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GUILT AND SHAME far as the patient is concerned this sense of guilt is dumb; it does not tell him he is guilty; he does not feel guilty, he feels ill. (Freud 1923)

Putting shame into words with a trusted companion enables one to step outside it – it no longer seems to permeated one’s entire being – and allows some self-forgiveness to emerge. (Karen 1992)

Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality. (Erich Fromm, ‘Man for Himself’)

There is nothing more effective in breaking any person than to give him the conviction of wickedness. (Erich Fromm, ‘Individual and Social Origins of Neurosis,)

Believing in ‘free will’…is like believing in Santa Claus; it leads to disappointment.  As long as people think they can just will their lot in life to improve, they will remain the same. Let’s face it, if ‘free will’ existed we would all be marvellously healthy. (Peter Gill 1995)

Guilt implies responsibility; and however painful guilt is, it may be preferable to helplessness. (Schmideberg 1956)

The illusion of guilt is necessary for an animal that cannot enjoy life, in order to organise a life of nonenjoyment. (Brown 1961)

…anxiety wants to become fear. (Loy 1992)

Guilt and shame are with us from a very early age.  Research suggests that guilt is in place from around the ages of three to six, while shame occurs much earlier – from fifteen months to three or even sooner according to some theories. Guilt and shame overlap somewhat and although guilt is a more mature emotion developmentally than shame, as just mentioned, and has different effects because of this, one cannot be discussed without the other.  While guilt is commonly seen as the guardian of moral standards and our passport to being accepted within our culture; and shame as very personal and often less significant, both need to be taken equally seriously and shaded with conscience as will be discussed later. Guilt is concerned with wrongdoing, an activity, which tends to leave a person feeling uncomfortable at the very least, but powerful enough to have harmed someone and, hopefully, powerful enough to make up for it.  Shame is about embarrassment, humiliation, feeling of low value and above all, powerless.


GUILT can be healthy in that it is the feeling we experience when we do something we judge, by our moral code, to be wrong.  It can also occur in many people just by having the urge to do something that they believe is wrong, or even by having a thought about committing an act of wrongdoing. Healthy guilt tends to keep us to socially acceptable pathways and functioning as useful individuals. It can help our ability to work hard and to be careful and kind.  Guilt could be defined as our conscience. However, it should be noted that this ‘conscience’ is not always a reliable arbiter of ‘good and bad’ as it can only click in when we are aware of doing something wrong and is quite capable of making itself known when the misdeed is very minor or even appears inconsequential to the majority of people.

Unhealthy guilt is something else again.  This occurs when we establish unreasonably high standards for ourselves with the result that we feel guilty at absolutely understandable failure to maintain these standard.  This kind of guilt is rooted in low self-esteem and can also involve a form of distorted self-importance where we assume that anything that happens is our responsibility; it may come down hard on anything perceived as a mistake in our lives and has the added anti-benefit of often applying to other people too, so that we expect too much from family and colleagues as well as ourselves.
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SHAME is sometimes confused with guilt but can be defined as either the discomfort experienced when we don’t live up to the expectations of others – the remorse and/or embarrassment experienced when we perceive that we have let others down and expect (or receive) their scorn or ridicule. This might be by breaching rules of good taste and/or tactful and acceptable behaviour in certain social situations. A second definition of shame is to do with self-disapproval.  In the first definition, our shame might not occur if we were able to hide our anti-social or foolish acts from others, but with self-disapproval it is irrelevant whether others know or not; this type of shame might draw in embarrassment and make us feel ridiculous, inexcusably inadequate, contemptible, defective, disgraced, dishonourable…the list goes on.  Shame of the self-disapproving kind can be very powerful and very destructive.  A third element of shame, ‘personal/original shame’ will be looked at later in this booklet.

We all have shame, it is a basic part of being human.  The shame experience tends to make us feel alone and outside society at the moment it happens, but it has to be acknowledged and dealt with.  It may feel as if we are momentarily transparent psychologically, showing the world our internal soiled and defective selves, but this is not a terminal wound.  Unless we accept this and deal with our shame it accumulates and begins to weigh us down, which is far more dangerous psychologically.

Some theorists consider shame to be a momentary self-awareness, seeing ourselves as others see us.  This can obviously be a problem if a person has a very fragile view of the self or expends a lot of energy denying a suspected inferiority and then is confronted by a self that is (very probably) a lesser person than the self-image.
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‘Real’ guilt is feeling badly about something we have actually done that is morally wrong. This might, of course, include guilt about things we have not done; such as allowing something to happen that we believe we should have prevented. ‘Neurotic’ guilt is the same unpleasant feelings in a response out of all proportion to the wrongdoing. In this situation, we might also feel guilty about things we have no chance or averting, or things for which we feel obsessively responsible for no rational reason.  This will be dealt with more fully in the booklet: ‘Obsessional Thinking’.

All of us are going to have a level of neurotic guilt. Loy suggests that people are more ready to accept a neurotic belief that there is something wrong with them in some particular area of life rather than accept that the self may have a basic ‘wrongness’, as is true for all of us.

 Some theorists suggest that neurotic guilt hides real guilt in response to acts or thoughts in the recent or not so recent past that we are not prepared to face up to.  Those therapists who veer towards psychoanalysis or analytical psychotherapy might see it as childhood related – sexual, or to do with unresolved feelings towards the parents; perhaps to do with the harshness of the child’s emotions when he or she internalised the parental directions rather than being in direct relation to the actual harshness of these teachings, (Molnos)

Neurotic guilt feeds off the grey areas in our lives – those places where we wish we were better or that we try to ignore.  It may also find fertile bedding in ‘bad’ thoughts.  This is not (necessarily) obsessive thought, but the area where we doubt ourselves or where random mental responses fall into areas that we have been taught, by our culture, faith, parents or by significant others in our lives, are not acceptable.  These may be sexual or to do with envy or coveting something that belongs to someone else; and this might be a physical object or even the person’s temperament and personality.

 It has been said that evil is as evil does, not as evil thinks about doing and a psychologist once wrote that, to the question: ‘Are you bothered by evil thoughts?’ he had never received the hoped-for answer, ‘No, I quite enjoy them’.  Whether we should feel guilty about our thoughts is a question that has kept theologians and philosophers busy for several thousand years, (Psychological Self-help), so it is not something that we should try to get too involved in.  However, a strong view put forward by Nathaniel Branden, is that thoughts can only be correct or wrong; they cannot be immoral. He further suggests that immorality in such a situation is when a belief is accepted without regard for reason, knowledge, or respect for facts.  Branden points out that desires and emotions are not under conscious control; they are the results of our internal, subconscious processes. That if we believe that involuntary thoughts of this kind tell us something about our morality and our ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ we are never going to have the courage to look inside ourselves and continue the essential personal development that comes out of an awareness of ourselves. This is because we will not be able to accept the less pleasant thoughts, which everyone has, if we insist on seeing them as meaningful rather than just the result of internal, involuntary activity.

By definition, some thoughts and feelings are going to be uncomfortable, that is the way the mind works – it looks at every area, not just in the places we approve of.  As Branden states, if we insist on seeing ourselves as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ without understanding the many faceted creatures that we are, the daily and even hourly changes in our perceptions and feelings, we are never going to be able to accept ourselves and the ongoing process of change within us, that is so essential to good mental health.

This stance puts aside many religious teachings on ‘evil thoughts’ and readers, as in every area, need to make up their own minds. However, regardless of how we feel on this touchy subject, it is likely that thoughts not acted on also influence our emotions and our behaviour and we cannot escape from the reality that we are all what the contents of our minds, the full contents, and the way we process this, has made us.

It seems reasonable, therefore, to take note of our ‘bad’ thoughts and use them to monitor our behaviour and/or to work out what they are accomplishing. It does not seem reasonable to most of us, to judge a negative thought as if it were as bad as that thought put into action.  For example, the ‘road rage’ situation that fills so many newspaper and magazine pages at present. It is not reasonable to judge an urge to punch another driver who has put us at risk as identical to the act of actually punching him or her.  A strict conscience (see later in this booklet) may make us feel uncomfortable with the urge and the adrenaline flow that accompanies it, but it surely cannot be as guilt-provoking as actually attacking that person. The power of the urge might be an indication that we need to do something about our stress or rage levels or the way we allow ourselves to behave, behind the wheel or when we experience ‘righteous indignation’, but it is not the same as a physical assault.

One interesting idea in this area is to monitor our ‘bad’ thoughts and urges and watch for ways that we allow them to sneak past our conscience. For example, the heavy drinker who allows himself to become a bad tempered and anti-social monster within the family as soon as he tastes alcohol and is ‘no longer responsible’; or the person who would not dream of committing a morally doubtful act on his or her own behalf, but is happy to do so in the defence of someone else, particularly a child or an animal; or the employee casually stealing stationery or other small items from his employer because ‘I don’t get paid enough anyway’, who would never think of stealing the identical articles from a shop.

A solid sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is, then, probably healthy for all of us and the price we pay in discomfort at a bad thought is just proof that we are on our guard against actually committing the act.

If we add to this the fact that, as Bruhn states, we all process memory in (at least) slightly different ways – by sight, by sound, via the major events or the small details - we have a huge range of variables with which to deal with input from the world around us and so make sense of our second-by-second lives; (see ‘mind-set’ later in this booklet).

There are many mitigating factors to be considered when discussing neurotic guilt. First, much of our real guilt and, arguably, the major part of our neurotic guilt is rooted in sources that we swallowed whole as very young children, picked up from our parents or other significant but fallible adults, but which did not then, and does not now, fit our own needs and moral outlook.  Such early learning is powerful and very difficult to put aside, even when we know instinctively that it is of no value to us or is causing us harm.

 There is a suggestion, (Gould) that, we spend so much time learning as a species that there is a biochemical component to our makeup that urges us to accept parental learning.  That we get a ‘biochemical reprimand’ for not accepting it as part of our evolutionary requirements; where ‘good’ feelings attach to accepted learning and ‘bad’ feelings to rejecting this learning.  If this is true, we are possibly taking on evolution as well as more recent errors when we try to change.

 Whatever the case, we must all understand that, although many moral stances picked up from parents are extremely valuable, this does not mean that all of them are; and sorting through some ‘child-truths’ now and again in the light of experience and knowledge is not betraying these adults, rather, it is a requirement of any thinking, grown-up person.  A rigid and immature basis for many beliefs is therefore understandable, but it is somewhere to move on from, not a place to set up home.

Second, as touched on earlier, some theorists argue that as everything we do is based on past experience, our major influences and our environment, then behaviour is, to a greater or lesser degree a natural response, out of our conscious control and therefore we cannot be held totally responsible for it in the name of our ‘badness’ or ‘ill will’.  In such circumstances, much neurotic guilt is irrelevant.

Third, ‘morality’ is not etched in stone.  It has many cultural variations and many variables within these cultures.  People tend to believe that what goes for their particular culture, or even their family, is the worldwide norm that others should aspire too.  This simply isn’t true.  It is impossible to judge what is absolutely just and fair.  Morality is as much to do with geography, our age group and the times we are living in as anything else.  In this situation it is impossible to work out exactly how culpable we are for a perceived ‘guiltiness’, so apportioning blame and the depth or ‘deservedness’ of our punishment is impossible.

Neurotic guilt is inevitably disproportionate to the seriousness of the ‘crime’.  It is also full of emotion and virtually insatiable as, due to it’s irrational nature, it cannot be worked through in a normal manner.  It must be seen as separate from normal and healthy guilt but it is vital to acknowledge that its resistance to solution does not mean that it is stronger and therefore more important than normal guilt.  On the contrary, it is so difficult to deal with because it is irrational and of little consequence.

Some people find it useful to view their irrational guilt and shame as if it were a small child. We all know that it is virtually impossible to talk small children out of things when they ‘dig in their heels’; we have to accept their inability to understand morality, social niceties and rationality. We have to accept setbacks and tantrums. We have to find ways to demonstrate the need for change and practise it many times with the child – subtlety and intellectual argument just doesn’t work and it would be ludicrous to try to resolve the child’s problem in this way. Viewed as a fearful and demanding infant then, neurotic guilt falls back into, still unpleasant, but understandable levels. It is uncomfortable, even very painful, but it is no longer an unknown and unknowable quantity.
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People suffering from neurotic shame tend to take too much personal responsibility for occurrences within their world. It becomes very easy for such a person to have a ‘mind-set’ that is permanently ready to feel shame.  That is, this person’s perception of events and the way this input is processed is likely to take the route that leads to feelings of personal fault or worthlessness rather than any other; as in such a person seeing his or her inability to understand complicated instructions, or an inability to absorb a new job instantly as a personal failing and proof of inadequacy rather than considering the option that this might be normal for anyone.

  Such a ‘mind-set’ is just one short step from ‘internalising’ the shame where this becomes an integrated part of the character rather than an occasional, emotional tendency.  We are all capable of internalising emotions so that they become part of us rather than something we experience.  In such a situation, shame then stains every area of character or, worse, becomes the centre of this person’s character.

With neurotic shame internalised or a major part of a person’s responses, it becomes harder and harder to deal with everyday drives and needs, as anything that is experienced as ‘not perfect’ or that couldn’t be happily discussed on children’s television, draws a shame response.  As we remember things best in the situation we learnt them, this usually leaves such a person not only deep in shame for the current incident but awash with it from past experiences too.  This makes it very hard, or even impossible to look inside oneself and undertake the work needed to develop as an individual – the caring and confident interaction with the self and the life around us that is so important to neurosis-free growth.  If every peep inside shows us a loathed and sub-standard individual, why would we go through that pain and knowledge willingly? The answer is, we wouldn’t and we don’t, and normal development is then, at best, stunted and at worst, non-existent.

The problem then arises where this person begins to believe that his or her shame is beyond help and surrenders to it. Internalised shame then stands at the forefront of all personal interactions and this person’s attitude and self-talk (‘I’m to blame’, ‘It’s always going to be my fault’, ‘I’m worthless’) ensures that life is perceived as painful and to be endured at best, rather than enjoyed.  People with this problem then become ‘sensitised’ to shame, as mentioned earlier, much as a phobic person becomes sensitised to the source of his or her fear.  With the process always ready to click in, it gradually needs less and less actual stimulation before it is in full play as, for example, a spider phobic might develop original fright from sight of the creature to eventual fear of pictures the shape, the word or even sudden movement.

If it is accepted that neurotic shame tends to build out of a family dysfunction, a parent with the same problem perhaps, or a parent unable to give the confirmation of adequacy, confirmation that people can be trusted, emotional feedback, nurturing and support, so necessary for the infant to begin to trust its beliefs and develop self-worth, then the process has been induced and is open to change.  In Anxiety Care’s experience, no individual is so deeply held within a negative life-stance that he or she cannot be helped to put it aside and get on with essential human development.  Supported experimental work in the areas of setting aside negative self-talk and a gradual building up of successes that bury the old failures can work wonders. However, this is not easy; internalised negativity has a hair-trigger, and a fear or alarm response has survival potential and is stronger and more demanding of action than an event or perception that arouses pleasure. The person involved needs to understand that this is just physiological, the way the body works, and is not an indication (when there is no actual physical danger) that the hair-trigger or fear response is more important that the pleasure or other non-threatening response. Quite the contrary, it is irrelevant and damaging and needs to be put aside. Skilled support can help this process to begin.

Sometimes, this can be obtained via a good mutual support or recovery group.  Such groups can be at their best when the person needing help has little experience of ‘positive reflection’.  This is the interaction we all receive first as infants – the emotional interaction we find with our mothers or others significant adults before we can put our needs into words.  The mother’s approval or lack of it is, at this early time, the only way we have to understand what we are and what we should be.  Some theorists maintain that, during this very early stage, this ‘reflection’ is virtually all we are – what we see ourselves as, reflected in the emotions and faces of others.  Such a powerful time of learning must inevitably leave us with a need to see approval of ourselves in others – a reflection – throughout our lives even if this is simply a confirmation of our own feelings of self-worth.  When someone has not experienced this reflection as a good developmental process, has perhaps seen only, or mostly, irritation and disapproval in the faces of the powerful people around the infant self, or simply a lack of interest and empathy, then the inner self can be full of worthlessness and self-loathing for this is what has comprised the greater part of the young child’s reflecting experience.

A good group can help here in three ways – by showing that these emotions are common to many people; that they are understandable as a response to powerful others at an early and very vulnerable age, not as a useful, current evaluation of the self; and that these group members care and empathise.

The latter is very important.  Sympathy is not needed as this feeds into the shame.  It is an emotion from the perceived strong, applied to the perceived weak and is a very personal experience. Empathy is a sharing and being in touch with another person’s reality and nowhere in this process is there a place for one person to feel better or stronger than the other. Genuine empathy, as applied within the charity, is about ‘connecting’ to people without judgment and is never about one person imposing his or her ideas or ‘putting someone right’.

We are all born needing empathy from our mother or the significant carer in our lives as, without verbal and adequate motor functions to express our needs, we are helpless and are going to suffer unless the mother is tuned into us at a very deep level.  Ideal empathy is then likely to make us, the baby, feel quite powerful as, unable to differentiate between our self and the rest of the world, we probably perceive the rapid satisfying of our need for nourishment and comfort as obtained through our own will. This would lay the basis for a permanent, healthy need for such a connecting.

The problem is, if the empathy is not there, for whatever reason, the infant and the future child will probably experience anxiety, isolation and loneliness at a very deep level.  A family that uses guilt and shame to control its children will, almost by definition, be unable to provide empathic support for the growing child and will, almost as certainly, not have provided it for the helpless infant.

As Caldwell notes in ‘Knowing and Being Known’, empathy cannot survive alongside stress, fear, anger, emotional pain and shame.  In this way a vicious circle can be set up where the sufferer, urgently in need of empathic connection to establish his or her viability and fundamental sense of being accepted and respected, is, because of internal conflicts, unable to establish this vital empathic bond.  In this situation, with the reserves of empathic ability low or non-existent, walls of anger and/or indifference can be set up to ward off anyone who, offering such a caring connection, will probably be seen instead as a threat or at least an unwanted intruder.

Caldwell points out that many of us are so overwhelmed by our own feelings that we cannot tolerate exposure to the pain or need of others.  He further states that nature has provided all of us with an ‘empathic wall’ that allows us to put aside the more extreme tragedies and agonies of others - individuals or groups - that might otherwise drown us in pain.  However, he points out that such a wall can easily become a fixture.  Hiding behind it, we experience little outside pain, but we also miss out on the vital, enriching interaction, emotional and intellectual, of the surrounding community.

Caldwell sees shame as the opposite of empathy, that in shame the vital affirming connection is withdrawn and this person is left only with the damaged and vulnerable self as protection against a perceived cold and threatening world.  Here people may become passive as they lick their wounds, or aggressive as they hit back against perceived ‘attacks’ on the wobbly and very fragile self.  In the latter situation, the deeper the wounds and more vulnerable the self, the quicker this person falls into attack mode.

 If male sufferers also have problems with their view of their own masculinity (not their sexuality), a very common occurrence in male anxiety sufferers, they may well perceive vital empathic relationships as too ‘feminine’ and so an automatic threat to their self perception.  This will feed in to the need to present an image of the self in a certain way.  With shamed and anxious men this might be as powerful, ‘hard’, a problem solver and guardian – taking respect for an image rather than earning it with the true self. Within Anxiety Care, it is common to see such men exhausting themselves as they strive to keep up the façade, succeeding only in deepening their shame and self-disgust and having virtually no perception of their true developmental needs as wounded and deeply unhappy individuals.

Within groups the duality of empathy can also be a problem.  That is, empathy is intellectually centred, requiring us to try to put ourselves in touch with the experience and mind-set of others; but it can also be a process by which we try to help these others connect with how we feel.  In an ideal situation, this empathy requires the person to risk identifying with the other and taking his or her experience into the self prior to experiencing an internal understanding and a final drawing back to observe the responses this engenders in both.  However, if the person has problems with empathy, almost invariably due to bad early learning experience, he or she might have a flawed approach to it.  That is, this person might have a very poor or even aggressively negative sense of what is required and see empathy as only one way, or predominantly one way – outward as part of a huge personal need for self-expression.  If this need has elements of rage in it, or is projected by a person whose wounded character development has allowed the essential self-centredness of babyhood to linger beyond its normal life stage, it may be driven by a need for the other to experience this pain.  Hence the bad group where poisonous and rage-full venting takes the place of empathy.

Even when this negative empathy is not in place, the shamed person is likely to be projecting a false image. Hiding the ‘true-self’ inevitably makes all relationships difficult as no one can be allowed too close for fear that he or she sees what the shamed person is ‘really’ like; but there is little alternative to risking this if recovery is to be made.  Most work in this area states that good empathic connections can be made in later life even after an extremely adverse infancy. However it is pointed out that such connections can be very fragile.

There are a number of suggestions and mitigating circumstances to be looked at when dealing with any kind of shame. Eby points out that it has recently been discovered that a cell in the brain which conducts nerve impulses, can bypass the rational part of the brain and go straight to the primitive ‘fight or flight’ centres when strong emotional responses are involved. He further states that the more temper, frustration, anxiety, depression and fear etc., accumulated in the early years of our lives, the easier it is for this primitive part of the brain (the amygdala) to hijack the rest of the brain, flooding it with strong and inappropriate reactions – a neurochemical response that may have little to do with the actual events taking place.

Eby also discusses research on the developmental needs of the individual and points out that some theorists see inner conflict and neurotic or similar dysfunction, including guilt, shame and dissatisfaction with oneself as an essential point to work from for fullest development.

 This has been a common occurrence within the charity over the past years.  Anxiety Care workers have encountered many individuals who appeared to be suffering mostly as a response to trying to ‘outgrow’ their current emotional and familial environments; a situation that was often seen as threatening and selfish by the family or peer group concerned, resulting in emotional and sometimes physical punishment, and a level of ostracism and emotional withdrawal that fed painfully into this person’s already large sense of being different and alone.  In most cases, being able to talk about the problem and the feelings that went with it, made a good start towards dealing with the pervasive secrecy and shame that such painful development engenders.

The major problem here is, of course, that neurotic shame makes us very unwilling to look inside ourselves and to trust others, as mentioned previously, so it is very hard to persuade someone to begin recovery work ‘cold’; that is, on the word of an outsider that this is a good idea.  In such a situation, a good support and recovery group can be hugely useful.  If it is accepted that much of our ‘shame knowledge’ has been in place since we were very young children, it can take a child’s understanding to undermine it: that is, as mentioned previously, much repetition and reinforcement of practical positive experience.  As discussed in other literature, none of us with children would sit down and explain to them at two years of age, what is expected of them for the next year and how we want them to act – that would be ludicrous – but we tend to do this with our wounded, defensive and shamed child-selves. A rule of thumb might be that it is difficult to over estimate the power of shame within a shamed person.  A second rule might be that some people are so ashamed of their shame that they are ashamed to even acknowledge it to themselves.
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ORIGINAL SHAME is defined in many ways, but for our purposes it will be discussed as the wounds received as a very young child.  Both Cloke and Shultz cite research which suggests that shame, or the mechanism for experiencing it, is born in us as a neural or biological affect, and both also point out that shame has a link to joy and pleasure so that we are at our most vulnerable to shame when something interferes with the stimulus of an ongoing feeling of pleasure, excitement or joy. In this situation, the shame response triggers very easily.

As was discussed previously, empathic connections can be made in later life, but the early wounding of original shame can leave heavy scars. Children understand words long before they can speak themselves.  If the infant was never helped to understand the meaning of his or her needs by parental empathic and verbal communication then, as an adult, this person might never achieve a sense of where he or she ends emotionally and where the rest of the world starts.  It is very easy, in early infancy, to internalise all shame – everything is caused by the infant; ‘outside myself’ is not an understood concept.  In this situation the infant might grow up with a semi-permanent need to find someone to make this ‘right’, to reset the balance.  If the infant had to build its own mother so to speak; that is, internalise a concept of a caring and empathic power that took away the terror, this infant’s grown-up self might never grasp the concept of self-esteem that came from inside, the understanding of it’s essential self-centredness and need to experiment and experience as a tiny child.  Here, this child grown into an adult, might view his or her poor self-esteem, the sense of original shame, as only rectifiable by another person, hence an endless search for someone to take the pain away and the possible development of a belief that someone out there, maybe everyone out there, ‘should’ know what is needed and ‘must’ do something about it.

When the adult’s internal two-year-old is screaming for help, intellect and grown-up reasoning is not attached to this consciousness.

The infant may give up its need to be independent, to have a true sense of self, if the parent is not giving enough of what little, but very precise, requirement the child has of the parent.  The child may do this if it senses that this is necessary to ‘buy’ its bond with the parent. In this situation, the child might stay a child as vital character development becomes ‘stuck’ at an infantile stage and interferes with the adult’s sense of ‘self’.

In this culture, we are encouraged, as children, not to be ‘selfish’ and many, maybe most, of us do not understand the difference between only being able to relate to our own selfish needs (narcissism) and having a sense of self - where we start and end in relation to the world and in particular to the powerful, primary parent figure.  Without a good, accurate sense of self, we cannot work out where our boundaries are and as Paris & Paris point out, this can lead to over dependence on the parent or parent substitute, or rigid distancing and no understanding of where the healthy area of living between being too close and being too independent lies – both as a child and as an adult. And, as Cloke says, the adult grown out of this child might well fight barely perceived dependency by devaluing the other person’s importance in relevant situations, or even his or her own needs in this area.

Many people coming to Anxiety Care have a sense of being wounded as children but, thanks to ‘pop psychiatry’, this is often perceived as being sexually and/or physically abused at that time.  Virtually none give credence to the ‘abuse’ of being ignored or resented or unloved or used as an adult-substitute or even an ‘infant carer’: the abuse of original shame.  Where rage, particularly the rage of a small child is perceived (even in the vaguest possible way) as the response to understanding this, defences go up.

Cloke points out that it is never too late to recover from early shame and that learning to bridge the gap between self and others is possible at any age. Attachment to others, an acceptance that attachment is essential to all humans, is part of the answer as is the development of compassion, respect, understanding, empathy and acceptance towards others.

Within the groups, leaders try to help people, first of all, to suspend their disbelief – not to change their beliefs overnight, but to believe it possible they may be mistaken about ‘right’, ‘wrong’ and their ‘needs’. And to understand that a good group might be the place where they can be supported as they try to make connections and to understand that it doesn’t matter if their internal child ‘blows up’ occasionally.

In this way, people can begin the slow and painful process needed to recover.  In a safe environment, defences don’t need to go up so fast and so hard, but like the child, we all have to learn that this is true by experiment and experience.  A new ‘family’ can be built – within the groups or outside after experiment within the groups.  Identifying with other people’s shame wounds, being able to see the ironic side of this, is a firm step on the road to recovery as is the ability to accept the wounds as what they are:  painful but ones own.

Caldwell says that the shame memories are as integral a part of a person as the joy and the achievements; they can’t hurt the adult in the same way as they hurt the child, but they have to be faced for this to be understood.

Caldwell also makes the interesting suggestion that we should attempt to change our neurotic, original and other non-acceptable shame into normal guilt (not neurotic guilt).  This might be done by seeing that our failures are not because of our ‘basic and permanent inadequacy’, but because we didn’t prepare properly or just weren’t ready for the initiative or activity we undertook; that we are mostly ‘guilty’ of being sloppy or lazy or over confident.  We might also be guilty of laying everything at the door of inadequacy as a cover-all ‘cop out’.  People tend to use what they have, and many people have a lot of shame.  So it can be easy to work well within ones abilities (be lazy or slapdash) and put subsequent failure down to natural and inevitable weakness within ourselves that we choose to believe that we can do nothing about.  After all, who can expect much from a twenty-four carat ‘waste of space’?

Acceptable guilt has internal boundaries unlike most original shame and is easily within our purview to deal with.  And unlike shame, it is usually something we can share with others. The embarrassment of being lazy or slapdash is considerably easier to acknowledge than the hidden and hated shame of ‘natural inadequacy’.
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According to Caprio, conscience is recognising the difference between right and wrong actions.  It is not feelings, as in one feeling guilty about something, but the response to the decision the person makes about these feelings.

 He discusses the work of Timothy O’Connell who suggests that there are three levels of conscience: first, the ability to know the difference between right and wrong which is part of being human and having personal responsibilities and values even when we disagree about the rightness or wrongness of an actual activity or event; second, the act of conscience when we decide if something is morally good or bad, when we apply our intelligence to our and other people’s experiences and beliefs.  This requires a broad range of information (hopefully including ideas that are challenging or different, not just supportive and comforting, or from parents).  The third level is the decision of conscience itself, when the person takes a moral stance.  O’Connell sees this as the act of being true to oneself.  The decision may not be correct according to the cultural majority, but it needs to be honest within the person, and thought out.

Dunn discusses the severe conscious interestingly and is worth reading in full (see references). He states that a harsh conscience, known to analysts as the ‘punitive super-ego’, can cause a whole range of difficulties including blame-aligned arguments, anxiety and depression. He describes the normal conscience as like an attentive teacher or guide, admonishing in a healthy way, which helps us to steer a course through the difficult area of morality.  On the other hand, the punitive conscience is described as finding nothing worthwhile or of value within us, and being something that bludgeons and hammers without mercy. This can lead to a person rejecting the conscience’s ‘guidance’ at times in sheer self-defence. Dunn goes on to say that such a punitive conscience can lead to a person hearing the concerns of others, including positive feedback in the form of warnings about conduct, as harsh and unfriendly.

This type of conscience will naturally lead to the bearer expecting too much of him- or herself, trying to live up to impossible standards and almost certainly expecting the same of others. In Anxiety Care’s experience, people with a severe and uncompromising conscience often see the perceived inner worthlessness of themselves in others.  It is very easy for a rigid and punitive morality to spill over into staining the lives of others and/or to offer totally erroneous ‘truths’ about these persons.  In this way, such a conscience owns the bearer and ensures that he or she is, at best, difficult to be around and learns very little from what social contact is managed.

Dunn sees such a conscience stemming from a childhood where the person is punished suddenly and harshly, or receives little positive reinforcement or praise, or where the parent or parent substitute swings between lack of involvement with the child and harsh criticism. Also that it might involve a parent with assertiveness problems which result in explosive anger, or a parent who vents personal pain and belittles the child or accuses him or her of ‘badness’ without making any attempt to show the child better alternatives.  In this way, the child might integrate the parent’s erratic and punitive discipline into him- or herself as the way to control personal behaviour and beliefs in the future – the severe conscience.

Dunn further discusses the ways in which families who over burden the young child can induce a severe conscience.  Anxiety Care sees clients who have been survivors of such situations – the child who learnt much too young that the parents were fallible or needy in ways far beyond healthy developmental understanding of the parent’s humanity; In a way that engendered great concern, possibly fear, and a need to ‘do my part’ in face of perceived family danger, at a time long before this was healthy or reasonable.

Dunn states that children are able to recognise and be concerned about parental need at around the age of four, and excessive concern at such an age would easily result in the conscience getting ‘stuck’ at that early stage – at a young child’s point of self-sufficiency and responsibility that, almost by definition, will be unreasonable (as far as the later adult self would be concerned) and prone to black-and-white thinking, mostly black.

Dunn suggests that a therapeutic approach to dealing with such an excessive conscience might be helping this person to think through problems such as perfectionism, over-responsibility for others and over self-reliance. Anxiety Care encounters many people who deal with a pervasive but unfocused guilt or anxiety by trying to give it substance – for we can deal with, or defend ourselves against, things that we can see. Hence the difficulty in dealing with a severe conscience can sometimes be turned outwards by the sufferer so that the whole world, or at least that immediately adjacent, seems threatening and untrustworthy.

Within the charity, people suffering in this way have been helped to suspend their disbelief and to accept others at face value, rather than to blame and criticise which, as Dunn says, often occurs without reflection or insight.  ‘Knee-jerk’ blame or defensiveness is hard to put aside and often takes a considerable time to work through. Watching others in a good group respond positively time after time to something that this person (for deep personal reasons) needs to perceive as an attack, is very therapeutic and eventually tends to change the owner of a severe conscience for the better.

Doctor Erich Fromm has produced a great deal of interesting and perceptive work.  His 1949 essay on characterology might be worth looking at here with regards to the subject of conscience.

 Fromm points out that character traits are necessarily moulded to fit a person within his or her culture; that the modern industrial culture required the work force to freely accept big changes in lifestyle. These included a willingness to commit much more energy to regular work, punctuality, discipline and orderliness.  He further points out that these changes had to be more than voluntary – they had to be integrated as drives into personal character if they were to lead to a smooth running society.  While economic, political, religious and philosophical effects were at work to produce all this, they had to be in line with humanity’s natural drives which Fromm details as a striving for happiness, for harmony, for love and for freedom.  He further points out that if these natural needs are thwarted in the interaction of a person with his or her actual world, they lead to a striving by the individual for conditions that better meet these absolute requirements.

As an infant, our mother, a product herself of this cultural need, would help us towards an understanding of this requirement of society and to integrate the concept of work and commitment into our minds as part of a social conscience.

Anecdotal evidence within the charity suggest that many users were brought up within the post-Victorian effect of a ‘nose to the grindstone’ philosophy where this not only instilled a need for work-commitment as ‘natural’, but also an acceptance that this measured a person’s stance as a ‘real’ man or woman within the culture.

Today’s world offers much less work security and a blurring of the difference between ‘male’ and ‘female’ in the characterological sense. As has been mentioned here and in other literature, a great many men measure their value as males against their ability to work hard and to provide for and protect their partner and children.  When the ‘female’ element (as in needy and dependant) blurs as it has done in the last thirty or forty years, with far more women working and themselves providing a vital part of support and caring – ‘a ‘masculinising’ of women if you like – it would seem quite natural that many men would experience a very basic threat to their position as males; particularly as, within this culture, the ‘masculinising’ of women is far more acceptable than a ‘feminising’ of men.

Literature on the subject and a recent comment on a television programme suggests that a good many younger males, without jobs, purpose and a belief that women need protecting, have fallen back on the oldest expression of manhood – impregnating as many females as possible.

Where does this leave a social conscience and a personal conscience? In a state of flux seems like a reasonable thought.  If a person can no longer trust that his or her social conscience – the way this person was brought up to relate to and believe in the world - is accurate, then what about the personal conscience?  If mum and dad were that wrong about the way the world works, what about the personal bits? Can we live with such a fundamental doubt in our lives?

Much of anxiety is about guilt and a fear of losing control.  Neurosis is focused on obtaining security rather than happiness, so a shifting in guilt and conscience to obtain this security might be at the cost of personal development.  Living within the parameters of one’s conscience might have to involve major changes in perception and the letting-go of very long term ‘truths’.  As Fromm says, ‘Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself’ and this can be hugely painful and take a very long time.
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Anything that is very important to our thinking (and maybe survival) has many words to describe it as in the Eskimos with their thirty-five (or sixty depending on your expert) words for snow in its many conditions.  According to Lee the western cultures have over five hundred words for the female genitals, over five hundred words for the male genitals and over eight hundred words for the sex act itself.

This tends to buy into the widely held belief that we are somewhat culturally obsessed with sex. Some theorists put this down to religious teachings, specifically Christianity.  This is not the place to debate the value or otherwise of religion as regards guilt and shame, but it seems clear that many Christian leaders over the centuries, have used guilt and shame to control the general population (Feinberg and Kirsch in ‘Lee’ ’97; Mason in ‘Ourworld’ ’00, ‘pangaram’ ‘00). Instilling guilt in people, particularly sexual guilt, is a very effective way to control them. Our culture has accepted many sexual teaching of this kind as ‘cultural truths’ so that, even if one is not brought up as a Christian, these ‘facts’ have permeated life and become accepted as part of most people’s reality.

In this way, sometimes out of sheer self-defence, people are able to maintain ambivalent attitudes towards sex as has been demonstrated many times within Anxiety Care.  Classically, this has been seen in men and women who ignore and/or deny their sexual responses with the result that, when these responses become strong enough to ‘break through’, they are perceived as out of control or somehow malign.  This fits in with the old East End saying that ‘only good girls get pregnant’ – the more sexually relaxed girls are very aware of sexual consequences. According to Thomas (in ‘Lee’), people in denial about the power of their sex drives see the resultant escaping sexual acts as major moral failures and this leads to even worse sexual guilt.

According to pangaram there are two sorts of sexual guilt: ‘the morning after’ and ‘latent’. As might be deduced, ‘the morning after’ refers to sexual guilt following a sexual act that is out of line with one’s internal values or conscience. ‘Latent’ is a cover-all term referring to one’s feelings about sex and sexual acts – often that sex in general is wrong, dirty and/or associated with baser instincts that should be controllable.  This belief system may easily lead to problems as above, denial and sudden escape of urges, a perceived lack of interest in sex altogether or the complexity of such a person giving confusing signals to a potential partner and then feeling repulsed if this ‘dirtiness’ is reciprocated. Obsessional fears around sex will be looked at in detail in the booklet, ‘Obsessional Thinking’.

Klein’s article on sexual addiction eloquently discusses one area of sexual irresponsibility, but opens up questions involving sexual guilt.  If we label our sexuality as our ‘badness’, then we suffer because we perceive it as an example of the kind of person we are.  If we label it, or part of it, as an illness, then we are not responsible.  The addiction and illness mentality has the built in benefit of us being powerless against it – we have no responsibility to attempt control because we are ‘ill’, not ‘bad’.  As Klein says, controlling sexual energy can be very painful and frightening.  The primitive and infantile forces involved, gleefully latching on to a wide range of expressions of need, can terrify and seem almost insanely unstable. If we view our sexuality as inborn and present from the very first day of life, then much of it is going to be to do with the baby’s egomania - total amoral and self-centred need where ‘me’ is the only thing in the universe of any consequence.

As said earlier in these writings and elsewhere, babies can’t be reasoned with or instilled with cultural and personal responsibility, they are not ready for it.  Seen as babies problems, this sexual difficulty is acceptable if hard work; seen as a roaring and unstoppable force inside ourselves, it is terrifying. Much easier to view it as a sickness; and, of course ‘ill’ babies don’t get punished, they get treated.   As Klein says, we all need to broker our sexual desires.  If we decide we are powerless against our addiction or illness, or have to deny our sexuality in case we wake up the bad stuff, then we are always going to be stunted human beings.

A man’s sexuality is easily aroused and may be confusingly, and sometimes frighteningly, involved with admiration and affection.  As stated, it will also have remnants of earlier desires dragging along behind it so that the odd socially inappropriate thought will often pop into the mind. This is normal; sexuality does not adhere to current culturally accepted (or demanded) norms which is bad news for people who are sensitive to anything that makes them feel they are not part of the group and so not totally acceptable.  Feelings of worthlessness very easily attach themselves to sexual thoughts and impulses when this inferiority or abnormality is part of a person’s ‘mind set’. This will be particularly true at the moment in the midst of the western worlds hysteria about sexual deviance with regard to some sexual activities.

None of us has a sexuality that could be written up and proudly displayed on the community hall bulletin board as the epitome of normality, because ‘normality’ is not what we mean when we say that word.  Normality doesn’t have a dark side, lusts and a demand for personal satisfaction at any cost.  Normality is what the self-appointed arbiters of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ have told us is correct behaviour over the past few hundred years, and for ‘correct’, read ‘controllable and culturally desirable’.

There is an interesting slant on this if one looks at the idea of prohibitions against certain sexual acts. This theory suggests that if they weren’t fairly common thought processes and impulses in the general population, then there would not have to be such elaborate and complex penalties against them.

 A look at other cultures around the world, of today and centuries past, would show a huge range of ‘normality’.  There is a place for saying that current western sexuality is a ‘cultural defect’. This is the premise that something accepted by an entire culture, or the great majority, can easily be seen by outsiders as insane or totally malign, but as long as the majority in that culture accept it, the defect passes for ‘normal’ and people subscribing to the sick belief are, technically, not sick themselves. (Germany in the 30’s and 40’s is a prime example). Perhaps we should look at the western cultures’ current approach to sexuality, guilt and denial as a cultural defect that we will, hopefully grow out of.  The problem is, of course, that if we cancel our subscription to this cultural norm, we might then be seen as culturally sick. In some ways this might not be a bad thing although it can hurt a great deal and feeds into guilt and shame.

 We would all like to be free of our worrying, immature needs, not least the sexual ones, but this is part of what we are too and pushing it away as illness or badness is just another way to avoid being a real adult. The child inside has been directly involved with the great bulk of our learning if we accept that most of our beliefs and ‘truths’ were instilled as young children.  If we try to deny this child its loud and often inaccurate say, we are just going to make it clamour for more attention; far better to acknowledge the multiple ways we can look at things and try to make rational judgements based on this.

We all tend to view ourselves as more kindly, sensitive, caring and generous than other people.  There is research (Miller) that shows that we are far more likely to accurately judge the responses of others in social or demanding situations than we are our own.  Taking this a step further, if we listen to all the facets of our minds instead of just the part we approve of, we have a better chance of coming to a rational conclusion: ‘brainstorming’ can work very well, even if all the brains belong to us.
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Gill suggests that, while we are all accountable for the consequences of our present actions, we cannot be held responsible for the causes of these actions; that research suggests that, given minimal genetic and biological attributes, a child can be taught essentially any belief by parents and other significant adults in the earliest part of life. He further states that, while genetic, instinctual and organic factors underline behaviour, when these factors are within normal limits, they ‘provide only an infrastructure upon which learning develops the architecture of personality’.

This may or may not be totally true, but it does leave the door open for neurotic development via the learning process.  Fromm sees neurosis as developing from the inevitable conflict over authority between parent and child, where the child does not solve this satisfactorily.  As mentioned elsewhere, authority tends to have two poles.  The first is ‘objective’, where the person is competent to wield power and skilled enough to undertake the tasks of guidance this involves.  The second is ‘irrational’, where authority is wielded, irrespective of competence, but due to the power the wielder has over the person subjected to it, its strength in direct proportion to the fear and awe in which the power holder is held by the person subjected to it.

Fromm points out that the interests of modern society, the person’s culture in which he or she is expected to live, do not coincide with the needs and interests of the individual; so it is inevitable that the child will have to give up certain levels of freedom and spontaneity.  He further states that as the first authority a child encounters is that of the parent, and as this parent will be a product of the existing culture, this parent might be seen as an agent of the culture as mentioned earlier. Here the parent is in the position of training the child to accept and internalise the needs of the culture so that it, the culture, can continue to work effectively. These requirements will inevitably clash with the child’s inborn need for freedom and total individuality and lead to a substitute and paler ‘self’ where the child gives up much of these basic desires and becomes, more or less, the sum total of what the power figures demand of him or her.  This will happen with the most benign of original authority figures (the parents); when these parents, or parent substitutes, are not so benign, the problems become much worse of course.

Fromm doesn’t ignore Freud’s stance concerning sexuality and neurosis, but suggests that young children are trained to feel guilty about their inborn sexual drives and other bodily functions because guilt is a powerful tool in the process of bringing a child into submission.   Fromm further suggests that this guilt is not the healthy guilt that has been discussed above but, in reality, is the fear of upsetting people of whom we are afraid.  It is not, therefore, a healthy, person-friendly response but a shackle round our need for independence and freedom.

This depressing journey does not, of course, automatically lead to neurosis because if it did, we would all be neurotic. So who becomes neurotic?  Fromm suggests that neurosis might grow out of a child being more thoroughly ‘broken’ than others with the result that his or her anxiety might be in major and unbearable conflict with basis desires; or the child might have developed a greater need for freedom and the expression of originality than most so that inevitable defeat under authority might be the more sharply unbearable; and these would be the results of relatively benign ‘training’.

 Guilt-focused neurosis might also be to do with this person feeling somehow ‘locked in’ to the family; as if his or her own needs to be true to the self have to be subordinated to the needs of this family, particularly if it is in emotional trouble. Even if such a problem is partially dealt with and this person fights free, he or she might still be overwhelmed with guilt for this escape and subsequent personal growth: so by, surviving and leaving the rest to ‘drown’ (Whitfield). A neurosis-focused response to a malign, abusive or uncaring upbringing would obviously have almost limitless forms.

As Pierrakos states, if we are trained or encouraged, even by default, to ignore or deny aspects of ourselves, then we tend to put all our powers and drives into the aspects that we accept. This means that, like a body builder concentrating on only one set of muscles and letting the others waste away, we become unbalanced and unwell.

Such an attitude, guilt and/or shame induced, must take its toll so that, even when we feel we are working hard and investing our power in ourselves, it may be in only part of ourselves.  If we can’t see that, then we might perceive the resulting imbalance as a sign of our worthlessness or inadequacy rather than just inappropriate ‘mental muscle’ building put at the door of guilt and shame.

An unpleasant aspect of this can be, as Dayton discusses, projecting the unwanted parts of ourselves onto others or forcing down, subconsciously, those areas of which we are afraid.  Within Anxiety Care, it is relatively common to encounter people who are afraid of their own anger or rage and their potential for ‘violence’; and this violence might be emotional rather than physical and might even present as an impulse that doesn’t seem anything like violence to an observer, but is experienced as such by the person him- or herself.

When the imbalance is projected onto others, then is seen the highly critical or intolerant person, or the person who perceives evil and immorality everywhere.  It can be a comfort to listen to the zealots of our world ranting about evils that only they seem able to see and realising that much of it will be staining from their personal, disowned selves and so totally invisible to them except as some sort of ‘itch’ they choose to recognise in others and feel bound to scratch.

This is not really the place to investigate PUNISHMENT in its many forms; however it can be looked at as it relates to guilt and shame.  In its most understood form, punishment may frequently be seen in anxiety/depression sufferers, predominantly those with an obsessive element to it.  Here the sufferer might restrain him- or herself physically by a restriction to the home or an inability to undertake certain acts, as a means of incarceration – sentencing the self to a term of physical or emotional imprisonment.  This is often seen too, within the charity, as a protective measure. For example, the woman who needed to leave an abusive partner and so ensure the mental well-being of her children, became agoraphobic, to her perception, as a means of avoiding the decision (she now could not leave because she was sick); and by this also punished herself with imprisonment and depression for her perceived cowardice.

A charity client has also detailed a punishment scenario via his OCD. His overwhelming sense of guilt and shame at what he perceived as an immoral act turned into severe contamination fears that restricted him to his home for many years.  He later explained that he had finally judged that ‘ten years solitary’ was punishment enough for what he had done and thrown off the crippling contamination.

While either of these scenarios might be a ‘convenience of understanding’ – attempting to make sense of a senseless world and/or legitimising what each might still view, deep inside, as a non-genuine illness, the idea of punishment and a need for personal punishment, was very strong in both clients. It might also be pointed out in the above cases that neither person experienced normal guilt as in an emotion leading to reparation or the seeking of forgiveness.  Both were totally involved in their own feelings and it might be said that their level of self-obsession made the objects of these crippling feelings almost inconsequential.

Carveth states that it is not possible to feel guilt about something one has consciously done without feeling ashamed of being the sort of person that could do that. He says, however, that the opposite, shame without guilt, is quite possible as has been described above.  Therefore, guilt and shame are linked in the more mature person.

Freud might have viewed such a response as in the cases discussed above, as ‘noisy’ conscious guilt covering a subconscious guilt that was perceived as much worse – the deeply hidden ‘true crimes’ (Carveth).  There might even be a case for saying that such noisy guilt might not be accepted internally by some less morally evolved levels of consciousness; hence the anxiety and depression and general mental ill-health appearing as the physical representation of a conflict between areas of consciousness.

Carveth discusses this whole area interestingly and makes the point that unconscious self-punishment is an alternative and substitute for accepting guilt; that we may be afraid of looking into ourselves in search of the guilt inducing parts in case we find (as we fear) that that is all there is – we are totally bad and beyond salvation.  Such a feared discovery would be impossible to live with, so it is heavily ignored as is anything that might open the door to it. Self-torment then meets our needs without the danger of shattering us completely.

As a final thought on shame, Retzinger & Scheff make the point that shame is often ignored within mental problems, even by professional therapists; that we have a huge prohibition against acknowledging shame in others and even in ourselves so making it a very isolating experience. They further point out that people can become caught up in a spiral of feelings: being ashamed and then being ashamed of being ashamed; or being angry and then ashamed of being angry and then angry at being ashamed…and on it goes.

 And on the subject of anger, it is pointed out that the power and powerlessness of guilt and shame respectively, as discussed earlier, might also allow guilt to be a mask for shame – hiding any feelings of powerlessness from the shaky internal concept of self.

A final quote from David Loy; ‘Today our problem with anxiety is greater for at least two reasons: a more individualistic society produces people with a stronger sense-of-self, therefore with stronger anxiety, and it provides fewer effective ways to cope with that anxiety’.

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www. source material and references:

A number of source references have been lost from the early part of the above document.  Any author who feels that he or she has not been adequately cited in this bibliography should contact Anxiety Care with the relevant information, and this online document will be amended, with our apologies.

John Bradshaw, ‘Toxic Shame’ from ‘Healing the Shame that Binds You’.

Nathaniel Branden, ‘Jesus versus the Self’,
The Disowned Self 1971

The Daily Objectivist 24/11/00

Arnold R. Bruhn, Ph.D, ‘What is Cognitive Perceptual Theory?’

Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div., ‘Knowing and Being Known’ and ‘Healing Shame’

Albert Caprio, O.P., ‘Conscience’

Donald L. Carveth, Ph.D, ‘The Unconscious Need for Punishment: Expression or Evasion of the Sense of Guilt?’

William Cloke Ph.D., ‘Rage, Shame and the Death of Love’

Douglas Eby, ‘Shame’

Tim Dunn, M.A., C.M.H.C.
‘The Harsh Conscience’

Sigmund Freud, (1916). ‘Some character-types met with in psychoanalytic work’.  S.E., 14: 311-333 as seen in ‘Carveth’.

Sigmund Freud, (1930) ‘Civilization and its Discontents’. S.E., 19:59-145 as seen in ‘Carveth’

Erich Fromm, ‘Individual and Social Origins of Neurosis’ (1944a)

Erich Fromm, ‘Man for Himself’

Erich Fromm, ‘Psychoanalytic Characterology and Its  Application to the Understanding of Culture’.

Dr. Peter Gill, ‘Determinism’ in, ‘The Society of Natural Science’.

Guilt Issues, ‘Appropriate and Neurotic Guilt’

R. Karen, ‘Shame: The rediscovery of what some psychologists regard as the primary cause of emotional distress’. The Atlantic 269, 2 (February 1992): 40-70 as seen in ‘Carveth’.

Marty Klein, Ph.D., ’Why There’s No Such Thing as Sexual Addiction – And Why It Really Matters’,

Article Archive, Article #8, March 1998

Dr. Cherry Lee, ‘Young and Single’: The Hidden Effects of Sexual Guilt.

Mark Lowery, Ph.D., ‘Gray Matters’

David R. Loy, ‘The Lack of Self in Psychotherapy and Buddhism’. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 24, Number2.

Marc Miller, Ph.D, ‘Shame and Psychotherapy’

Patricia Miller, ‘Predicting Behaviour: The Holier Than Thou Effect’.  Looking at the work of Epley & Dunning.

Dr. Angela Molnos (1998), ‘ A psychotherapists harvest’
Online, check ‘Molnos’.

Johan Norman, ‘To Talk with Infants’

‘Overcoming the guilt and fear Christianity has instilled in you’; a review of Mark Mason’s book, ‘In Search of the Loving God’.

pangaram: are u in love, ‘Sexual guilt’

Eileen Paris, Ph.D, and Tom Paris, Ph.D

‘Parenting Our Future’

Philosophical Perspectives on the Humanities,

‘Guilt, shame and modern morality’

Eva Pierrakos, ‘Self-Alienation: The Way Back To The Self’, Excerpt from Lecture #95, Copyright 1961 by The Pathwork Foundation.

Psychological Self-help, ‘Sad Times of Our Lives’

Suzanne M. Retzinger and Thomas J. Scheff
‘Shame as the Master Emotion’

James M. Schultz, M.D. ‘The C.G.Jung Page’, ‘Shame’.

‘Welcome to…Feeling Guilt about the Loss’

Charles L. Whitfield M.D. ‘Healing the Child Within’, 1987

This article should not be used as a diagnostic tool by lay people.  It is not medically based and a qualified medical practitioner should always be consulted before any intervention concerning anxiety disorder or depression.  This is a non-profit publication.

Copyright ©2018, Anxiety Care UK