Shame About Shame

Mar 9, 2015

Shame.  One of those interesting words that seem to have a flexible use.  ‘Shame about that’ or ‘such a shame’, for example.  What does shame actually mean?

Shame might be regarded as a concept.  For example: we can suffer from ‘shame’ and from ‘being shamed’.  Shame can be the underlying cause of low self confidence and low self esteem.  We may have been left feeling shame about who and what we are as a result of an abusive childhood; from bullying at school, at home, in the workplace in later life.  Abusive relationships at any stage, but especially and most potently in early life, cam leave us crippled by shame and the consequent absence of self belief.

Yet conversely learning about the rules of life, what is or is not acceptable behaviour is often shame based.  We learn that certain actions are unacceptable from the reaction we get that leaves us feeling shame for what we have done.  Society it might be argued is regulated by the absence or presence of shame in a self that is either capable of healthily regulating behaviour (the self having also received abundantly more endorsement and praise than corrective reaction) or of creating such a degree of self loathing that shame can create zero capability for empathy and therefore a self prone to anti-social behaviour.

It is arguable too that much of ‘judgement’ that we exercise springs from the degree of shame we feel within ourselves and the rules imbued within us upon which shame is founded.

Whenever we judge (and it is a sobering exercise to number all the times in a day that we do) we create or confirm the potential for shame and such too are the consequences of prejudice as an irrational assault on the essence of another.  Prejudice exists, by definition, whenever we correct and punish as well as in the irrational demeaning of another.  The consequences of both are to create shame and misery in another.

For more on the issues and consequences discussed see my website:

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