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Shame and self-disgust in skin diseases

Therapeutic change of shame and self-loathing in skin diseases.

Among the ten most common diseases worldwide are three skin diseases. According to Augustin et al. (2011), the most common inflammatory skin diseases are psoriasis and neurodermatitis, which are also the focus of this study. These diseases are often accompanied by significant psychological distress and sometimes comorbid psychological disorders. In dermatological practice, it is often difficult to adequately address and explore psychological distress. Previous studies have shown that dermatologists often overlook the psychological stress associated with skin diseases. These include, for example, strong emotional experience due to shame and disgust, which in turn can lead to decreased satisfaction with treatment. Parallel psychotherapeutic treatment is therefore increasingly recommended to reduce psychological distress and promote helpful behaviors.

A recent approach is (self-) compassion-based therapy (Compassion Focused Therapy) (Gilbert, 2010), which has already been successfully used in the treatment of shame-associated disorders and somatic illness (Austin et al., 2021). This appears promising for the treatment of disgust and shame in people with skin disorders. The current state of research was summarized in a review article, (Fink-Lamotte & Stierle, 2022; Fink-Lamotte et al., submitted).

The aim of this research project is to review (self-) compassion-based intervention techniques in people with skin diseases with regard to their potential to change skin-related disgust and skin-related shame. Skin-related shame involves a negative evaluation of one's skin, which is particularly expressed in feelings of inferiority. The self is devalued as a whole and viewed as inadequate, worthless and incompetent, and socially unattractive. Self-disgust refers to disgust with one's external appearance.


Interventions used (use freely available)

On the experimental induction of shame and disgust in skin diseases.

For intervention with shame and self-loathing in skin diseases