Emotion is a very complex subject, and shame - in particular - is one of the most difficult emotions to understand. The author makes a serious attempt to meet the challenge by reviewing the literature on shame all the way back to the Book of Genesis, to Darwin, Freud and contemporary 20th century theorists.
Parents typically use facial expressions of disgust and contempt in order to humiliate children and instill shame. Instead of explaining reasons for the parents' disapproval, their emotional reaction -often intense - has the effect of frightening the child into obedience. The child doesn't learn why the action is disapproved of, and in the future tends to attribute global goodness or badness to himself or other individuals, rather than evaluating reasons or specific circumstances.
The book presents an interesting model of shame, its origins (usually in miseducation), and effects (always toxic, as opposed to guilt which may be reparative). "A shame filled environment for any child is comparable to a stress-filled environment." (p. 113)
When children are taught to make global evaluations ("I'm a good person/I'm a bad person") they suffer from excessive pride or paralyzing shame - both of which are destructive to the individual and society. Children should be taught to make specific evaluations ("What I did yesterday was bad/What I'm doing today is good") to encourage constructive and reparative actions.
There is some evidence of differences in how parents and teachers socialize little boys and girls, with the result that girls are more prone to shame (especially regarding personal appearance) than boys (especially sexual performance). The consequence of shame is often depression (usually in women), or rage (usually in men).
The author doesn't consider the widespread problem of female sexual dysfunction, which is plausibly related to early shame training. Imagine, too, a world where girls and women aren't so ashamed of their breasts. The book has many other defects, such as promoting the now-discredited diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. But the basic message of this book is profoundly important: children's emotional education should be more careful than what has traditionally been passed off as good parenting.