Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2016

Pathological Shame as Defense Mechanism in Hanif Kureishi’s The Penis and Eve Ensler’s My Vagina Was My Village

Nurul Soleha Mohd Noor, Ong Kear Yee, Termizi, Arbaayah A.

Universiti Putra Malaysia


Psychoanalysis notion of ‘pathological shame’ is the anxiety of sexual repression when what was originally pleasurable turned into disgust and therefore, victims of sexual trauma are known to experience this. One of Hanif Kureishi’s short stories; The Penis and a part of Eve Ensler’s play; My Vagina Was My Village were chosen to fulfill the purpose of current topic. These literary pieces were selected based on the protagonists’ experience which led them to suffer ‘pathological shame’. The study found that both characters (Doug from The Penis and the narrator from My Vagina Was My Village) dissociated themselves through abstract self-mutilation of their genitals as a consequence to their traumatic encounter. The study intends to provide new readings on the effect of sexual trauma with particular underlining to self-mutilation.


sexual trauma, pathological shame, self-mutilation, dissociation.

Back to Table of Contents
Download Full Paper (PDF)