A Social Theory and Treatment of Depression

Scheff, Thomas J.
March 2009
Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry;2009, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p37
Academic Journal
This article outlines a theory of depression and the rudiments of a treatment plan. It builds upon my earlier study of interviews in a mental hospital and the work of the psychologist Helen Block Lewis. Theory: Recursive shame-based spirals may be the basic mechanism of both clinical depression and extreme violence. Shame-fear, shame-shame, and shame-anger spirals are described. Hypotheses: depression may result from a shame-shame spiral or when the anger in shame-anger spirals is directed in, recursively, without limit. Similarly, violence can result if the anger in the shame-anger spiral is directed out. These ideas lead to a proposal for treatment of depression focused on social bonds and hidden emotions. In this connection, possible effects of antidepressants on emotion are also discussed.


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