Shame on You Written by: Deedra Hunter, LMHC

Early childhood trauma stamps us for life with a tattoo on our soul that spells the word “shame”. Even though it is hidden deep within the darkest corners of our being, the tattoo of shame marks us for life and many times keeps us from seeking the help we so desperately need to set ourselves free. Why is that? Children must receive from the people around them an abundance of love, care, understanding, and encouragement. All of this positive energy fills a child and enables him or her to learn self-love and the important ability to self-sooth. When all goes well the child grows into an adult whose life is filled with joy, purpose and loving others. However, when a child is deprived of these important necessary experiences because of trauma, life becomes a living hell. Simply put- if we do not receive love when we are young we do not learn to love ourselves which enables us, in later years, to risk being vulnerable enough to love others. To love is to experience joy. The primary cause of loveless and joyless life is shame (the lack of self-love which inhibits the ability to love and produces fear and hatred of self and others). Mental Health professionals have known for years that shame is at the root of paranoia, narcissism, sociopath, selfishness, sadism, and revenge. “It’s the quintessential human emotion” says Michael Lews, Ph.D in his writings. “All extravagant behaviors are reactions to it” – psychiatrist Donald I. Nathanson, M.D. “It’s the root of dysfunctions in families” states author of Shame and Guilt: Masters of Disguise Jane Middelton – Moz. She writes “shame is increasingly recognized as a powerful, painful and potentially dangerous emotion- especially for those who don’t understand its origins or know how to manage it”. Remember, shame is that deep feeling of lovelessness. We all feel the lesser forms of shame known as embarrassment. But as Marilyn J. Sorensen, Ph.D. states in Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem: “unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong shame is the feeling of being something wrong. When a person experiences shame, they feel there is something basically wrong with me.” She further states “children who are continually criticized, severely punished, neglected, abandoned, or in other ways abused or mistreated get the message that they do not ‘fit’ in the world- that they are inadequate, inferior or unworthy”. As a LifeWorks Counselor who specializes in trauma, eating disorders, and addictions, I would like to add children who are bullied because of being or looking different are also stamped with shame on their souls. Because of my specializations all the people I treat have shame at their cores. It is my job to help them verbalize this inner torment, identify the origin, and have the courage and support to being the journey inward. When we are able to expose ourselves to- ourselves we are able to be set free of “the same that binds”. If anything in this article has made you nod your head than I invite you to do two things. First, read Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw and second, call me at the LifeWorks Group. There is no charge for a 15 minute consultation and it could be the best investment of your life.

Written by: Deedra Hunter is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has also published a book called; Winning Custody: A Woman’s Guide to Retaining Custody of Her Children. She has been a mental health professional for over 20 years and specializes in the counseling and treatment of eating disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University, and her Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Thomas University. She also holds a Certificate in Chemical Dependency from University of Miami’s School of Continuing Education

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