Inferiority Feelings: In the Individual and the Group (International Library of Psychology)

Shame: The Emotional Basis of Library Anxiety
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There is no shortage of material in the library literature on how to deal with angry users. Much of the literature takes a common-sense approach for reducing negative interactions with users, such as attentive listening, creating better policies, and adding more training for staff. An oversight in the literature is that customer-service advice is typically designed around the concept of the difficult or angry user. It rarely, if at all, focuses on the shame or humiliation felt by librarians.

Below are comments written by a library staff respondent on a LibQual survey:.

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Shame is indicated in the perceived rejection and betrayal he feels. His shame is completely repressed. Osa also noted that library staff gave different answers to many of the questions in oral discussions following the survey. Many respondents said difficult users made them feel confused and less willing to use all available resources to assist them. These policies may become harshly punitive and degrade the perception of the user.

If a library service area develops a culture that is rife with shame, then viewing library users as crazy, bad, or stupid becomes the norm. Publishing a paper that implies her library users exhibit traits of a personality disorder may be a reaction to the shame-humiliation that she has felt over time. However, in her defense, many scholars believe that narcissism is a response to chronic shame , so it is likely that she is dealing with the highest levels of bypassed shame in terms of library anxiety. According to Nathanson, living in a chronic state of shame does not allow us to form a positive sense of self, so we adopt an ideal self with limitless talent and capabilities.

Interestingly, the technique that Lyles suggests for dealing with high-conflict patrons such as adopting attitudes of empathy, attention, and respect are emotions that speak directly to the shame affect. The final example of bypassed shame is written by a student complaining about the service he received after returning a charger:. He feels the staff view him as a thief. This causes him to launch into criticism of the policy to prove he is not a thief. Library conflicts involving policies and service attitudes are difficult to resolve, because the emotions are rarely identified or viewed as the source of conflict.

During interactions where one party is overwhelmed with shame and guilt for his transgressions, the communication technique of leveling can help neutralize shame. What makes this difficult, according to Scheff, is that it requires a direct and respectful tone in the delivery; most people are too direct and disrespectful , or too respectful, but indirect.

Most people are reluctant to level because emotions are rarely, if ever, identified as the source of conflict. How does that sound? Bypassed shame is usually directed outward, and those on the receiving end may retaliate with an equal amount of anger.

Introduction International Library of Psychology: Inferiority Feelings: In the Individual and the Group (Volume 70) (): Oliver Brachfeld: Books​. Including volumes originally published between and , the Abnormal and Clinical Psychology set of the International Library of.

Intractable conflicts occur when shame is completely hidden from both parties, and the topic will usually mask the true problem. How is it possible to feel respect for this person with so much hostility directed at librarians and students? There are moments when it feels like a death has occurred. You are not the only person to feel this way.

go It is inherent to the human condition—even Aristotle and Socrates complained about the younger generation being lazy and unintelligent. In a recent study, Doris Van Kampen-Breit and Rachel Cooke found that 40 percent of students believe that librarians are too busy to help them, and they estimated that 30 percent of students leave the library without their desired resources. On a micro level, every library anxiety survey and outreach initiative is an effort to normalize shame and bring students out of isolation.

These efforts are a prosocial way to deal with shame. For example, what kind of attitude does an institution communicate to its users? Does the library terminology alienate users or does it bring them closer to the library resources and librarians? Do policies embrace a belief that library users are trying to improve their lives, or do the policies punish users for trying to take advantage of the system?

Most important, when confronting the manifestations of hidden shame, it is beneficial to use the shame word openly. As unpleasant and disturbing as this word is to hear such as library shame , using it is a form of empowerment.

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Avoiding the shame word is an activating agent of shame. The simple act of acknowledging shame resolves many of its destructive effects—effects that would otherwise persist when it is hidden from our awareness. When shame is specifically identified, it can be replaced with attitudes and behaviors that strengthen bonds with the community. Recent scholarship on shame theory has revolutionized the study of human behavior.

When library anxiety research is examined using the theoretical framework of unacknowledged shame, affective components begin to surface.


LIS scholars have determined that library anxiety is a socially based phenomenon. Analyzing the social emotions that evoke library anxiety is crucial to understanding the role that shame plays. The crux of this hypothesis is that shame emerges as the dominant affect in library anxiety when users feel alienated and disconnected from library culture and staff.

The social matrix of library anxiety raises new questions that are addressed in this paper: how does library anxiety affect the emotional-relational world of staff and library users; how does it manifest in library service interactions; and how is it resolved when the emotions are identified? Charles H. Constance A. Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Qun G. Jiao, and Sharon L. Louis Gottschalk, C.

Inferiority Complex Symptoms

Winget, and G. Thomas J.

Scheff and Suzanne M. Silvan S.

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