Dignity and Shame

Shame is a primary emotion that determines interpersonal relations in powerful ways.

Shame emerges in an array of different life experiences, for example in learning situations, when a student has made a mistake.

It looms in nursing, when intimate parts of the body are cared for. Shame also emerges in counselling and social work when clients are ashamed of their need for help or their condition of poverty.

Shame shapes groups as it regulates belonging and exclusion. Shame may even dominate a nation's politics, for example National Socialism with its promise to overcome the 'disgrace' of World War 1 and the Versailles treaty by restoring Germany's 'honour'.

Shame is often unnoticed as it is usually hidden behind secondary emotions and behaviours such as contempt, arrogance, violence, addiction, depression or suicide. Therefore in all work with people it is crucial that professionals are able to recognize and understand what shame is, to know how it affects the human mind and behaviour and, most of all, to respond to it in conscious and constructive ways.

Such is the purpose of lectures and seminars conducted by Dr. Stephan Marks. He is trained in social science, adult education and supervision. He was director of the research project History and Memory (Geschichte und Erinnerung: interviews with Nazi-followers were conducted and evaluated); He was chair of Remembrance and Learning (Erinnerung und Lernen e.V.) and speaker of the Freiburg Institute of Human Rights Education in Freiburg, Germany.

Stephan Marks teaches seminars on dignity and shame for teachers and the helping professions in Central Europe, North and Latin America.

He is author of twelve books and numerous essays; most recently:

- Scham – die tabuisierte Emotion, Patmos Verlag 2021, 9th ed.

- Desde la Vergüenza y la Humiliation hacia una Pedagogica de la Aceptiòn y la Dignidad Humana, Lima 2009 (on shame and dignity in education).

- Warum folgten sie Hitler? Die Psychologie des Nationalsozialismus, Patmos Verlag 2019, 5th ed (on the psychology of national socialism; this book is translated and published in South-Korea, Poland and Greece).

A lecture in English on this issue can be seen here.


For more information, references or arrangements please contact

Dr. Stephan Marks

Fohrenbühl 13, D-79252 Stegen
Tel. 0049 7661 627854
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