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Posted by: cftexan ( )
Date: August 12, 2018 03:27PM

I was reading the other day and ran into the concept of "shame-based families". I've never thought about it before, but quickly realized that it completely described both my family, and the church.

Looking over my childhood and early adulthood (even now) I do feel a lot of "shame" over who I am, and its led to a lot of problems in my life. I am slowly getting over feeling ashamed, but there's still a part of me that feels it. Even when I was a really young kid, one of my favorite phrases was "shame on you"and I'd say it over and over. I am surprised at how its permeated my life.

Anyone else feel the same? At 35, should I be over the shame and guilt by now?

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: August 12, 2018 03:53PM

Shame and guilt are very different, and cultures are academically categorized by whether they are shame-based, or guilt-based.

"Shame," in a cultural sense, means that there is something inherently "wrong" in the person--mostly, that they were "born wrong" by virtue of "blood," "clan" ancestry, race, some ancient cultural taboo(s), or possibly their perceived ancestral history or "religion" (in the sense not so much of belief, but of religious taboos which were violated by ancestors). "Shame" is something which is considered inherent in the person--an individual cannot, realistically, "clean" themselves of whatever is considered "dirty" or "evil."

"Guilt," in a cultural sense, means something that the person, as an individual, has done AS an individual--and, most of the time, there is some level of societal "cleansing" that can be done to culturally remove this. (Think of confession in the Catholic Church, as one example--but in our culture we also use the imposition of fines, or restitution, or restriction of rights, or prison to bring about this kind of "cleansing.")

In contemporary families, "shame" would possibly apply to a child who was conceived outside of marriage, while "guilt" would apply to the mother (especially, in most real life situations). This is why the word "bastard" is such a highly-charged word in OUR society: it means that the child, no matter their chronological age, is inherently flawed in a fundamental way that NOTHING can "remove," or mitigate. Not so long ago, racially or ethnically mixed blood was also considered to be shameful in this kind of fundamental way.

In shame-based religions (as an example: the "you were born a sinner" Christian religions), it often requires a literal "miracle" (such as the concept of baptism) to transform an inherently "damaged" person into a normal human being (if it can be done at all--remember the "one drop" rule in American historical culture, which not only plagued THAT person, but also all of their descendants for all time to come). After baptism, that now-baptized person then transitions to a guilt-based culture, where they are, from that point on, personally responsible for what they do.

Guilt-based religions are much easier (and much healthier) for people overall, since the way "forward" is usually well-known, well accepted, and available to either "everyone," or close to everyone.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/2018 03:58PM by Tevai.

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Posted by: cftexan ( )
Date: August 12, 2018 04:10PM

Interesting, thanks Tevai for clearing up the differences.

I've picked up a book now about shame, and its really interesting. I can't wait to learn more about it. Once in awhile I just read something or hear a phrase and can immediately see it in my life... I love the eye openers.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: August 12, 2018 04:19PM

I was working as a treatment pro when his works were first being offered--including his PBS series--and we were all "eating it up."

"Cathected Shame" (i.e. "frozen) is at the root of an entire "family" (pun not intended, but I would be remiss in not acknowledging it) of psychological issues, personality types, and behavior patterns.

I've "done my own work" extensively on my own issues as part of my own recovery, and it is some of the hardest yet most rewarding "introspection" I've undertaken.

When I first came to RFM around 20 years ago, I posted about this subject, noting that the LDS Church was a "Typhoid Mary of Toxic Shame." Tevai is spot-on in the distinction between the two; in terms of what we "internalize" in our emotional make-up, guilt involves recognizing that one's actions were "wrong"; shame--which is suppressed below the level of consciousness and "acted out"--is "processed and mitigated" by "survival beliefs," and because these events happened when we were really young, instead of recognizing our actions as something separate from our being, we assimilate the shame with beliefs such as "I'm a P.O.S." (usually it's a variation of "I'm unloveable").

From a clinical standpoint, childhood shame is manifested as adult anger, rage, and control...

Sound familiar?

Here's a good YouTube of Bradshaw...,2143401

Go slow with this stuff, and I strongly recommend you "do this work" with a caring and skilled therapist.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/2018 04:21PM by SL Cabbie.

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Posted by: cftexan ( )
Date: August 12, 2018 05:28PM

SL Cabbie Wrote:

> From a clinical standpoint, childhood shame is
> manifested as adult anger, rage, and control...
> Sound familiar?
> Here's a good YouTube of Bradshaw...
> Go slow with this stuff, and I strongly recommend
> you "do this work" with a caring and skilled
> therapist.

Thanks. I assume you meant to copy this link...

I just listened to the whole thing and WOW! Just purchased his book on Kindle. I wrote about shame-based religion on the original post, but I'm mostly thinking of my family life growing up. Now all the various addictions I'm working through make a bit more sense. I've been searching for awhile, but finally feel like I have a jumping off point to healing.

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Posted by: Free Man ( )
Date: August 13, 2018 10:58PM

It isn't all about how you were treated - some kids can be beaten with a 2 x 4 daily and not be affected. Wide range of personality types based on genetics. Some people (or dogs, or whatever) feel bad just looking at them wrong.

So you can't always blame your parents or whoever, and sometimes you need to look inward and question how you react to the world. Though therapists make more money getting you to be angry at someone.

When you do harm to others, you should feel shame. Unfortunately, many don't, including many criminals.

It would be nice if messages could be tailored to the individual, but generally not. In the church, many need knocked down a few notches, and many need built up. Many don't need to feel more shame/guilt when they're already feeling worthless and depressed.

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Posted by: cftexan ( )
Date: August 13, 2018 11:58PM

Speaking of you can't always blame your parents, I do think about that, because I have six siblings, and most of them do not seem to have the same damage as me, and experienced the same things.

I'm not using them as a blame for my various addictions. I got into those cycles because of how I handled things

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Posted by: badam2 ( )
Date: August 14, 2018 04:31AM

I still feel the shame and I am also 35.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: August 14, 2018 03:49PM

When I was a child I was "shameful" because I wanted to get naked with other children.

As a teenager and young adult I was "guilty" because I wanted to get naked and do naughty things with other teenagers and young adults.

As a middle aged adult I realize that nothing I did when I was a child, teenager, and young adult that involved getting naked was wrong.

Children in these cultures are supposed to be innocent and pure and if they aren't they are shameful.

Teenagers and young adults in these cultures are supposed to be guiltless of all sexual transgressions.

In middle age you either realize how shameless and guiltless exploring yourself is or you and the ones interviewing these poor young people to find out how shameful and guilty they are for your twisted cultures.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2018 03:50PM by Elder Berry.

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