Restoring the Ultimate Sense of Shame: A Pastoral Theology of Shameability Open Access

Chi, Kwan-Hae (2015)

Permanent URL:


This dissertation presents a pastoral theology of shame (which includes Shameability) as a complex, multilayered phenomenon. It shows that Shameability is part of who we are based on our being created in the image of God, meaning that Shameability exits before the fall; however, it is distorted by sin and psychopathology after the fall. This dissertation illustrates how a revised theological anthropology that includes Shameability will affect our interpretation of pastoral encounters, as well as human interactions on a more global scale. For this purpose, I adapted my Neo-Confucian heritage. Neo-Confucian anthropology views 'shame' not as something negative but as something crucial that is present in the characteristic of a sage--the one who lives according to nature as it was endowed directly from Heaven/God. From this Neo-Confucian anthropological perspective, it is the people without 'shame' that have a problem, not the ones with 'shame.' This unique aspect of Neo-Confucian 'shame' forms the backbone of this dissertation, and my pastoral theology of Shameability is a re-interpretation of the Neo-Confucian concept of suojishim based on my perspective as a Korean American pastoral theologian. What I mean by Shameability (the ultimate sense of Shame) is the capacity to see, recognize, and experience the potential disconnection (Shame) within the state of being united with God, self, and others. This dissertation assumes that human beings are born with the seed of Shameability so that they can grow toward true and complete human being as it is found in Jesus. While human beings are created according to the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), this capacity itself indicates that God is God of Shameability as well, meaning that God can never become a God of Shame, or Shamelessness. The dissertation suggests that all humans have the capacity to experience six different levels of shame within three categories of shame-related states both at an individual and communal level. The three categories are: 1) shame, 2) shamelessness, 3) shameability (sense of shame). The six levels are: 1) proto, 2) pathological, 3) stigma, 4) social, 5) moral, and 6) ultimate. While this means that there can be a total of eighteen shame related states for all human beings, the pastoral theology of Shameability assumes that Shameability/the ultimate sense of Shame (p-vi) is the only undistorted form of shame that God originally granted human beings. As this dissertation understands 'shaming' and 'affirming Shameability' to be different, it concludes that the caregiver's job is not to help a person or nation to avoid, relieve, remove, or defend against shame, but to help restore that person or nation to the ultimate sense of Shame through nurturing, empowering and liberating the seed of Shameability as it is found in Jesus' ministry.

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Shameability as Part of Human Nature 6

Neo-Confucian Anthropology of Suojishim 8

Shameability as the Mark of a True Human: Contributions of Neo-Confucianism 9

Statement of Purpose 12

Main Arguments 13

Methodology 16

A Case and Context 20

Ec's Case 20

Prediction and Research Question 23

Structure 24

Chapter Overviews 26

Limitations of the Project and Suggestions for Future Studies 29

Definition of Terms 31

Six Levels of Shame 31

Three Categories of Shame on the Ultimate Level 32


Development of Psychodynamic Theories of Shame: Freud and His Followers 34

The First Phase--Sigmund Freud 34

1) Motive for Defending Against Exposure 35

2) Drive Inhibitor 37

3) Shame and Ego-ideal 39

4) Shame and Super-ego 40

Sigmund Freud's Contributions 42

1) Shamelessness 42

2) Counter Transference 43

Freud's Limitations and Problems 44

1) Focus Almost Exclusively on Guilt 44

2) No Sense of Shame 46

3) Understanding Human Nature as Shameless 48

Conclusion/Freud 48

The Second Phase--Three Generations of Shame Study After Freud 49

Contributions of Erikson 51

Problems and Limitations of Erikson 51

Gerhart Piers' Theory 52

The Vicious Cycle of Shame and Guilt 53

Contributions 55

Problems and Limitations 55

Helen Block Lewis (1971)--Second Generation 56

The Launching of a Modern Study of Shame 56

Motivation and Method 56

Lewis' Contribution: Learning from Analyst's Discomfort 57

Bypassed Shame 58

Distinction Between Guilt and Shame 58

The Differences between Lewis' and Erikson's/Piers' Distinctions 59

Lewis versus Erikson/Piers 59

Piers versus Lewis 59

Lewis: Problems and Limitations 60

Seeing Shame as a Problem 60

Under Freud's Umbrella 61

A False Assumption 61


Six Levels of Shame 63

The Third Generation 64

Proto Level 65

Contributions and Limitations: Evolutionary Psychology 69

Pathological Level 78

Shame and Psychopathology 79

Object Relations Theory Tradition--Warren Kinston 79

Self Psychology Tradition: Wurmser and Morrison 82

Affect Theory Tradition: Nathanson and Kaufman 85

Overview 90

Contributions and Limitations of the Third Generation Theories and the Claims of the Pastoral Theology of Shameability 90


Shame on Stigma, Social, and Moral Levels 98

Stigma Level 99

Erving Goffman 100

Contributions and Limitations 105

Stigma-based Shame 108

Social Level 110

Gabriele Taylor 111

Meaning of Audience 115

Three Categories of Shame on the Social Level 117

Moral Level 121

Views of the Recent Empirical Psychology 123

Shame as a Moral Emotion: The Position of Deonna and His Colleagues 124

Three Categories of Shame on the Moral Level: A Scenario-Based Understanding 128

Conclusion 131


Ultimate Level 133

Augustine of Hippo 134

Andrew Sung Park 138

Paul Tillich 144

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 149

The Ultimate Sense of Shame in Bonhoeffer 158

Conclusion 164


Restoring the Ultimate Sense of Shame: A Pastoral Theology of Shameability (I)--Biblical Perspective 166

Jesus' Pastoral Ministry of Restoring Shameability 168

Nurturing Caregivers' Own Shameability: Prayer 169

Shame Category: Adam and Eve 170

Shameless Category: Cain 171

Shameability Category: Jesus Christ 172

Jesus' Daily Life of Prayer 173

Nurturing Shameability through Proclaiming the Words of God: Kerygma 176

The Fulfilled Law 178

Nurturing Shameability of Disciples: Pastoral Formation 182

The Parable of the Good Samaritan 190

Interpretation of the Parable from a Care Givers' Perspective 191

Church: A Community of Restoring Shameability 197

Conclusion 199


Restoring the Ultimate Sense of Shame: A Pastoral Theology of Shameability (II) - Cases, Contexts, Situational Analysis and Developing a New Response 201

Shameability and a Case of Korean Parish 202

Ai's Case 202

Bi's Case 205

Ci's Case 209

Dc's Case 214

Overview 219

Ec's Case 220

Fc's Case: Towards Restoring the Ultimate Sense of Shame on a Global Level 221

Shame Category: Korea 222

Shamelessness Category: Dominant Parties 223

Shame of North Korea 225

Shame of South Korea 226

The Shamelessness of the United States 229

Overview 231

Conclusion 232

Appendix: The Case of North Korea 237


About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files