold, & Greenstreet, 1971).  During the practicing critical period, shame experiences associated with the socialization process specifically influence the maturation of this superego affect-regulatory system.  (Schore/ar/182)”


“Pine states, “The awareness of separateness…culminates in the rapprochement stage, in sadness or depressive mood” (1980, p. 227).  [Yes, and the fundamental experience of this state of being separate – the awareness of separateness which is aloneness – is rooted not only in sadness and depressive mood, but in hopeless despair.] Noting the transition from the “good mood” of the practicing period to the lingering depressive (Schore/ar/182) mood of rapprochement, [establishment of a state of cordial or friendly relations] McDevitt asserted, “Thoughts and feelings persist beyond the situation in which they had their origin.  Conflicts with the mother no longer simply flare up and disappear; they appear to continue in the child’s mind for longer periods of time” (1975, p. 728).  (Schore/ar/183)”

mood defined as “a general enduring highly persistent state of affect”  (Schore/ar/183)”

Jacobsen (1964, P. 133) quoted in (Schore/ar/183):  “…any pathology and deficiency of the superego functions will manifest itself in conspicuous disturbances of the mood level.”

“…the mature superego…is fundamentally to regulate affect.  (Schore/ar/183)”

The hallmark of a developmentally and functionally evolved superego, which is often too narrowly defined in terms of cognitive and verbal aspects of conscience, is reflected in mood stability and a relatively rapid recovery from disruptive emotional distress states to positively toned emotional states.  On the other hand, a developmentally and functionally immature superego, especially under narcissistic stress, would manifest a tendency to easily slip from a positive or neutral state into a negative emotional state.  These negative emotional states endure well beyond the precipitating stimulus event as a lingering dysphoric mood.  (Schore/ar/183)”

“Structural defects in the undeveloped superego are particularly exposed under high pressure.  Su- (Schore/ar/183) perego lacunae [related in origins to lagoon; a gap, a blank space or missing part; deficiency] (Aldrich, 1987) and the failure of internal controls to regulate internal aggressive impulses will form a response to intense, unmodulated stress states.  Superego dysfunction is thus manifest in impaired affect regulation as found, for example, in affective disturbances (Giovacchini, 1979) and mood disorders, as well as in self-esteem pathology as found in narcissistic and borderline patients.  Eisnitz noted, “Rapid shifts in self-esteem may be an indicator of superego function dominated by highly aggressivized and libidinized energy” (1988, p. 156).  (Schore/ar/184)”

“I suggest that this symptomatology reflects an unevolved, inefficient ego ideal shame regulator that is unable to modulate these hyperenergetic states….a lack of superego integration is diagnostic of narcissistic and borderline personality organizations, and with his clinical postulate that as a “criterion for the indication or contraindication of long-term, intensive psychotherapy…the quality of object relations and the quality of superego functioning are probably the two most important prognositic criteria” (1984, p. 21).  However, the focus should be shifted from the later-forming conscience component and guilt to the developmentally earlier ego ideal and its associated superego affect, shame.  (Schore/ar/184)”

“The essential psychological (and biochemical) lesions of disorders of affective functioning are found in structurally unevolved, physiologically altered, inefficient prefrontal regulatory systems that impair active recovery processes.  Self-regulatory failure has been proposed to be responsible for the pathological “affectomotor lability” of narcissistic disorders (Rinsley, 1989), and to be the proximal cause of depressive disorders (Morris, 1989; Pyszcznski & Greenberg, 1987).  Patients with cyclothmic and dysthymic affective pathology recover more slowly from negative life events than do normals (Goplerud & Depue, 1985).  These regulatory impairments are manifest very early in specific vulnerable critical periods.  For example, a generalized disturbance in affect regulation, as reflected in long-enduring negative affective states, which is identifiable at 12 months and increases to prominence by 18 months (the span of the practicing period), has been found in infants of manic-depressive parents (Gaensbauer [sic no comma] Harmon, Cytryn, & McKnew, 1984).  (Schore/ar/184)”

“With the practicing-rapprochement transition, a period in which attachment ties with the mother are loosened…yet attachment intensity to the father is significantly increased (Abelin, 1971), the practicing subphase-specific, obligatory, and dominant mood of elation is supplanted by the subphase-specific mood of rapprochement, soberness, and even temporary depression.  Notice the typical high-arousal affect of the “elated” practicing subphase versus the low-arousal, “depressed” affect of the rapprochement phase.  At reunion, the practicing caregiver is predominantly regulating an elated junior toddler; the rapprochement caregivers are generally regulating a senior toddler who is in a very different mood state, low energy and deflated.  Again, it should be remembered that emotional distress can take the form of hyperaroused or hypoaroused affects.  The “affective climate” of the two (Schore/ar/184) subphases is qualitatively very different, both in terms of the predominant affective valence and in terms of the tempo (arousal level) of the predominant emotional state.  Practicing elation, characterized as positive/active, is supplanted by rapprochement depression, which is negative/passive.  (Schore/ar/185)”

hemispheric lateralization of emotions

“”Nameless shame” (Kohut, 1977), which originates in the sensorimotor nonverbal practicing period, and the ego ideal component of the superego are both operative at this transitional point in development.  However, guilt, which first emerges in the verbal child, and the conscience component, which relies on the internalization of verbal, moral values and parental standards, do not first appear until the end of rapprochement/beginning of the phallic stage (i.e., Mahler’s fourth subphase and Piaget’s first stage of preoperational representations; Izard, 1978; Pine, 1980, Sroufe, 1979)…..Krystal’s (1978) differentiation of two lines  of emotional development, an infantile nonverbal affect system and a verbal adult system; he specifically cited guilt as an “adult type of affect.”  (Schore/ar/185)”

“Similarly, in the neuroscience literature, Gazzaniga (1985) postulated the existence of two affect-mediating systems, a basic primitive system and a verbal-conceptual system, that are localized in separate hemispheres.  Neuropsychological research with very young children has indicated early autonomous affective as well as cognitive functioning of the two hemispheres.  I propose that the earlier development of nonverbal shame and the ego ideal before verbal guilt and conscience reflects the known biologically determined earlier differentiation and functional onset of the nonverbal visuospatial-holistic right hemisphere…and the later maturation of the linguistic-rational capacity of the verbal analytic left hemisphere….Indeed, a developmental neuropsychological study (Rothbart, Taylor, & Tucker, 1989) of practicing infants has revealed that right, but not left, hemispheric specialization for emotions begins at the end of the first year, with greater right hemispheric cortical inhibition of subcortical emotional processes.  In contrast, Thatcher, Walker, and Giudice (1987) showed that the left hemisphere growth spurt does not begin until age 2.  (Schore/ar/185)”

“…research on hemispheric lateralization of emotions reveals the existence of dual affective systems, a right hemisphere system dominant for nonverbal mood and affect, and a left hemisphere system involved in verbally mediated affective and mood states (Silberman & Weingartner, 1986).  The function of these two systems may be reflected in the processing of unconscious and conscious affective information, respectively.  In adults, the right hemisphere is known to be “predominant in the experience, expression and discrimination of emotion and…differentially important for the regulation of arousal” (Levy, Heller, Banich, & Burton, 1983, p. 332), preferentially activated under stress conditions (Tcker, Roth, Arneson, & Bucking- (Schore/ar/185) man, 1977), responsible for maintaining important controls over autonomic activities (Heilman, Schwartz, & Watson, 1977), and to be particularly well connected with subcortical processes (Tucker, 1981).  Joseph concluded, “Right hemispheric involvement with emotional functioning is due to greater abundance of reciprocal interconnections with the limbic system” (1982, p. 16).  (Schore/ar/186)”

“The emergent ego ideal is here conceptualized to be the right hemispheric, dual-component, narcissistic affect-shame regulator that manifests structural organization and functional onset at the end of the practicing period.  Ego ideal shame regulation may be pertinent to the dynamic mechanism by which the right hemisphere, which is responsible for primary process functions ascribed to the unconscious (Galin, 1974) and transference phenomena (Watt, 1986), regulates emotional information.  The superego components of ego ideal and conscience may thus respectively represent systems of right and left hemispheric affect regulation.  (Schore/ar/186)”



from schore Affect dysregulation and disorders of the self


“In fact there is one very specific inhibitor of accelerating pleasurable emotional states, one negative emotion that is more closely associated, both psychologically and neurologically with positive affects.  Shame, a specific inhibitor of the activated outgoing affects of interest-excitement and enjoyment-joy, uniquely reduces self exposure or exploration powered by these positive affects (Tomkins, 1963).  Indeed, shame, which has been described as “the primary social emotion” makes its initial appearance at 14 to 16 months (Schore, 1991).  (Schore/ad/17)”

“In the second year the toddler continues to bring the things he/she is exploring and attempting to master to the mother’s vicinity.  However, at this point of social development the nature of the reunion exchanges is altered in that they now more than any time previously also engender intense stress.  Face-to-face encounters that at one time elicited only joy [not in my case!] become the principal context for shame experiences.  As in the early practicing period, the late practicing senior toddler, in an activated state of stage-typical ascendant excitement and elation, exhibits itself during a reunion with the caregiver.  Recall that the child now has access to presymbolic representations that encode the expectation of being matched by, and being able to match the partner, as well as “participating in the state of the other.”  Despite an excited expectation of a psychobiologically attuned shared positive affect state with the mother and a dyadic amplification of the positive affects of excitement and joy, the infant unexpectedly encounters a facially expressed affective misattunement. [He sure isn’t saying why this would be the case!] The ensuing break in an anticipated visual-affective communication triggers a sudden shock-induced deflation of positive affect.  Shame represents this rapid state transition from a preexisting positive state to a negative state. (Schore/ad/17)”

“Psychobiological attunement drives the attachment process by acting as a mechanism that maximizes and expands positive affect and minimizes and diminishes negative affect.  The negative affect of shame is thus the infant’s imme- (Schore/ad/17) diate physiological-emotional response to an interruption in the flow of an anticipated maternal regultor function, psychobiological attunement which generates positive affect, {again, it would sure be nice if he would say anything about what happens when this is completely missing] and to the maternal utilization of misattunement as a mediator of the socialization process. [This is the first he has mentioned this – I was wondering when he would say anything about this] In other words, shame, which has been called an “attachment emotion” (Lewis, 1980), is the reaction to an important other’s unexpected refusal to enter into a dyadic system that can recreate an attachment bond. [Again, the point being that in some cases there is no “unexpected refusal” because that is the norm – it was never expected in the first place.  And if there is no “attachment bond” in the first place, it cannot be “recreated.] (Schore/ad/18)”

paragraph continues:

“It is well established that attachment bond disruptions precipitate an imbalance in the regulation of affect (Reite & Caitanio, 1985).  Thus in the prototypical object relation of shame a separation response is triggered in the presence of and by the mother who spontaneously and unconsciously blockades the child’s initial attempt to emotionally reconnect with her in a positive affective state.   The impediment to anticipated positive affect is specifically a perception of a facial display which signals not joy and interest but disgust, [or much worse than this!] and which precedes a sudden unanticipated break in social referencing, [and if the anticipation is not there, is there still an unanticipated break, or can the break itself be anticipated in “bad” situations?] the process by which the toddler’s affect and behavior are regulated by maternal facial expressionThe misattunement in shame, as in other negative affects, represents a regulatory failure, and is phenomenologically experienced as a discontinuity in what Winnicott (1958) called the child’s need for “going-on-being.”  How long and how frequently the child remains in this state is an important factor in her ongoing emotional development.  (Schore/ad/18)”

One thought on “++ DR. SCHORE ON SHAME

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