Sex, Shame, and Spirituality: A Study of Lived Experience

  • Author / Creator
    Nicholas Christopher Jacobs
  • The concept of “emerging adulthood” (Arnett, 2000) marks a new independence from social roles and normative expectations. While sexual and spiritual identities are important aspects of self, with such freedom comes an increased vulnerability to experience shame, an example of this being the many faith communities morally opposed to premarital sexual behaviours (Barkan, 2006). A review of relevant literature on the topics of shame and a history of sexuality is provided, and offers a critique of several major theorists while identifying gaps in the literature related to this research. Guided by the tenets of hermeneutic phenomenology (van Manen, 1990), individuals’ shameful sexual experiences were explored through interviewing, reflecting an in-depth investigation aimed to describe and better understand the essence of shame. Findings include a rich and nuanced description of many layers of shame, which can better assist one to infer the influences of shame on the self, interpersonal relationships, and spiritual well-being. A discussion of the description of shame links aspects of individuals’ lived experiences back to relevant literature, and an exploration into several directions of future research is provided. Inferences gleaned from this research might assist individuals and helping professionals to alleviate harmful aspects of the experience of shame among themselves and their clients and equip individuals to develop healthier understandings of themselves, while also contributing to quality relationships and community-building. Closely looking at shame through this lens can prepare counsellors who work with clients struggling with such experiences.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Zinia Pritchard
    • Dr. Cathy Adams