“There is nothing to be ashamed of”?: from Młynarski’s connotations to students’ associations Cover Image
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„Wstydzić od dawna się nie mamy czego”? Od wypowiedzi Młynarskiego do skojarzeń studenckich
“There is nothing to be ashamed of”?: from Młynarski’s connotations to students’ associations

Author(s): Małgorzata Karwatowska
Subject(s): Music, Polish Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego
Keywords: shame; associations; student
Summary/Abstract: The objective of this contribution is to arrive at how students conceptualize the notion of shame, or being ashamed. The research involves 150 students of the Faculty of the Humanities, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin. Their task was twofold: (1) to enumerate the associations that they have in relation to the word wstyd (Eng. shame), and (2) to answer the question whether or not the modern man needs at all the sense of shame. It turns out that, in the first place, the students associate shame with the cultural taboo, (moral and social) dos and don’ts, the feeling of disgrace and the sense of failure as well as the negative assessment of one’s competence (mistake, ignorance, error) and faux pas. The respondents would also specify various shame-generating situations that, according to them, are of verbal, motoric, and emotional natures. Apart from the destructive (negative) kind of shame, the students also identify what they call healthy, natural shame which brings the awareness of one’s making a mistake and the need of making up for it. This latter kind of shame leads one to reassess his/her own attitudes and prod into action. Asked whether or not the modern man needs shame, the students answered that shame is not merely a necessity, but is a real must because it (1) invites reflection, (2) facilitates self-improvement, (3) sets the boundaries that should not be crossed, and (4) shapes one’s character. As the author concludes, most of the questionnaire-derived answers must be regarded as typical associations, notably conventionalised, with shame being assessed negatively. Yet, however common, shame happens to be seen in positive terms as well. Although the students typically associate shame with a number of negatively-assessed symptoms, they nevertheless present the category SHAME as a man’s controlling guardian that is in charge of one’s respecting moral norms.