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Leys, Ruth

From guilt to shame

Why has shame recently displaced guilt as a dominant emotional reference in the West? After the Holocaust, survivors often reported feeling guilty for living when so many others had died, and in the 1960s psychoanalysts and psychiatrists in the United States helped make survivor guilt a defining feature of the "survivor syndrome." Yet the idea of survivor guilt has always caused trouble, largely because it appears to imply that, by unconsciously identifying with the perpetrator, victims psychically collude with power. In From Guilt to Shame, Ruth Leys has written the first genealogical-critical study of the vicissitudes of the concept of survivor guilt and the momentous but largely unrecognized significance of guilt´s replacement by shame. Ultimately, Leys challenges the theoretical and empirical validity of the shame theory proposed by figures such as Silvan Tomkins, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Giorgio Agamben, demonstrating that while the notion of survivor guilt has depended on an intentionalist framework, shame theorists share a problematic commitment to interpreting the emotions, including shame, in antiintentionalist and materialist terms. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Acknowledgments ix INTRODUCTION: From Guilt to Shame 1 CHAPTER ONE: Survivor Guilt 17 The Slap 17 She Demanded to Be Killed Herself and Bitten to Death 24 Identification with the Aggressor 32 Survivor Guilt 38 The Dead 47 CHAPTER TWO: Dismantling Survivor Guilt 56 "Radical Nakedness" 56 The Survivor as Witness 61 Dramaturgies of the Self 68 The Subject of Imitation 76 Psychoanalytic Revisions 83 CHAPTER THREE: Image and Trauma 93 Imagery and PTSD 93 Miscellaneous Symptoms 99 Stress Films 106 PTSD and Shame 118 CHAPTER FOUR: Shame Now 123 Shame´s Revival 123 Shame and Specularity 126 Shame and the Self 129 Autotelism 133 The Evidence 137 Objectless Emotions 145 The Primacy of Personal Differences 150 Posthistoricism 154 CHAPTER FIVE: The Shame of Auschwitz 157 The Gray Zone 157 "That Match Is Never Over" 162 The Matter of Testimony 165 Shame 170 The Flush 174 Conclusion 180 Appendix 187 Index 193

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