Carolyn Spring’s Shame Training and Resources
Shame affects everyone. But its impacts aren’t always obvious, and so we may not realise that we’re acting and reacting out of shame. Generally we think of shame as a bad thing – but is it? Is it all bad? Or does it have a purpose? – a purpose rooted in our evolutionary neurobiology?
Shame is a principal consequence of trauma, especially interpersonal trauma such as child sexual abuse. We’ve often thought that this is because somehow we cognitively assess the trauma to be shameful, but the reality is more in the fact that there is a huge overlap between the neurobiology of shame and the neurobiology of trauma. Both take us into the ‘red zone’ (in the words of the trauma traffic light) of shutdown, dissociation, freeze and submission.
And so the purpose of shame is actually survival: shame teaches us to avoid behaviours that would see us excluded from the group. And shame puts the brake on behaviours that provoke more attack. Shame is principally a bodily state, rather than a mental one: its roots are in our physiology rather than our thoughts. And that is why shame rarely responds easily to words. In fact, even just thinking about shame can provoke shame in us. Treatment for shame can exacerbate shame.
Shame is debilitating, destructive, and sometimes even dangerous, even though its primary evolutionary purpose is to keep us safe. How can this be? What can we do about it?
Explore our resources below, and especially our ‘Working with Shame’ course to find out more.
This popular course looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of shame, how it manifests – especially in a therapeutic setting – and how we can work with it.
for your bookshelf
A book for psychotherapists and their clients – and for anyone who wants to make the journey from shame to unshame.
Stigma is the double-whammy of life after trauma. Not only do we suffer abuse in childhood, perhaps resulting in a post traumatic or dissociative disorder in adulthood, but then we are stigmatised, shunned and shamed for it too. How can that be right?
Shame. It’s a familiar word and yet the more I think about it, the stranger it becomes. What does it mean? Where does it come from? How does it go? What is the point of it? Why does it even exist?