Fear, anger, guilt, and shame are the basic emotions that people who go to a psychology consultation usually bring.
The failed regulation mechanisms of these emotions created by the person in order to have the feeling of control are what cause psychological pathologies.
In this article, we are going to talk about shame.
What is shame?
Shame is a secondary emotion, which is unique to human beings and has a social origin, just like guilt with which it is closely related.
These emotions are called secondary to differentiate them from the emotions that are common to all mammals and are called primary emotions.
Shame is an emotion that makes us feel a sense of little worth, in relation to ourselves and to others.
Shame has a social function that consists of modifying and regulating our behavior in front of others and inhibiting negative emotions or behaviors. It fulfills a function that helps to be able to interact with others and create social norms to coexist.
This emotion consists of activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that serves to inhibit behavior that is experienced as wrong.
How does shame appear and how does it work?
Shame, and also guilt, appear as a warning to know and anticipate the actions of caregivers and to be able to modify behavior to avoid suffering in the future. Guilt and shame would be like the internalization of the voices and the looks of others respectively.
Shame is the first emotion that appears in the child, it is experienced early, before the appearance of language, when the child feels that he is not approved by his mother (or by his main caregivers). Its origin is prior to guilt and it feels like a more somatic sensation, that is, it is always felt in the body. In some people, this sensation will be felt in the body as a feeling of emptiness.
Parents, by scolding their children and setting limits, generate a feeling of shame and discomfort in order to educate them, avoid dangerous or inappropriate behaviors or that may harm our social relationships.
There are many ways to control it, including therapy, sessions, and supplements. CBD and Delta 8 are also known for helping people overcome anxiety and feeling of shame.
Insecure attachment, conflicts or momentary ruptures of the attachment bond are resolved from the affection in a short time and allow the child to learn little by little to regulate himself. Thus, shame, in its healthy aspect, leads us to interact in society by setting limits to our needs in front of others.
And yes, shame has also an indirect relation with immune system. In avoidant or anxious attachment, the breakdown of the attachment bond is constant, which creates a feeling of pathological shame that is based on the belief that “I am not worth it”, that is, “I am defective.”
If this sensation is felt frequently in childhood, it becomes innate and constant in all subsequent relationships in adolescence and adulthood. If the child does not find repair when he is afraid or on alert for fear that the affective bond with his parents will be broken, he will begin to internalize the feeling that he is defective or that he is worth little and this feeling will accompany him for life preventing him from can relate normally, feeling ashamed with almost everyone.
As you get older, the shame becomes more automatic and more immersed in mental schemes and less dependent on external circumstances.
You can feel ashamed both in social situations and when it comes to failing or making mistakes in tasks that are performed. It is the feeling of fear of making a fool of yourself or failing that causes intense anxiety that pervades the entire being.
Work with shame in therapy
In therapy, in the first sessions, one begins to validate the patient’s “ego” by confronting the ideas or beliefs that I am not worthy or I am defective.
Later, we will work on the origin of shame, reliving and changing the emotional memories of shame that could remain entrenched since childhood or adolescence.
And, once the previous work is done, social situations or situations in which you perform tasks in which you usually have that feeling of shame or fear of desensitized failure.
Therapy for sham: Psychology of shame
Shame is often the aftermath of a traumatic occurrence. A person may believe they are to blame for their suffering, feel guilty and embarrassed for surviving, or be ashamed of sexual or other types of abuse. When trauma causes shame, it’s critical that treatment is trauma-informed and tackles the source of the problem. Some treatment alternatives are as follows:
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR),
- Stress inoculation training (SIT),
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),
- Cognitive processing therapy (CPT),
- Prolonged exposure (PE).