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Dissertation Title:

Understanding the Role of Shame in Women with Depression


Rose Marie Rutherford

Date, Time & Place:

September 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Studio, Lambert Road campus


Much has been written about shame and depression and its importance for affecting change in clinical work with clients. Recent literature has suggested the importance of clarifying the role of shame as a predictor of depressive symptoms. In light of this work, this investigation hypothesized that the participants with depression would score higher on the Experience Shame Scale (ESS) than the participants without depression. This investigation also hypothesized that there would be positive correlations between suicidal ideation and ESS with participants with suicidal ideation having higher scores on ESS Total, Characterological Shame, Behavioral Shame, and Bodily Shame. This investigation further hypothesized that there would be positive correlations between suicidal attempts and ESS scores. In this quasi-experimental study, all participants with mild to severe Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II) scores were analyzed as participants with depression. One hundred twenty-six participants between the ages of 19 and 75 were administered the Experience of Shame Score (ESS) and the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II) and a questionnaire designed to account for varying predictor variables of shame and/or depression. Results showed that participants with depression scored higher on the ESS Total scale and the three ESS subscales than participants without depression. The correlations of demographics and diagnostic variables also revealed significant correlations between ESS Total scores and history of suicidal thoughts or ideation, and with a history of suicidal attempts. Overall, these findings underscore the need for understanding the specific relationship between shame and depression, to expand to the general population. In addition to providing increased understanding of the concept of shame, this study emphasized the important correlation between shame, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation and attempts. In addition, this research provided unique insights for women who are currently experiencing depressive symptoms regarding the relationship between their depressive symptoms and shaming experiences, and their relationship with others. Future research in this area is suggested. Finally, the importance of understanding shame in mental health due to the increase of women with depressive symptoms and shaming experiences is also discussed.


**Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to campus from the Best Western in Carpinteria. There is no public parking on campus.**

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, Track B, 2007
  • Chair: Dr. Karen Shipley
  • Reader: Dr. Valerie Mantecon
  • External Reader: Dr. Kimberly Frye
  • Keywords: Women, Shame, Depression, Suicidal Ideation, Suicidal Attempts