Childhood Maltreatment, Shame-Proneness and Self-Criticism in Social Anxiety Disorder: A Sequential Mediational Model

Ben Shahar*, Guy Doron, Ohad Szepsenwol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has shown a robust link between emotional abuse and neglect with social anxiety symptoms. However, the mechanisms through which these links operate are less clear. We hypothesized a model in which early experiences of abuse and neglect create aversive shame states, internalized into a stable shame-based cognitive-affective schema. Self-criticism is conceptualized as a safety strategy designed to conceal flaws and prevent further experiences of shame. However, self-criticism maintains negative self-perceptions and insecurity in social situations. To provide preliminary, cross-sectional support for this model, a nonclinical community sample of 219 adults from Israel (110 females, mean age=38.7) completed measures of childhood trauma, shame-proneness, self-criticism and social anxiety symptoms. A sequential mediational model showed that emotional abuse, but not emotional neglect, predicted shame-proneness, which in turn predicted self-criticism, which in turn predicted social anxiety symptoms. These results provide initial evidence supporting the role of shame and self-criticism in the development and maintenance of social anxiety disorder. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)570-579
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Volume22
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords

  • Childhood Maltreatment
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Self-Criticism
  • Shame
  • Shame-Proneness
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

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