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Self-abasement or abasement is voluntary act of self-punishment in order to atone for some real or imagined wrongdoing. It usually involves an unfavorable social comparison between the self to another person or some standard of behavior, thought or feeling. In psychology, abasement is associated with shame (rather than guilt) and it is said to involve the reduction of the subject's self esteem.

The notion of abasement was developed by H. Murray, following Freudian psychoanalysis. He suggested this act is a basic human social need to lower one’s self, relative to others a person considers superior to themselves, to give power to that superior person, to know their place within a social hierarchy.[1]

Webster's Dictionary defines "self-abasement" as:

1. Degradation of one's self by one's own act.
2. Humiliation or abasement proceeding from consciousness of inferiority, guilt, or shame.

Self-abasement might have a religious aspect for those seeking humility before God, perhaps in the context of a monastic or cenobitic lifestyle.

It also has a sexual and fetish aspect for those people who enjoy masochism or erotic humiliation and other related BDSM practices. Examples of self-abasement practices in this context would include self-flagellation, bondage, torture, public humiliation including online humiliation.

See alsoEdit


  1. Matsumoto, D (2008). The Cambridge Dictionary of Psychology.
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