415 Self-Criticism & Symptoms

Research by Pinto-Gouveia, José, Castilho, P., Matos, M., & Xavier, Anna. (2013).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, M.S.

What role do shame-based memories have in psychopathological thinking? We have self-critical thinking like, ‘I’m no good.’ ‘I’m a failure.’ ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I’ll never be able to (get a job, girlfriend, enough money)’? Paranoid and suspicious thinking like “People are talking about me. They send me messages.” And, shame-based thinking like, “People will think I’m disgraceful. I’m flawed. I’ve dishonored my name.”

Portuguese psychologists wanted to determine the controlling role self-criticism and shame memories have in determining depressive symptoms and/or paranoid beliefs. Two hundred individuals completed self-reports to measure self-criticism, shame memories, depressive symptoms, and paranoid beliefs.

Results? Self-criticism was able to explain the observed relationship between shame memories and depressive symptoms. However, self-criticism did not similarly explain the association between shame memories and paranoid beliefs.

Understanding the role of self-criticism on depressive symptoms due to shameful memories allows us to empathize with those that currently suffer from depression. If you suffer from depression, stop self-criticism. Think self-esteem boosters (e.g., name things you admire,you’ve done for others,or you excel in). Boost others’ self-esteem,often,by telling them what you specifically value and appreciate about them, or how they’ve helped you.


Pinto-Gouveia, J., Castilho, P., Matos, M., & Xavier, A. (2013). Centrality of shame memories and psychopathology: The mediator effect of self-criticism. Clinical Psychology, Science and Practice, 20, 323-334.

Show More
Back to top button