Challenging the Anti-Shame Zeitgeist

“The individual has the sole responsibility for giving one’s own life meaning and with living life passionately and sincerely, in spite of many obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, choice, boredom, and death.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

For those who have read any of my blog posts before, you probably know that I write and post a lot on the subject of shame. I mean A LOT. The reason for this is because my main area of specialty as a psychotherapist is in helping the clients I serve work through very deeply rooted issues around the subject. This is not, however, something I actively sought out or took specific course work on in graduate school. Far from it. It was something that I noticed coming up in just about every client I happened to be working with in one way or another. Oddly enough, though, it is just starting to receive the attention it deserves in my profession despite how vital of a subject it has been for clinicians to be mindful of. Joseph Burgo, a psychotherapist and author, published this article in the Atlantic last year on the inevitability and even utility of shame, and I feel absolutely compelled to share it with as many people as I can. This is a subject that has profound implications on the individual human psyche as well as the society we all belong to.

“In extreme cases, I have patients who feel that their shame is all but a death sentence. It is not; shame is not the enemy. Shame is an often painful fact of life that defines the gap between expectation and reality, but at the same time enables us to make the most of what’s actually possible.”

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