Childhood Parentification and Shame-Proneness: A Preliminary Study
The current study, utilizing a group of 197 undergraduate students, found that childhood parentification is associated with shame-proneness in adults (when the shared variance with guiltproneness is controlled). Parentification, the reversal of parent and child roles, requires a premature identification with the parent(s)' expectations and needs, at the expense of the development of the child's true talents and gifts, often leaving the child feeling ashamed of the true self's unrewarded strivings. This finding is linked theoretically to an earlier study that found a relationship between childhood parentification and both narcissistic and masochistic personality characteristics (Jones & Wells, 1996). A secondary finding supported a predicted relationship between guilt and shame. Clinicians are encouraged to attend to the possibilities of these connections when planning and executing treatment plans with parentified adults.
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