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Reviewed by Nina Longfield
Darlene Lancer’s book, Conquering Shame and Codependency, is an examination of what shame is and how it relates to or feeds codependent tendencies. Lancer tackles a subject, shame, that people tend to avoid. Shame is a natural emotion, yet it is secreted and not spoken of in our western society. Shame can be hidden in moods, aggression, idealization, judgment, or many other symptoms. Shame and guilt are often interchanged but, as Lancer points out, the two emotions are different. Guilt is a judgment about behavior, whereas shame is a feeling about self.
Lancer delves into theories around shame, from the Darwinian, to the cognitive, to the psychoanalytic. She breaks down the constructs of shame to its various types: existential, situational, class, and narcissistic. Narcissistic shame is broken into acute shame and internalized shame, and that becomes the focus of the book with further topic breakdowns that make for an understandable analysis. Lancer doesn’t just focus on the causality of shame and its relationship to codependency. She also offers exercises at the end of each chapter so the reader can delve further into the meaning of shame to his/her own circumstances. Then Lancer ends with a chapter on healing. She offers up an eight step plan for freeing one’s true self.
Reviewing a book such as Conquering Shame and Codependency is not an easy task. Not being an expert in the world of psychology, I can only provide my perspective as a layperson. Lancer’s book is well written. It flows in a manner that aids understanding. Plus the book answered questions that I had. I picked this book up so I could better understand codependency and the association of shame. In that, Lancer’s book fulfilled my need for knowledge. I was impressed with Lancer’s breadth of understanding, the self-examination exercises throughout, and the information being shared within these pages. Conquering Shame and Codependency is written to a general audience, though not dumbed down. The only downside is that the subject is somewhat dry.
Lancer is not offering a quick fix, but she does present a wealth of information regarding the subject. Whether seeking general information on shame and codependency or looking for a starting point on a healing journey, Lancer’s Conquering Shame and Codependency may be a good place to begin.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review and giveaway copies were provided by Darlene Lancer. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.