If youth violence — such as drive–bys and schoolhouse shootings — has ever concerned you, this book should be on your reading list. It is the only book authored by a clinician that I have ever read which offers a plausible explanation for what seems to be mindless youth violence. While the essence of The Shame Response message is universal and, in a more perfect world, would be heard by all of us, it should be required reading for policy makers and those entrusted with the responsibility for preventing youth violence.

Hunter Hurst III — Director, National Center for Juvenile Justice, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Thomas distills a lifetime of wisdom derived from efforts to provide humane understanding to individuals whose troubled minds have led to violent acts against society. Using selected examples drawn from his vast experience, and relying on lucid, evocative, and penetrating prose that only sensitive and well meaning clinicians possess, Thomas cuts to the marrow of conflicts and agonies that individuals experience when their needs for a sense of social worthiness and respect have been shattered. He focuses on phylogenetically old social emotions and complexes that have served to bind individuals to their group. When the functions and needs of these “primal” experiences are thwarted, as in the shame response, an individual’s sense of social rootedness is torn apart, resulting in personal devastation and social alienation that culminates in wanton destructive acts.

Horacio Fabrega, Jr. — Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh

This small volume speaks to all of us who in any way — whether as judge or teacher, parent or analytic therapist — hold power over others, and thereby hold both the power to avoid or inflict rejection and shaming, and the responsibility to provide remediation.

James T. McLaughlin — Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh