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- Shame

"Empathic possibility is the real antidotes and healing path for shame. Patients must develop empathy with themselves (self-empathy) and with others. this expansion of empathy both with self and with others is at the heart of coming into deeper, more healing connection."
Jordan, J. V . A Relational-Cultural Model: Healing through Mutual Empathy. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. Vol. 65, No 1, 2001: 92-103.

Abstract "A perspective which emphasizes relational development leads to a shift in understanding therapy, which can be thought of as a process through which individuals find ways to bring themselves more fully into relationship. Empathy serves our basic desire for connection and emotional joining. In shame, we experience a loss of empathic attunement.

"The experience of being shamed thus leaves one feeling disconnected and disempowered. Marginalized groups, in particular, struggle with this form of disempowerment. Shame is also a powerful obstacle to connection in psychotherapy, but an empathic, relational approach in therapy can significantly alter the experience of shame" 
Jordan, J.V. Relational Development: Therapeutic Implications of Empathy and Shame. Work in Progress, No. 39. Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies, Wellesley, MA, 1989.

"shame is an essential relational affect and that it can be defined as a sense of unworthiness to be in connection, an absence of hope that an empathic response will be forthcoming from another person. "
good section on shame and guilt,(pg 100)
Jordan, J. V. (1997). Realational development through mutual empathy. In A. C. Bohart, & L. S. Greenberg (Eds.), Empathy reconsidered: New directions in psychotherapy (pp. 343-351). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

 material from Brene Brown.

2012-04-02 - Shame, Empathy, and the Wholehearted Journey

"I called both my husband, Steve, and my good friend Karen. They gave me what I needed the most: empathy, the best reminder that we’re not alone. Rather than judgment (which exacerbates shame), empathy conveys a simple acknowledgment, “You’re not alone, I’ve been there.” Empathy is connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole. Not only did Steve and Karen help me climb out by listening and loving me, but they made themselves vulnerable by sharing that they too had spent some time in the same hole."

2012-05-16 - Shame Resilience Theory By Steve Safigan

"Shame resilience theory (SRT) was developed by researcher and author Brené Brown in 2006.

Forming mutually empathetic relationships that facilitate reaching out to others: When we reach out for support, we may receive empathy, which is incompatible with shame and judgment. We recognize that our most isolating experiences are also the most universal. We recognize that we are not defective or alone in our experiences (we normalize).

 Brown asserts that empathy and shame are on opposite ends of a continuum. Shame results in fear, blame (of self or others), and disconnection. Empathy is cultivated by courage, compassion, and connection, and is the most powerful antidote to shame. Brown references Theresa Wiseman’s four defining attributes of empathy:

  • to be able to see the world as others see it

  • to be nonjudgmental

  • to understand another person’s feelings

  • to communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings

  • Brown defines empathy as a skill, and so she stresses actively practicing giving and receiving empathy."


“When we start losing our tolerance for vulnerability, uncertainty, for risk — we move away from the things we need and crave the most like joy and love and belonging, trust, empathy, creativity.”  Brené Brown


"If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive." From Tedtalks, Brene Brown

An interview with Brené Brown, Ph.D. Author of "Women & Shame"
"Let me say a little bit about empathy and strategies of disconnection—both of these concepts are critically important pieces in building our understanding of shame. Building shame resilience is about reaching out to others and building connection. When we do this with people in our support systems, we often develop relationships that are built on a foundation of empathy. This is incredibly important because, based on this research, I found that the opposite of experiencing shame is experiencing empathy. When we tell our stories or share an experience with someone and they respond with empathy, most of our shame loses its power. 

Expressing empathy or being empathic is not easy. It requires us to be able to see the world as others see it, to be non-judgmental, to understand another person’s feelings and to communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings (Wiseman, 1996).

When we talk about high vulnerability areas like motherhood because it is exchanges within these areas where our hopes of finding connection and empathy are often dashed and we find ourselves instead feeling attacked, shamed and disconnected. Many of us have developed strategies for dealing with shame and our unmet need for empathy."

 08/26/2013 - Brené Brown: "Shame Is Lethal"
"Dr. Brené Brown: "Shame Is Lethal" Shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown says shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It's the most primitive human emotion we all feel—and the one no one wants to talk about. If left to its own devices, Dr. Brown says, shame can destroy lives. Watch as she reveals the three things shame requires to grow—and the one thing that can stop shame in its tracks."
  • Shame - the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging

  • shame related to sexual abuse

  • shame is deadly and lethal and we are swimming in it deep.

  • shame - The less you talk about it, the more you got it

  • shame needs three things to grow in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgment

Brené: "You put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and you dowse it with empathy, you've create an environment that is hostile to shame. Shame cannot survive being spoken. It can't survive empathy. If I call you and something very shaming happened to me, and I call you... and I tell you, and you express empathy, shame can't survive it. Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I am alone, "

Brené: When I say I study shame, people say either "I don't know what you're talking about" or "I know exactly what you're talking about, and I'm not talking about that." But the less you talk about it, the more you've got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. So if something shaming happens to me and I call you and say, "Oh, Oprah, you're not gonna believe what happened," and you express empathy—shame can't survive that. It depends on my belief that I'm alone.... 

 You say that we need friends who will respond with empathy, not sympathy. "If you want to see a shame cyclone turn deadly, throw one of these at it: 'Oh, you poor thing.' Or the incredibly passive-aggressive, Southern version of sympathy: 'Bless your heart.

Oprah: You have such a beautiful definition of connection. I actually put it on my iPad, in the place where I keep quotes. "Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment." That made me weep.