Self-criticism is a personality virus of sorts and can be lethal, according to a new book authored by Prof. Golan Shahar from the Department of Psychology of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and published by Oxford University Press.

Shahar, a clinical-health psychologist, identifies the mechanisms through which self-criticism confers vulnerability to psychopathology in his book, titled, Erosion: The Psychopathology of Self-Criticism. The book is based on two decades of empirical and theoretical research and clinical work.

He says self-criticism propels people to get involved in stressful events such as rejections by others, relationship breakups, and failures, to avoid engaging in positive life experiences and to negate support from others. This, in turn, leaves people depressed, anxious, suffering from other symptoms, and becoming suicidal. Shahar offers a novel theory of how self-criticism comes about in individuals, families, and societies, and provides guidelines for an integrative and comprehensive psychotherapy with self-critical adolescents and young adults.

Shahar dedicated his book to the memory of his Yale Mentor, Prof. Sidney J. Blatt, a celebrated clinical psychologist. Shahar is also organizing the Sidney J. Blatt Symposium on Depression and Suicidality, to be held on January 6th at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Shahar will speak about Blatt’s work as well as his own at the one-day symposium. Professor Thomas Joiner from Florida State University, arguably the leading person in suicide research, will also present his own theories and studies, linking them to Blatt’s work.

The symposium will host other leading Israeli experts to discuss ways depression and risk of suicide should be treated.