Shame is a powerful emotion rooted in how we think other people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. It can guide our behaviour, influence our feelings about ourselves and shape a sense of our self-identity and our feelings of social acceptability and desirability. Some researchers think that memories of shame can have similar effects to memories of trauma, effects such as intrusiveness, flashbacks, unpleasantness and stressfulness. Two researchers from the University of Coimbra in Portugal looked into this issue in a study of 811 people. They found that shameful memories did indeed share similar qualities with traumatic ones. Shameful experiences in childhood were associated with current feelings of shame as an adult both in relation to other people and oneself. Feelings of shame in the present were significantly related to depression and those people whose shameful memories were more traumatic had more severe depression symptoms.
Matos, Marcela and Pinto-Gouveia, Jose - Shame as a traumatic memory Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy July-August 2010, 17(4), 299-312