the last track we discussed the "Shame Release technique" as a way to reduce shameful feelings in depressed male clients. Along with depression, shame
comes from many sources. As you know, there are many ways that men come to feel
shame and, consequently, depression.
Let's look at seven sources in particular
related to male shame, developed by Robert Bly. As you hear these, think of which
ones you can see as real causes of shame in clients of yours. Understanding where
the shame comes from, as you know, is one of the first steps in deciding how to overcome it.
7 Sources of Shame
1. Intentional Shaming
Sometimes, the male's parents may have flat-out told him, "You ought to be
ashamed of yourself." This kind of deliberate shaming causes male and female
children as well to be overcome with humiliation and guilt. Often a child who
has been shamed in this way will turn around and shame someone else, like a peer
or a sibling.
2. Shame through Silent Response
Another way males begin to feel ashamed is by being ignored. For instance, a child
might bring a drawing up to his father and say, "What do you think of this?"
If he does not reply, then the child is hurt in two ways. First, he thinks "If
I were an adequate person, I wouldn't have to ask for a response." Then he
thinks, "If I were an adequate person, he would have given it." The
child may then feel abandonment in addition to self-hate.
This kind of shame is often built up over years and
generations. It is the shame caused by silence about a crazy uncle or about an
aunt who was in prison. The way your male client can free himself from this cycle
of inheritance is to talk openly about family problems. I tell my clients, "Let
your children hear about your own embarrassments and invite discussion on the failures of your relatives."
4. Shaming Through Events
As you know, external events in your life can easily cause shame. The following
examples show how broad the range is. For instance, I tell my clients, "you
can be shamed by being picked last for the kickball game. You can be deeply shamed
by being sexually abused as a child."
5. Bodily Shame
While this is more prevalent in women, it seems most people are dissatisfied with
their bodies in some way. Partly due to society's high standards for body shape,
men can focus on any tiny imperfection and feel shame from it.
At a certain point, after being shamed by others,
many men can easily shame themselves. Unfortunately, some men become addicted
to shame, just as they might become addicted to alcohol. Often the intensity of
the shame makes men feel alive, or they feel comfortable in shame because they
have known it all their life. For this reason, men might seek women who may shame
them in the same way their parents did.
7. Shame of the False
Men especially may have come into this world vibrant, excitable,
and noisy. But from the beginning, their parents wanted a "nice boy" instead. So a little boy was rejected by his parents and forced to adopt a false
persona. That false self helped him some in getting by, but the grown man now
cannot forgive himself. I remind myself to reassure this type of client that by
creating a false self, he did the right thing for themselves at the time. It was
necessary to have a false self for survival purposes, and after he realizes this,
he can begin to move on, as his true self.
As we discussed
earlier, shame that stems from particular events can often be handled on a case-by-case
basis. However, what many depressed men have to deal with is continuous, maintained
shame. The healing process for such a deeply-ingrained emotion is certainly gradual.
Are you currently treating a client who exhibits these sources
of shame? Would it be beneficial to talk about these with him?
to overcome internalized shame is to redefine your present relationships. Another
way is to try to heal childhood scenes and the original cause of the shame. In
the next few tracks, we'll look more closely at these methods of conquering shame
and eventually conquering masculine depression. Specifically, in the next track
we'll discuss the strategies of "Redefining Relationships" and the "Reparenting
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
What seven sources of shame? To select and enter your answer go to .