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Sandy Mitchell

Consciousness Researcher, Affect Psychology (Facebook page)

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Deepening the conversation & dialogue about shame with other interested folks.

While Brene Brown's TED Talk is a wonderful conversation-starter about shame, and I give her full credit for courageously putting the difficult subject of shame on the table; the subject is much deeper than she could go into given the length of her talk. I have been studying shame for a long time, and have found much wonderful work done on the subject by lots of people in a variety of fields. Unfortunately most of that work goes unrecognized and so most people are unable to benefit from it. I'd love to participate in an on-going conversation that has the potential to continue long after this TED forum page expires.

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    Apr 5 2012: It occurs to me that the only thing worse than experiencing shame is to be shameless.
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      Apr 7 2012: Hi Linda! I was wondering if I'd hear from you again, and good to hear from you. Yes, I agree with your statement. I think human beings evolved the capacity for shame for pretty good reasons, and I'm not on the 'lets get rid of all shame' bandwagon.

      The only people I know of who have lost the capacity for experiencing shame are either brain-injured or sociopathic. This is a tough point to get across though, as I think I've been misinterpreted about that by some folks...
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        Apr 7 2012: Well Sandy,

        Unfortunately, life is set up for interpretation, but clarification is your best friend in this case. I understood your point though. I think that was obvious. =P
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    Mar 23 2012: Then I discovered a book, "Shame: The Power of Caring," that turned my world upside down, in a very radical way. I realized that I hadn't heard any therapist talk about shame - and that shame was the central issue in my life. And it really helped that the writer made himself vulnerable by acknowledging that he was talking about a huge issue in HIS life, which was why he was studying it. In my experience, books about psychology are almost always written from a 'distance' - the author usually come across as a totally together person who just happens to find a particular form of human suffering interesting, which I find very distancing.

    I agree that shame is a complex internal emotion. It seems to be an innate human capacity that evolved for specific purposes (if you're interested I'll go into that more later) of survival. All humans feel it, though the specific things that trigger a shame response are highly individual.

    You wrote: "Now connecting vulnerability and shame. That would mean a whole different approach to vulnerable populations. My question to those of you involved in this research, how do you address shame?"

    As you pointed out, 'Vulnerable Populations' can be a stigmatizing term that people use to see people as 'lesser than' themselves…especially since as you also point out those terms are usually used to identify low or no income people.

    Having grown up in an extremely poor family, I know firsthand that in this culture, that so values money and status, not having either of those is seen as inherently shameful - though that's seldom talked about. It's just sort of a given in our society that people who have more money are somehow 'better than' those who don't.

    On the blood pressure issue... shame can add a hell of a lot of stress to anyone's life, and trauma as well... and stress such as being a person of color in a culture where an innocent kid can be shot for nothing more than walking while black stresses a whole community with the injustice of it
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    Mar 23 2012: Hi Linda - you raise a lot of interesting issues here. I also don't much care for labels for groups or individuals, especially the way some people use them to stigmatize or categorize 'others.' They can become meaningless too - I remember being at a meeting years ago where someone was going on about defining 'youth at risk;' a friend of mine piped up and noted that as far as he was concerned, given the state of our society, ALL youth were 'at risk…'

    Your question; "how do you address shame?" is an important one.

    First let me be clear that when I identify myself as someone 'researches' shame and consciousness, I don't mean that I'm someone who actually conducts research in a 'research setting' - I mean that I have a passionate interest and curiosity in these subjects, and so I look for information on them wherever I can find it. Like you, I'm always trying to connect the dots…

    That said, I got into studying shame for very personal reasons. When I started down this path I was in my late 20's, and felt like nothing in my life made sense. I'd grown up in a very troubled family, and I felt depressed and discouraged when an important relationship fell apart, right after I'd lost a job I really valued. I was pretty good at exploring things outside myself, but because of the intense suffering I was going through, I was motivated to start exploring my inner world.

    I was exposed to a lot of different models of psychotherapy, and tried many of them out. I was very curious and hopeful and read up on all kinds of psychological theories and therapies. After many years of this I realized that, while I'd gotten something from each of my experiences, any real progress seemed painfully, glacially slow. I was on the verge of giving up on it altogether. I thought, "well, I must just be so completely screwed up, nothing will help me REALLY change. I might as well just get used to feeling this way, like I'd have to get used to a physical handicap or a chronic disease."
    (continued)
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    Apr 8 2012: Thanks Sandy, I will check those out. =)
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    Apr 7 2012: (cont.)
    . . . this all began when we were toddlers. Having just discovered that we could stand, walk, and run – we wanted to explore everything in the world, and as fast as we could. That was was our Sympathetic NS coming ‘on line’ and propelling us to move forward into the world…

    But since we were so young, we didn’t have the life-experience that would protect us from moving towards things that could harm us. The job of protecting us fell to our caregivers. One of the tools available to them was that they could intervene to stop us, with a shout, command, or maybe just a sternly disapproving look…which is all that it took to activate our Parasympathetic NS, which then ‘shuts us down’ long enough for our caregivers to rein us in, so to speak…by evoking the 'shame circuit' that exists in all of us.

    As we get older, and our verbal and cognitive capacities increase, we begin to make ever more complex associations between the interior experiences of emotions and the reactions we get from others – that is, we start to make ‘meaning’ of our experiences. Whether the meanings we make are positive or negative depends a lot on how our early experiences shaped the way we learn to think about ourselves…

    The branch of psychology I’ve found most helpful in understanding human emotion is called Affect Psychology, based on the work of psychologist Silvan Tomkins, who created Affect Theory. His work has not received the attention it deserves, but I hope to live long enough to see that change!
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    Apr 7 2012: Hi all...
    I'm cross-posting this from a recent discussion list where a question was asked about embarrassment...it's in two parts.

    Here is the science behind shame/embarrassment. Human beings are all born with innate capacities to experience what we call ‘emotions,’ often called ‘feelings.’ It’s interesting that only in recent years has the study of this incredibly important part of our life-experience started to get significant study.

    Our emotions evolved as a means to interpret our experience. We all know from our own experience that our emotions can be powerful motivators in our lives, giving us important information about how we are reacting to events and people in our lives.

    Unfortunately, because humanity as a whole has not understood the realm of emotion very well, we are often confused about how to interpret the information our emotions are giving us. Sometimes we take the information our emotions provide (such as the anger we feel that gives us a message like: “I really don’t like this situation I’m in!”) and take misguided actions that only make a bad situation worse - because that's what we learned to do.

    We learn to give meaning to the physical sensations that our emotions arouse in us through how our parents and others respond or react to us when we’re displaying our emotions.

    In the specific case of embarrassment (which is one of the forms the basic emotion of shame takes), the feeling of it comes over us very quickly and ‘jams our circuits’ for a bit. We feel suddenly confused and unsure of ourselves. What happens when shame of any kind is triggered internally, is that our Sympathetic Nervous System (which is activated when we move towards something or somebody with the emotion of Interest) suddenly is squelched by our Parasympathetic Nervous System (which is triggered by the fear that we may have done something wrong) having been activated. . .

    (cont.)
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    Apr 7 2012: Hey Sandy,

    I meant scholarly as in, the source has been peer reviewed by others in the field, or I guess it isn't some random blogg site or something. =)

    I just need some pointers on what information in the text I should read in depth. Do you have any? =D

    Thanks for the help. =D
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      Apr 7 2012: Hi Derek,
      Thanks for clarifying what you mean by 'scholarly.' And I want to reassure you that all the people who's work I've come to see as thoughtful and reliable are people who've been writing and publishing for quite a while - most of them a lot longer than Brene Brown! No 'random bloggers' on my list of experts...not that I wouldn't listen to a blogger who said something worth listening to!

      Help me understand your question about the 'text' you're speaking of - do you mean the Gershen Kaufman book I told you about?

      I do recommend that book because in the early chapters he's willing to be very specific about his personal involvement with the subject, and that humanizes his writing in a way that makes it clearer.
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        Apr 7 2012: I was thinking that each source you share with me, you could also tell specific areas I should look at or what are the significances you've extracted from the sources. I guess I shouldn't say all...I would say at least about 8-10 sources with basic ideas on the subject of shame, so I could do a basic ghist of the subject, unless I find that more sources are needed and my essay needs to head in a different direction. Though, it may or may not just be for my own consumption because I have not yet been assigned the full parameters for this essay, but my professor said it was a research paper about anything. =)

        Thanks for reading my thoughts and sharing yours. =)
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          Apr 7 2012: Hey Derek,
          I'd recommend reading at least the first two chapters of Gershen Kaufman's book: "Shame; the Power of Caring (1992 edition)"
          1) The Interpersonal Origins of Shame, and: 2) The Internalization of Shame and the Origins of Identity

          Also, in Ted Usatynski's book: "Instinctual Intelligence: The Primal Wisdom of the Nervous System and the Evolution of Human Nature," I'd recommend ch. 7: "What Holds Us Back?"

          You might even want to start with that - it's only 8 pages long, but is quite illuminating about how humans evolved the capacity for shame.
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    Apr 5 2012: Sandy

    What types of shame are there? Do the genders have shame within a group of women or a group of men? How does one react to having their faces burnt by acid as some cultures in the world have allowed?

    I know what those people feel like as i have something similarr,this is where it gets interesting,if one has burnt skin or facial injuries,what kind of reaction would one receive from the general public?

    A genetic Response?

    A abhorred response?

    A sympathetic response?
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    Apr 3 2012: Hi Sandy and all,

    Thank you for starting this thread - shame happens to be a very important topic to me as well. I would like to mention one interesting thing that Kaufman points out is that shame is a regulatory affect, which regulates in particular the interest/joy affects. Shame is meant to be triggered (in all of us) when there is insufficient support for a persons outgoing interest/joy/excitement affect, and its meant to pull a person back when shame detects insufficient support for ones excitement in the immediate environment. Everyday shame feels like shyness or embarrassment. It's primarily a *social reader/barometer* of ones immediate or anticipated surroundings. Kaufman also talks about *shame-binds*, which develop under conditions of repeated experience of non-reception, such as childhood neglect or trauma. Where ones joy/interests have been chronically unseen or shamed. with shame-binds shame attaches itself to the joy/interest affect and shame can in fact corrode the original excitement to such an extent one can no longer feel the original longing. The undoing of shame requires a receptive witness (usually a caring therapist) or a caring community of people who have experienced similar shaming experiences (such as men's groups). If you want to know more about this work I highly recommend any work by Robert Lee and Gordon Wheeler (Voice of Shame).
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      Apr 3 2012: Hi Johanna!
      And thank you for your eloquent post! I'm so glad to meet someone who has read Gershen Kaufman too! Your description is spot on. I'm going to suggest that folks on the other discussions that were inspired by Brene Brown's talk read what you've said. You did a masterful job of summing up Gershen's work.

      I'm very curious to know what got you interested in studying shame...to me it's long overdue for a much deeper examination than it typically gets in most therapeutic settings. That's why I started this discussion, in the hopes that therapists like Gershen & Gordon (among others) could be introduced to a wider audience. My experience over the years has been that a lot more therapists THINK they understand shame's complexities, than actually do...what's your experience been?

      I also like the Lee & Wheeler book "Voice of Shame," and have given away copies of it, along with Gershen's "Shame: The Power of Caring."

      Your mentioning the Lee & Wheeler book reminded me that I have an interesting audio interview with Gordon Wheeler titled: "Achilles' Shield: What Homer’s Iliad Can Teach Us About Manhood, Shame and Glory" that I should find the URL for and post it on this list. I see from your TED profile that you're a Gestalt Therapist. Have you actually met Gordon Wheeler? I'd love to attend one of his Esalen workshops someday...
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    Mar 23 2012: Hello All!

    This is something I have been in the dark about, until I saw your conversation on this topic! I have a lot of shame and partly because my culture raises others in that fashion, but guilt is also another tactic to raising individuals in my culture. It has always bothered me how the people you see as most close, are the products of this self-loathing due to this vicious circle of shame and guilt. I am currently going through a lot of this in my life and I had no awareness to the fact that it could be the burden of shame. I am intrigued to find out more on this subject. I think I may even write a research paper for my class, if I have enough sources. =)

    Thanks for reading my thoughts. Feel free to ask any of your thoughts. =)
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      Mar 24 2012: Hi Derek!
      Welcome to the dialogue. You sound like a pretty thoughtful person; and I think it takes courage to recognize the effects of shame & guilt in our lives. And I know that learning more about shame has definitely helped me deal with it, though it has been a "long strange trip," to quote the Grateful Dead...mostly because it was difficult, almost impossible, for years, for me to find anyone who I could talk to who really understood it. If you go through some of my posts here I think I've given some of my history with the subject.

      Fortunately the subject of shame has become a little easier to talk about; just a little though...I'm hoping that if enough of us who are interested in learning how to deal with it better in our lives keep exploring shame, will widen the window of knowledge, and remove some of the stigma of discussing it openly.

      If you decide to write a research paper - and I hope you do - I can point you to LOTS of sources. In fact if you send me an email message, I can send you articles/attachments via email. Here's my email address: sandysdharma@yahoo.com
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        Mar 25 2012: Thanks! I will take that into consideration. This is very much a less than popular topic in a public setting, but awareness and education should clear the air, so they say.

        I am not the best writer; nor the most focused, but I have passion and creativity!

        I find it very interesting how long everyones posts are and it is sometimes hard to keep up with who's responding to who. =P

        Thanks for reading my thoughts and sharing yours.
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          Mar 26 2012: Yes I have trouble keeping it all straight too. But I'm happy to be part of an effort to understand this subject better.

          If you care to send me an email, I could send you a list of books and articles. I have plenty of articles I've found that I could send as attachments. Just a thought.
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      Apr 1 2012: Hello Derek!
      I'm so glad you asked...

      Here's a link to the book that started me on my quest to understand shame "mo better" ;-)

      It's still one of the best sources on the subject; not least because the author was willing to be vulnerable, instead of taking the usual stance of 'I'm going to write about this painful subject, but only as a distant observer of human suffering' that so many psych books are written from... I actually met Gershen many years ago when he gave a workshop, and all the attendees went to lunch with him. A wonderful, genuinely humble guy.

      Gershen was very revealing in how much shame had affected his life. Until that time I'd never read a book by a psychologist so willing to be completely open. I wrote the 1st amazon review of this book, and to this day there are still only 3 reviews, sadly. In a more just world he'd be a LOT better known, IMHO...

      http://www.amazon.com/Shame-Power-Caring-Gershen-Kaufman/dp/0870470531/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333305710&sr=1-1

      This is just a start; more to follow!

      Sandy
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        Apr 2 2012: Thanks Sandy,

        Got any links scholarly sources? That would be really helpful if I write my research paper on this subject. =)
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          Apr 3 2012: Hi Derek,
          I just notice that you posted this. Here's a link to the great Thomas Scheff, the only sociologist I know of (well, except for his equally great wife, Susanne Retzinger) who's undertaken a study of shame:
          http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/scheff/

          This is a long list of articles he's written. I'm going to email you a .pdf copy of one that doesn't seem to be on the list, called: "Shame, the Master Emotion of Everyday Life."
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          Apr 3 2012: Derek,
          I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'scholarly sources.' I've got tons of stuff, including books, articles, etc. Would a list of books help? The articles I could send as attachments. I'm delighted to share it all, but I don't want to overwhelm you...unless of course you want it all!

          Sandy
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          Apr 3 2012: Derek,
          Another important book is Donald Nathanson's "Shame & Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self."
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    Mar 23 2012: @SAndy,

    I did the parrable of the Gypsy here first. But I realised that it had broader application on the Brene' Brown thread - so I moved it there.
    You know that thing about "lights and bushels"?
    Not that I'm particularly Christian, but I do know wisdom when I see it ;)
    And when you get "out there" you find more friends than your fears suggested.
    Inside the fear, you cannot see light.
    Those in fear assume there is no light.
    And there is no light until you get out there to see it - vunerability and all.

    And once you are out there, you can say a million words and spout all the logic in heaven and hell, but a soft touch and encouraging hug beats it all.
    My son taught me that :)
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      Mar 23 2012: "And there is no light until you get out there to see it - vunerability and all."

      This reminds me of the quote:

      "A turtle doesn't make a single move, until he sticks his neck out"
  • Mar 23 2012: Something associated by me;:

    I think sorrow feelings of post traumatic stress of hearing sounds are because one starts to hear a sound as normal, and than finds out it has not expected the meaning of the sound to be abnormal.

    Hope this was helpful to you sir
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      Mar 23 2012: Hi Dirk - I'd like to hear more about what you mean in this post...
      • Mar 23 2012: Hey Sandy,


        It is a tru sentence I think, normal/abnormal, aldo it is not directly clear to the matter of being shy and its involved. It is a given I found out after my first post here, but I did not mean it to be more than a small comment in this historical context. But the more I read it the less I understand it. (Aldo, :)

        ..I must have ment by it;: We bring ourselves so to speak on the bus with a stiffy cause we thought of sex before getting on the bus, and than shy facing the bare comfrontation with the people on the bus..' Also being able to be shy is I think due to dominating and troubles makers of the shy's past.

        And the above post also is, we grab prolounged chance if we can, to settle down psychologicly, basicly being naturally speaking at ease, and thus I conclude, shy is in fact a prolounged(stretching over time) time of experiencing side effects as person who settled down to a relaxed state, but being comfrontated with not simple moments of itselve or others. Thinking everything is normal while others advance in 'groovy' and a community of competition and harsh reactions. (groovy meaning a standard quality concept of culture) , about inferiorness and or in difference with popular culture(etc..).


        Sandy, I'm glad you asked to hear more, but it was not easy to make this reply.





        ..It is rather so we react shy to calm(as interesting?) people, perhaps being shy is being comfrontated with quiet people
  • Mar 23 2012: I think I can help you, prudently:
    What is being shy? I associated and defined few things about being (able to be) shy:

    1: I believe being shy is a prediction of a person about its future things of its behaviour it will be comfrontated with, but I might be mistaking with this one.

    A second thing I can mention: I think being shy is a sub conscious conviction the others are not humanitarianly developed enough.

    3th: One's selfimage of its downfall(s).

    4th: Being able to be shy is perhaps also cause the person is..isolated with its (subconscious..) thoughts and is feeling exposed.

    And thus the question;: What are the forms of 'realities about sorts of exposures', and are there solutions to be achieved?


    5th: My dad said one time: By knowing yourselve you know half of the world. (I hope this is useful.)



    This is all I have for now.
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    Mar 23 2012: Hi Sandy,
    I believe that words are a map of the functional/physical reality of humans - including how their brains are organised.
    If shame and guilt were the same thing, they would have the same word.
    There are some words that represent absolute physical truth, some that represent generalities and some that represent assumptions.
    All words relating to feelings/emotions must, for the sake of communication, have some common reference - based in physical fact.
    If we look at the personal pronouns, any attachment to these will represent a neural/neurochemical/endocrine fact - or an observable process which is a property of that fact.
    THe psychologists seek to refine these words into useful definitions as they discover the factual basis of the word - the word becomes better defined and yields better access to modification.
    Communication is the absolute requirement for a human to survive.
    I have proposed that all the personal pronouns are mapped to "proxies" which we physically set-up in our brains to facilitate communication. I would like to see some MRI testing done to map where these proxies get stored (I, You, He, She, Us, They).
    If you accept that brains posess beyesian prediction function, then these predictions will be applied to the interaction of the proxies. Prediction must also track error. In the context of pronoun-proxies, this error can be translated as "trust".
    Each proxy will have a trust loading.
    I have proposed that shame is equal to a negative trust loading of the primary self-proxy, and that guilt is equal to the trust loading of the secondary self proxy tracking the regard others have of self. E.g. shame = I cannot trust myself, guilt=they do not trust me.
    Big problem with the English language is that it does not track the I/other network very well. We have general words like esteem and regard. E.G. It does not account for "the you in you that represents me" or "The they in they that represents us". And this makes big problems when exploring issues.
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      Mar 23 2012: @ Mitch:

      Half way through your entry I wanted to quit....then I wanted to hit the reply button and type "english please".....but I trudged on and WOW.........I liked your conclusion....... "shame = I cannot trust myself, guilt=they do not trust me."

      @Sandy:

      I have a hard time with "shame" per say..........I find it somewhat equal with shyness or someone who embarrasses easily.

      Is this common???
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        Mar 23 2012: AS I said Mary - English has a problem with these concepts.
        You kinda have to draw a diagram - make a big bubble for person1, then inside it make a bubble for each personal pronoun. Then make another big bubble for person2 - fill in the pronouns (I, you, he, she, us, they).
        THen start connecting the bubbles between person1 and person2. Then think with each connection "I think that he/she thinks that I think that ..." then it becomes plain. We don't have words for all these connections.
        By coming to the conclusion "shame = I cannot trust myself, guilt=they do not trust me." - I show the result, but, unfortunately the mechanics are not revealed - because the words are inadequate to reveal what's actually going on.

        I expose myself a bit in doing this because the model I present can be directly converted into psych theses, computer models and mathematics - I am sharing my insight, full well knowing that I won't get attribution for subsequent publication - I am not a career psychologist or AI engineer, so it's a free gift. But it does demonstrate the mechanics of vulnerability in practice - as Brene is suggesting we should do. By freely sharing my insight, at the risk of being seen as some tinpot nut-job, value will go into my community, and I will ulimately get the benefit of it - and so will my children - and everybody else's children.
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          Mar 23 2012: Mitch, gee thanks!! I appreciate the effort you took in expounding.

          Yes, you may have left yourself vulnerable, but I appreciate it none-the-less. As I am sure Sandy will also.
          I can't really wrap by brain around some of the things you say....but I get the gist of it.
          Thanks again.

          Be Well.
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        Mar 23 2012: Hi Mary - I had a similar experience of Mitch's post; I was intrigued but had a hard time following the his terminology. As I got deeper into it I was able to understand it better, and I too liked his conclusion. I'm going to respond to his post later...

        In answer to your question, a resounding yes, what you describe is common; in fact, in the book "Shame: The Power of Caring," Gershen Kaufman describes the 'shame family of feelings' as follows (from lowest to highest intensity): shyness, discouragement, embarrassment, self-consciousness, guilt, and inferiority. Most of these are usually transitory, but they for some people they can become chronic enough to be crippling.

        So in that way of looking at it, guilt is actually a kind of shame. I know lots of folks won't agree with that, but what the hey, there's room for respectful disagreement here, I hope.

        Kaufman's work is based on that of Silvan Tomkins, who created Affect Theory, which I find to be the best explanation of the source of human emotion. His theory posits that we have 9 basic Affects that are like the primary colors used by artists...and that what we experience as emotions/feelings are combinations of those Affects. I've been mulling over Tomkins' theory for more than 30 years, and it has held up for me. If you're interested I could go into it more.
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          Mar 23 2012: I really appreciate the breakdown of the shame family of feelings. And your language use: "for some people they can become chronic enough to be crippling"..well, this is truth......this I have seen.

          I will share this with you, maybe you can help me, so that perhaps I can help others.

          We have many friends that are from the country....farmers...and well, the women are very very shy. My husband says they have an inferiority complex, that they feel shame, and that is why they do not speak. And really Sandy, they don't!!! They isolate themselves and it is like drawing water from a well to get them involved in a conversation.

          I am sometimes guilty of accusing them of social laziness. They make no effort to know anyone's name, or to initiate conversation. These are married women with children and grandchildren.........So, what do you think? Could it be inferiority complex? How does one go about helping such individuals in a discreet and tactful way?

          Any thoughts?
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          Mar 23 2012: Sandy (and all else who find themselves here)
          My email is mitch at ozwhistles dt cm.
          Truth and sharing is what made humans what they are - not competition.
          I am looking for friends who know this. It is useless alone.
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          Mar 23 2012: From the Dutch notion in translation it is understood as: shame = feeling guilty, guilt = being guilty.

          English usage can differ though we have the same words. (schaamte, schuld)
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        Mar 23 2012: There are places .. little pockets of truth .. in humanity.
        I get drawn by the messianic .. the sacrifice.
        But these acts must be on behalf of the honest.
        I honour you.
        I will do my best.
        Such as it is.
        I did my thread - "who will help me define the model of humanity".
        No one replied.
        Seems my head-space is impenetrable. Nothing new there.
        I just lay it all out .. but then have to resort to translation.
        It does not stop at shame/guilt - it goes waaaay beyond that.
        I am past 40 - know I can die at any moment. And I want to deliver what I have found.
        Life is all about "being out there" I absolutely understand what Brene' is talking about with vulnerability .. I just despair that humans will every understand it. LIfe is so much better "out there" and everyone spending enormous energy trying to justify themselves wasting all that beutiful life! On behalf of shame and competition and the horrible stuff that psychopaths shroud around us to stop us being who we are. That's GOT to stop. We never needed any of it.
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          Mar 23 2012: Hi Mitch,
          I appreciate and admire your willingness to put yourself out there. Though I doubt I got the full meaning of your writings - some of the terminology you use is not immediately familiar to me - but I could still see that there was some pretty intriguing and valuable stuff going in there.

          I just checked out your TED profile page, and saw a couple of posts that looked like they should've posted to this page, but for some reason didn't...I hope that's just a temporary glitch in the system.

          I discovered we have some things in common - in the late 70's I was living in New Orleans and working as a counselor with VN refugees for about three years. A lot of VN farmers & fishermen moved to N.O. because it turns out the climate was about the same as S. VN.

          My job was with the Indochinese Resettlement Project run by Catholic Charities. I was dismayed to find that CC was about as patronizing an organization as I've ever seen. The mission was supposedly to foster independence in the VN population, but the reality was that the CC actually supported dependence...

          Well I hope your missing comments manage to migrate over to this page! Thanks for contributing...I hope you do again. I do want to understand your model better.
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          Mar 23 2012: "Truth and sharing is what made humans what they are - not competition.
          I am looking for friends who know this. It is useless alone."

          Amen, brother!
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        Mar 23 2012: Mary, I'm really curious about where you live, in relation to where the women you speak of live. Since you referred to them as living in 'the country,' does that mean that you live in a city?

        It may be exactly as your husband describes, that these women feel a lot of shame and inferiority. It's also true that many people are just naturally shy - by disposition or temperament...it's hard to say without more information. I know I was a pretty shy kid, and while I liked it when others showed an interest in me, that wasn't true if I felt like I had to 'perform' in some was so as to be more pleasing to them...

        As for helping them...hmm...I do get your good intentions in wanting to help them, Mary. I've also learned that people frequently resent others' attempts to 'help' especially when they show no evidence of wanting such help. I think we do need to be careful to respect the dignity and boundaries of others by not pushing ourselves on them - not that I'm saying you're doing that.

        I get that you'd love to be able to draw them out, and in your position I'd probably want the same thing. After working as a counselor in a lot of different settings and with many kinds of people, I'd have to say that the only thing that really seems to work is to be willing to accept people exactly where they're at. Showing a genuine interest while being careful not to pressure people to be different that they are offers that best chance that people will begin to relax and open up.

        Paradoxically, it's easy to trigger shame in others by doing things that send a message that you want them to be different than they are...but I am curious to know more about this situation you describe.
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          Mar 23 2012: Sandy, your comments are so very helpful to me.

          The families live here in the city with us now.

          They have been here for years....but their mind, their mental inclination is still in their farm community.

          My husband, a farmer, has always told me that these friends of ours are very suspicious individuals. They have a hard time accepting others kindnesses because they feel that any act of kindness has an ulterior motive behind it. I find it so terrible that people walk around with that kind of mindset....they are prisoners of their way of thinking.

          I don't want to change anybody.....I guess what I want is for them to understand the value of interchange of conversation and ideas.

          And yes you are right.....people resent attempts to help. That is why I find the easiest way to help individuals like these is to just be me, and to respect their dignity and freedom to be who they are.

          One particular oddity is shared by all these women.....they seldom smile or laugh out loud....and when they do, they quickly catch themselves and go back to their stern, somber look. I find this so very unnatural. It reminds me of oriental women covering their mouths when they laugh in order not to show their teeth (I remember reading about this once)

          One last experience I want to share with you: The first time one of them called us, we were not home and the answering came on....they had no idea their voices were being recorded...you know what the husband said to the wife?..... "these people are strange, they didn't pick up their phone"........Isn't that incredible? Here I was thinking how very shy they were, and they were thinking how very strange we were, but for all the wrong reasons, they assumed we were home and didn't pick up on purpose.....What do you think of that?

          Thank you....and please let me know what other insight you have on this.

          I find this topic very interesting.
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    Mar 22 2012: OK I am really interested in this. In the United States, a large amount of capital is made available to people and researchers working with "Vulnerable Populations." This does give some latitude in definition but typically applies to economically challenged, low or no income people who are vulnerable to health risks. Drug abusers and HIV for instance, African Americans and high blood pressure etc.

    I have said for years that the term vulnerable populations has been coined by people who perceive themselves as invulnerable. I hate the term and the arrogant people who coined it.

    Now connecting vulnerability and shame. That would mean a whole different approach to vulnerable populations. My question to those of you involved in this research, how do you address shame?

    Shame is a completely internal emotion. No one can make you feel shame but yourself. This is exclusively my own experience as many people have tried to make me feel ashamed for a variety of different reasons, but I never feel shame for any of that stuff. For me, shame is always about issues typically not perceived by other people.

    So maybe there might be a different way to address blood pressure?

    Just trying to connect some dots here. Any insights welcome.
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      Mar 23 2012: Hi Linda,
      There are most definitely vulnerable populations.
      I have been a strong advocate for the support of asylum seekers in this country, and have had some results to show for my efforts. I recognised the need through direct interaction with the plight of these people - no arrogance there - only empathy - and I resent the blanket condemnation you are promoting.
      Of course, vulnerability at the population level is tied to relative advantage - so it's a continuum. I highly recommend you look at teh work of Jane Elliot to understand the absolute mechanics of population-scale vulnerability.
      What Brene brown is talking about is personal vulnerability. While that has cogence to population vulnerability, it is not the same thing. Brene is talking about the vulnerability that produces so much fear of failure that you do not even try anything. SHe is talking about self-trust. SHe is also talking about how empathy is required to assist others out of shame-traps.
      THe underlying dynamic is that one must take risk to be alive, and that if self-distrust prevents risk, one's life will be without substance. RIst is greatest at the outset of action - once an action has been taken, then and only then do you have a reference to take that action again with less risk - we call this "learning", "training", "skill-acquisition" or "growth". Brene is saying that shame prevents us from growing - and the resulting health that growth delivers.
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        Mar 23 2012: Well Mitch, as someone who is from one of those vulnerable populations, let me explain why "I recognized the need through direct interaction with the plight of these people" is arrogant.

        Because it puts you in an 'I'm better than them" frame of reference. Completely outside the circle of influence for change. Typically followed by 'there but for the grace of God...' Resent to your hearts content.

        That frame of reference then causes a whole host of problems from do-gooders to those trying to alleviate guilt. And those trying to hide the shame. Most of the time it causes inappropriate allocations of inappropriate resources that make matters worse. But hey, you feel better because you have 'direct interaction.' Im sure that's what counts.

        I am unfamiliar with any Jane Elliot in vulnerable population research. The only Jane Elliot work I can recall has to do with prejudice. Maybe it is the same Jane Elliot.

        Please reference.

        I really don't think there is a difference between personal shame and population shame.
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          Mar 23 2012: Hi Linda,Thank you for engaging. And I agree with your basic premise of the misguided empathy of the outsider. It is self serving for personal advantage. But it is not the whole picture.
          I expose my resentment. Not because I want to hurt you but because I want to help you grow - along the lines of your heart - which is obviously big.
          Story:
          My second wife was a gifted teacher. She chose to teach in disadvantaged schools. She saw the do-gooder damage being done by state welfare systems populated by the self-serving.
          One day the welfare system removed a 7-year-old child from his home because a self-serving teacher saw bruises on his chest. Out of "due process" she allerted the state who then proceeded to inflict their assumptions on the poor family. Turns out that is was customary in their iriginal culture to treat the common cold by rubbing a copper penny on the chest. They acted in love, and their love was turned into a nightmare.
          Anotehr child was presenting as being the victim of sexual abuse. My wife saw this, and had to report it. We pre-empted the removal from her family and gave her harbour in our own home .. as friends.
          The girl WAS being sexually abused by her father. Her shame was evident - she would spend an hour in the shower washing, washing, washing.
          WHat was the back-story? THey were political victims in el salvadore - they were smuggled out by the Catholic CHurch, her mother got used by Amnesty as exhibit A of how much torture a woman could endure and still remain alive - as a poster-girl for donations. Her father was so destroyed by his impotence that he began abusing the girl. The girl was not 9 years old as recorded at teh school, she was 14 - because the mother was so shattered, she did not know which daughter escaped the government torture squads. We got Psychiatric evaluation, but the state would not fund the therapy. The girl became so destrcutive, we had to release her into the welfare syste. SHe is probably now dead of drug overdose. tbc
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          Mar 23 2012: This therapy is now beign funded by the sate - because of my activism and lobbying.
          Functional results - at great expense to myself.

          At the same time, I was employing boat people out of Vietnam - and they were the most productive and beutiful people - they all became my friends and we did great work together in that company.
          A few years before that, an acquaintance (who was the master-at-arms of the Local Hell's ANgels bike gang) his son got seriously assaulted by Vietnamese drug-gangs in the Viet Ghetto here. SO My friend engineered a power war - 160 Viet's got killed in teh resulting war the ANgels engineered between them.
          So I asked my Psych PHD friend what it was about trauma - and she said it goes 2 ways - hyper-functional or non-functional with no middle-ground - the difference being timely therapy. All these boat people were traumatised - just read their stories of escape and you will know.
          ANd who is the greatest people smuggler on planet Earth? The Catholic CHurch.
          I am not fooled by any of this. I know how do-goody churches are populated by satanists I know how all the stuff painted like sheep are wolves.
          But it is not all like that - there is honest empathy.
          I just want you to know that.
          I am just a vulnerable little guy - but I love everyone - regardless of what they did or what was done to them. ANd I know I am not alone - and I want you to know that too.
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        Mar 24 2012: Mitch. There is so much in this that I need to address I scarcely know where to begin. You seem like a genuinely caring individual. Truly empathic. (I did think at first it was sympathy, but I understand you do have a connection with those you care about).

        I am going to honestly tell you what I understand as I understand it. Please please do not take any of this personally, or judgmentally because it is not meant in that way. I am only trying to communicate what I know sincerely and accurately.

        When you call a young girl a victim, you are perpetuating victim mentality. People think oh the poor girl. No wonder she acts that way. You have to understand...

        When what the young girl needs is limits and structure and correction like any 14 year old. Get your but out of bed, get to class, do your homework, be home by nine. Or there will be consequences. I expect your room to be cleaned every weekend. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Do not back talk to me. You will participate in chores. You will be family.

        NOT victim.

        The boat people, the torture. They need structure. They need accountability. The chaos they come from demands it and we need to help them structure. Not poor boat people. Not "they had trauma." Hyper-functional or non-functional is bull****. It is all about expectations.

        NOT traumatized.

        But us. Family.

        Can you see the juxtaposition of view?

        You - Victim, trauma, they them her his

        Me - We, family structure us

        Same stories, same people different view different outcomes.

        Bad stuff happens to people every day. I don't care. They are still my family.

        Family keeps you real. Family calls you out when your deluding yourself. Family laughs and family cries.

        And underneath it all is love.
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          Mar 24 2012: LOL!

          There's your great big heart Linda!

          Ah well. It's such an irony .. you know (you do know) You have to be there to understand .. and if you weren't there .. you can't understand .. not really. But "understanding" is like a boy-scout-badge for those who just want to be seen to be "fashionable".
          I KNOW you know this.

          My message was - yes you are so damn right!
          But there is no right.
          All there is .. is love .. and I mean that in every sense of the word - all into the universe and beyond what any word can say.

          yes yes yes - what you predict of the fluffy toads that fall out of peoples' mouths like a fire hoze is .. just toads. THey are full of slimy things and evry time their orafices open - out comes the venom - in a flood to consume everything.

          But everything is NOT consumed .. most, but not all.

          Yes - I said victim because of my resonance - I could feel it all. I cannot hear anoter's heart without my heart being there with them.

          This hurts - it hurts beyond what a human can stand.

          But it's worth it.

          You are giving me your gift.

          i don't project - I resonate. Just as you do.

          All I'm saying Linda - is "you are not alone".

          And since you gave me the same gift. hey .. there's a chance we can win. That's encouraging.

          Here! have some courage back at you!!

          Oh . and there's the healing .. that's our great gift.
          It doesn't take long if you let it happen. Healers are observers - allowers . letting be. Be still .. all is well.

          What is shame? that I let my heart be blocked. In growing up we have much shame. Love never ever dies - it can only be obscured. This is our hope - clouds get bored and move on .. then .. there it is - the sun.
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        Mar 24 2012: Now my friend, you understand.
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          Mar 25 2012: YEs - but now you also understand that some things CAN be done.
          Me and those like me, got the legislation done to get theraputic help for refugees/assylum seekers. It was secretly slipped in under the cover of a general community mental-health initiative. Had it been publicised, it would have lost them votes in the idiot/redneck/think they know better/delight in interference/churchy-big-headded-loosers/phsychopath/sociopath demographic .. the average Joe. Just the guys who can't resist laying the boot into the defenceless - and this is how I define vulnerable .. not the emotional kind, but the being beaten up in dark rooms where no one can hear you scream kind.

          Oh and look - regardless of all that, harm is like a cancer - it propogates out from the horrible and the attrocity in waves that go from person to person and through generations until it gets healed (this is where all those toads and venom come from). THe only answer for harm is healing. ANd that's the measure of us.
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        Mar 25 2012: Be very careful. Because doing something should not be done 'unto.'
        Point of clarification:
        The only answer for harm is protection.
        The answer for injury is healing.
        Both of those should be done BY us.
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          Mar 25 2012: I dissagree .. but not entirely.
          Protection is the door by which the non-genuine gain access for interferrence.
          A natural person will protect the defenceless from teh psychopath/sociopath/screw-up.
          But the srew-up can use the protection excuse to prevent healing.
          In my world, harm and injury are one and the same. THe only separation of the terms is physical or emotional - space/metaspace.
          Healing has no vector of abuse. That is what I said it is an act of "allowing". This can be very active - and include protection (e.g. to give the hurt person the space and safety to heal). If the healing does not preceed and encapsulate the protection, then it will bring-in the harmful side of protection.
          My story of the FIjian child who was removed to "protect him" from his family abuse that turned out to be traditional medicine .. illistrates my point.
          ANd it was you yourself who pointed out the intrusive arrogance of "do-gooders".
          Perhaps you mistake my pardigm of healing for the state-enforced model. ANd I have read the state legislation regarding the legal treatment of the mentally unwell .. it is at great pains to prevent abuse of protection .. but is not adequate to prevent it.
          No - my idea of healing starts at home - with our family, and friends and those we come to love. THis is the point at which the state should apply support - and keep their blanket judgements out of it.
          It was just so in my efforts to get healing for my bi-polar wife. It required a great deal of searching, allowing and getting myself and my judgement out of her way .. providing time and unconditional support .. finding the right meds and standing back to allow it to work. And it did - and she is the only BPD sufferer I have seen overcome the condition. I don't know how many you have encountered - I encountered a lot of them.
          My world view .. and my vocabulary come from my direct experience of the world - I share so you can get an idea of my way of speaking without any friciton.
          Tell me your stories.
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          Mar 25 2012: OH - i just understood what you meant.
          Yes - the natural person will stand between teh harmer and the harned as protection to prevent it.
          But that's not the way the world works - in nearly all cases, the harm is already done - protection is too late.
          The inflicter is not stupid - they will only openly inflict harm if it's acceptable to those watching. SO most the harm is done out of sight where no one can prevent it.
          Yes, there are cases of mass-harm done by sick societies - but there is no way to sand in the way of that - can you imagine what would stop the Hutu's massacre of the Tutsis? How could you stand in the way of that?
          Once again - have a look at the dynamics of harm as Jane Eliot explored and revealed it - this is the tribal thing of segregation for persecution - even children do it - but it is instigated by a sick person of authority - and that sick person is in need of healing - and this is how healing is the only answer to harm.
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      Mar 23 2012: Linda, I just realized that I never answered your question about addressing shame.
      I hope you'll bear with me while I answer that very good and important question in more than one post

      For myself, it's been a long slow process; most of the time I was doing it pretty much on my own. I learned from experience that very, very few therapists knew a damn thing about shame...and worse, very few were even interested in learning about it. A common attitude I encountered when I tried to engage them about it was, "oh yeah, I know about shame...everybody knows about shame; no big deal." Au contraire...

      I found it puzzling that there was so little curiosity about it among therapists for so long, because I realized that shame; more specifically, un-indentified shame, was the most common cause of what's called 'therapeutic failure' - meaning, people decide that therapy is not helping them and give up on it...often blaming themselves and personalizing their 'failure' when it was actually the therapy/therapist that failed them.

      It's only been in the last couple of years that I've managed to find others to explore these issues with, and I'm so grateful that I finally did. I'm hoping for an ongoing dialogue...

      The potential for being shamed is present in every human interaction. Shame has everything to do with whether we feel safe with another, or not. When something happens to disrupt a relationship, of any kind, you can bet that shame is present...though rarely acknowledged, because as Brene Brown points out, to acknowledge it leaves us feeling vulnerable and unprotected. So we're mostly unconscious of the role shame plays in our interactions - unless it's so extreme and blatant that we can't ignore it. But even then we'll usually react with anger to the experience of feeling like someone has shamed us, because we don't have permission to talk about shame, but everyone knows how to talk about anger! Plus, anger feels so much more powerful that shame, or hurt, or vulnerability..
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      Mar 23 2012: So...to continue on addressing shame...

      As I said, the first step is to be aware of our potential, in every human interaction, to trigger a shame reaction in others or have one triggered in ourselves. We do it/have it done a lot more than people usually realize. The next time you're with someone and you notice that you suddenly feel less close to them than you did a moment ago, ask yourself if something just happened that made you instinctively pull away from that person. I've learned that any time I feel emotionally unsafe with another, it's because some part of me feels vulnerable to being shamed by that person.

      More later...
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        Mar 23 2012: I am not sure I agree. I cannot even remember the last time I felt shame. I do not walk around on eggshells trying to prevent people from feeling shame either (and am not about to start). You have to understand also, that if anything, I was raised to feel shame. I seemed to have figured out that I needed to give it up at some point. But I will think about it.

        It may have something to do with the nature of my work being intimate. That to develop trust quickly, shame must be removed. Interesting.
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          Mar 23 2012: Hi Linda,
          I can see where it might sound like I'm advocating trying to prevent people from feeling shame. I sure don't want to encourage that - though I think that's what a lot of us who grew up in stressed households learned to do, as kids...especially if our parents were prone to venting their frustrations on us.

          I too was raised to feel shame, by a mother who was overwhelmed by life and by her own shame. When it got to be too much for her she would lash out at us kids...so we DID walk on eggshells around her. Now I can see that her destructive behavior towards us was triggered by her shame at how her life had turned out. My father died when I was two years old, and my mom already had three kids and was pregnant with my brother. She was completely broke, and though she worked all her life, it was always for minimum wage.

          Though I never knew any of my grandparents, I know that they raised my mom with a ton of shame, which she never learned how to deal with other than to explode in rage when things got to be too much for her. I know I tried my best to figure out how to 'make her happy' in the hopes that then I'd get MY needs met - but it never worked. But though it hadn't occurred to me until you put it into words, I now see that I was ALWAYS 'walking around on eggshells trying to prevent her from feeling her shame.' An obviously impossible job!

          So I think that's a bit different from just being conscious of the ever-present chance of shame being triggered in any human interaction; not so much to prevent it as to be ready and able to restore connections that get broken by it...a certain amount of shame is inevitable, I think. For one thing, we're not all exactly alike, so what might shame me might not be such a big deal to you, & vice-versa.

          Human communication is NEVER in synch 100% of the time, so we frequently end up annoying each other, misunderstanding each other, being insensitive to each other, etc. I've learned (and have to keep relearning) that...
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          Mar 23 2012: ...it's much more important that I know how to repair my communication mistakes than it is to somehow never make any... one of my mentors, Gershen Kaufman, describes shame as the thing that 'breaks the interpersonal bridge' between people.

          And he pointed out that just because we shame each other (usually unintentionally) and cause a break in our 'interpersonal bridge' it doesn't have to mean the relationship is damaged beyond repair. In fact if we find a way through the hurt and pain and manage to reconnect with each other, the relationship has probably been strengthened. Because we've proven to each other that we can handle some strife and come out OK.

          Anyway - thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.
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        Mar 23 2012: OK I thought about it. Here is what I think.

        I think shame is a learned response. I think we learn it first from our parents, then from our group, then from society.

        I do remember being ashamed that I was not thin enough, dumb enough, rich enough, or blond enough. And those definitely did not come from me. I also remember being ashamed of making a mistake. I have gotten over all of these and some more to boot.

        As I cannot know the family, group or society, I have no idea if I am causing shame

        Your idea that shame can be deflected into anger is of course possible. But shame can also be deflected into many many other symptoms, including physical ones, anorexia, cutting, abuse, etc etc. But it can also be deflected into exercise, work, productivity.

        Shame is an uncomfortable sensation and people will do what they think alleviates it. Much like pain. They will avoid the activity/situation that causes shame or they will embrace it and have ownership of it. Either way will alleviate the shame.

        The problem is, and it is a huge problem, is that whole shame applied to populations. It does not matter what you do with the individual, if they are part of a group that is shamed, there is no escape unless they escape the group. Many many people will not do that because their families, friends, and relatives may all be part of the shamed population. Why would they escape it?

        Now link shame and oppressed groups. Shame is one of the desired results of the oppressor. (see comments to Mitch about arrogance and the 'I am better than them' phenomena) So the shame that results from oppressed people cannot be overcome by individual therapy.

        Now link oppressed groups with oppressed group behaviors and vulnerable populations. I wonder if there is a correlation. Hmmm
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          Mar 23 2012: Linda,
          Thanks for sharing your thoughts & perceptions. I completely agree that shame is a tool - probably the major tool - used by oppressors to divide and conquer those groups they want to control…which is basically, everyone but 'them & theirs.'

          The first thing I ever read on shame was an article from 1975 titled: "Shame and Social Control." Though I'd never seen or heard the ideas in it before, I instantly knew the author was right on in her thinking.

          I agree that shame is a learned response; that is, we learn to feel it more under certain conditions - that's the part that gets taught to us. But there's a lot of evidence that the capacity to feel shame is hard-wired into the human nervous system, and that it evolved as a tool for human parents to keep their offspring safe, by controlling their behavior by 'shutting them down' when they get far enough away physically from the parent that the parent can't just pick them up.

          It's an intricate system that relies on the interplay of two parts of our nervous system, like this: when kids become toddlers, they feel such joy at finally being able to control their own limbs enough that all they want to do is to explore EVERYTHING…and they do it pretty much non-stop. They can because their sympathetic nervous system has finally come 'on line;' it's the part of our NS that pushes out outward to explore the world…

          But that makes the parents job of protecting them a lot harder, almost overnight. When the kids couldn't walk or run, it was pretty simple to keep them corralled, and away from dangerous situations. Suddenly the job gets much tougher, because they're running all over the place, picking up stuff and putting it in their mouth, pursuing their exploration of everything.

          And while the child's explorations are a source of wonder and delight - the child's cerebral cortex hasn't developed enough, nor does the child have enough life experience under their belt, to recognize the danger in certain situations. (2 be cont)
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          Mar 23 2012: So, Whether early human or today's version, if the kid gets out of range of a physical intervention to protect them, parents have the tool of shame to fall back on - if the kid is running towards the saber-toothed tiger back in the day, or is today running towards the highway, oblivious to the danger…a loud shout of disapproval will stop them in their tracks. The sudden interruption of their adventure-pleasure by a powerful message from the parent that signals extreme displeasure with the child's behavior triggers the child's PARA-sympathetic NS, and effectively 'jams their circuits.' One of the results is to become suddenly confused and disoriented.

          That's because we have hard-wired into us a deep fear of being disapproved of by the beings we know our survival depends on. There's an interplay with another part of our biological hard-wiring, called the attachment system, which also evolved to keep us close to those we rely on for protection.

          Used wisely and sparingly, shame is actually helpful in our development into social beings. By wisely, I mean it isn't thrown at the child every time the parent is annoyed, and is only brought into play in more serious situations…and then followed by restoring the child's attachment connection with the parent by reassuring the child that, while you weren't happy about something they did, you aren't 'casting them out' of your love and protection.

          I want to get back to & affirm your observations about shame and oppressed groups. Individuals who've been hammered down with overuse of shame become disempowered, true. But when whole groups have suffered being shamed and humiliated for long enough, it results in something called Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma - because living with extreme shame IS traumatizing.

          While individual therapy can help individuals, as you say, it ain't likely to help entire groups of historically oppressed people. And one of the reasons I feel so passionate about understanding on a deeper level
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          Mar 23 2012: ...how shame affects us, is so we can create ways to heal ourselves and then help others heal themselves...including groups we belong to.

          I sure don't have all the answers for how to heal long-suffered trauma. But I believe we're finally figuring out how we humans actually operate, as opposed to a lot of confused theories that have been the basis of so much well-intentioned but essentially ignorant thinking that hasn't been grounded in reality.

          I hope all of us who care deeply about this will become collaborators and co-creators of some new vehicles for healing...I think we can do it.
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          Mar 24 2012: Linda, thanks for this great resource. I haven't looked at the issue of what I called IGT, and what this source terms Historical Trauma and Microaggressions since I was working as a chemical dependency counselor at a tribal treatment center. That was up in the Pacific NW, about 4 yrs. ago, before I moved to Mt. Shasta.

          I enjoyed getting to know the members of the tribe that I worked with, but the administrators for the tribe were all white - not a single tribal member held a top job in the structure of the tribe, which I found very disturbing. It didn't make any sense to me at all, and ultimately I got to hate the job because of that. The level of patronizing of tribal members by the administration was too much for me to stomach.
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        Mar 24 2012: And the healing begins...
        http://64.38.12.138/News/2011/000929.asp
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          Mar 24 2012: And may it continue until all are able to experience the level of human dignity that is their birthright...
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          Mar 25 2012: Sandy,

          There are no rights. There is no justice except what you claim.
          In love, your claim cannot be denied.
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          Mar 25 2012: I know what the cutting is - my wife taught me that.
          All the long-sleeved shirts and pretending to be OK.
          ANd then the ELliot tribal persecution.

          And nothing can be done until the individual gets space .. just a teeny little bit of self-ownership .. I don't care if you got that through prostitution, or cutting or meds or running away.

          Ad when you absolutely own that teeny little bit .. and trust it. then it grows and subsumes all the pain and out you come - contained in your skin and you rule your life.
          But you have to feel the pain to claim it all back - and not one bit of that pain came from you.
          Get in the space and feel, hear, see, smell, touch taste it .. it is now.

          You are now. Your pain is somewhere else, and it doesn't want you to feel this. But you can.

          Comfort is not our friend.

          GO through .. don't relent - there IS the other side. Though your persecutors will claim there is not . it is. ANd they hate it when you get through - on the other side is you. On this side is them - and what they want you to be for their comfort - they are weak. ANd we are strong - we cannot lose.
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    Mar 22 2012: Donald Nathanson, author of the 1994 book "Shame & Pride: Affect, Sex, & the Birth of the Self" once commented that before he discovered how important shame was: "I'd been a psychiatrist for 20 years, had attended dozens of seminars, and participated in innumerable case consults and conferences - and had never seen the word shame in print or uttered even once in any of those setting."

    Fortunately there have always been people like Nathanson who realize the importance of shame in human interactions, and they've persevered in their work on it. But mostly they're not widely known. I hope I live long enough to see that change!

    I've been connecting what I've learned about shame to other relevant topics, such as: recent discoveries in Neuroscience, Attachment Theory, Trauma work, etc. And I'm hoping that Brene Brown's TED Talk jumpstarts further interest in the subject of shame.
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    Mar 22 2012: Hi Melarish! thanks for responding - you're the first person to do so, so far - of course, I only posted a couple of hours ago... ;-)

    Well...over the years that I've been studying everything I could find on the subject of shame, I've accumulated quite a lengthy list of books, articles, talks, etc., so I hardly know where to begin in answering your question. But I'll give it a try - and will also try not to overwhelm you with information. because there's a LOT of it...

    I really appreciate Brene Brown's 'putting it out there' to a wider audience, and I hope that the subject gets some traction from her efforts. But after beginning to study shame myself, I discovered it's a subject that surfaces about once a decade and gets some attention - and then usually disappears from wider public discourse for several years. Even in the field of psychology and psychotherapy, I've been amazed at how little attention has been paid to studying shame; even now, after several brilliant psychologists have published their work on it.

    What got me started on it all was discovering in 1985 an incredible book titled: "Shame: The Power of Caring," by psychologist Gershen Kaufman (you can check it out on this amazon.com page:
    http://www.amazon.com/Shame-Power-Caring-Gershen-Kaufman/dp/0870470531/ref=sr_1_1 s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332445729&sr=1-1)

    I was helped so much by Kaufman's book that I've spent years searching for more information, and have been tracking work done on shame ever since. I wrote the first review of Kaufman's book for amazon back in 1999, and there's still only a grand total of 3 reviews lo these many years later, which I think says volumes about how quickly shame goes underground in our culture.

    Whoops, running out of characters here - will continue in another posting...
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    Mar 22 2012: What else have you found on the topic? I feel she's said everything I could have said and much more :)