Private Self-Degradation Ceremonies

  • Raymond M. Bergner
Part of the The Springer Series in Social Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


Shannon, a 20-year-old college senior, reported at her intake session that she continued to suffer repercussions from an event that had occurred many years previously. While in the eighth grade at a parochial school, her class had held a graduation party at a state park. During the party, a boy to whom she was strongly attracted asked her to walk with him alone in the forest. In the course of their walk, the boy suddenly thrust his hand into her pants and touched her vaginal area. Shocked, confused, and in some measure not wanting to displease the boy, Shannon froze. Before she could recover and say or do anything (a period she estimated at perhaps five seconds), the boy removed his hand. Nothing further transpired between the two. As a result of this single, brief incident, Shannon branded herself a “slut,” and with this, radically reassessed her entire social position. In her eyes, she had “fallen” from being sexually whole, good, and valuable to being “easy,” “dirty,” and sexually devalued. She believed that she could no longer presume to have a place among the valued “nice boys and girls” in her peer group, but must regard herself a stigmatized outcast. As a result, she withdrew socially and experienced an extremely lonely and painful adolescence.


Attributional Style Person Brand Degrading Status College Senior Intake Session 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond M. Bergner
    • 1
  1. 1.Illnois State UniversityNormalUSA

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