Members in the Media
From: The New York Times

Can Shame Be Useful?

The New York Times:

MODERN American culture is down on shame — it is, we are told, a damaging, useless emotion that we should neither feel ourselves nor make others feel. This is particularly the case when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction. The nation’s drug czar, Michael Botticelli, has led a well-intentioned campaign to eradicate feelings of shame in addicted people by, in part, likening addiction to cancer, a disease outside of people’s control.

But in fact, the experience of shame — the feeling that one has failed to live up to one’s own standards — can play a positive role in recovery from addiction, as well as from other kinds of destructive habits.

Certainly, as a psychiatrist and psychologist, respectively, we have observed the corrosive effects of shame on patients with conditions over which they have scant control, especially those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And like most people, we consider it unethical, cruel and clinically pointless to disparage or judge people whose disorders — severe mental illness, cancer — are largely or entirely impossible to modify by the sheer force of will.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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