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J Dance Med Sci. 2018 Jun 15;22(2):100-108. doi: 10.12678/1089-313X.22.2.100.

Shame and Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Childhood Adversity in Dancers.

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California State University, Northridge, California and York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, California 91330-8287, USA;, Email:
California State University, Northridge, California, USA.


The combination of shame, anxiety, and a history of childhood maltreatment can have devastating effects on self-esteem and on the morbidity and mortality of an individual. Shame is a natural emotion evoked in social evaluative settings. Without some degree of shame, goal attainment is less likely. However, high levels of shame may increase pathology and decrease performance. In this crosssectional study, pre-professional and professional dancers were divided into two shame groupings: low (N = 193) and high (N = 25). Chi square and multivariate analyses of covariance (age and gender as covariates) were conducted to determine group differences for cumulative adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), anxiety, self-esteem, and shame factors. The high shame group had a greater distribution of childhood adversity (especially emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and emotional neglect). They also had clinical levels of anxiety and low self-esteem. In the path analyses, the causal model demonstrated that childhood adversity had a direct effect on anxiety and shame and an indirect effect on self-esteem. Shame and anxiety had a direct effect on self-esteem. Helping dancers become resistant to shame may decrease anxiety and buffer the effects of a history of childhood adversity. As internalized shame decreases, dancers may enhance their self-esteem, wellbeing, and ability to pursue and achieve their career goals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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