If a child is adequately stroked and nurtured, they will tend to trust, with a basic sense of ok`ness with self and others. If the child is allowed to progress towards autonomy and assert themself with confidence, they will not over-adapt, retreat or live in denial. If one is not allowed to express and exhibit full emotions, shame may manifest, embodied in psychosomatic experiences and emotions. Shaming instils a special fear as it operates within the realm of instinctual self-preservation. The child`s survival is threatened, unable to accurately access and endure the elements of danger. The child has to adapt to the family`s culture and civilisation, limiting growth and emotional development. The child establishes defences to overt or covert shame in the present moment, utilising dysfunctional behaviours and thoughts to relieve one of the experiences.
Shame messages are internalised in the child’s ego state as cultural taboos, injunctions embodied in the whole sense of being. Shame binds like chains, where psychological submission occurs to avoid the vulnerability of feeling flawed and unloved. Shame has to be made conscious, brought into the light of awareness, and exposed to the adult ego, which can challenge the necessity and viability for the shame to remain.
Self-righteousness works as a protective mechanism to help the individual avoid vulnerability to humiliation. The threat of abandonment or rejection and the loss of contact in the relationship. Shame disrupts attachment and attunement, where reproach or disgrace can lead to loss of self-esteem. An unaware hope that the other will take responsibility for repairing the rupture in parental relationships, with self-righteousness, is used to deny the relationship’s need. Self-righteousness also creates a pseudo triumph over the humiliation and generates inflated self-esteem and justification for projecting the shame outward. Shame is a complex process involving.
- A diminished self-concept lowers one`s self-worth in compliance with the external object.
- A defensive transposition of sadness and fear
- A disavowal of anger.
When anger is disavowed, a valuable aspect of the self is lost, and the need to be taken seriously and respectfully—the need to impact the other without diminishing the self. Sadness is the feeling of not being accepted as one is, with one`s own urges, desires, feelings, behaviours and fears. A deep sense of unlovability, with a yearning to connect with others, but is afraid. Shame develops extreme self-consciousness and also signals deep relationship longings. Archaic shame is an internal expression of the intrapsychic conflict between a reactive child ego state and the influencing/dominant parental ego. Childlike compliance may be seen as freezing, fawning and avoidance of fighting—the use of ego splitting, the reversal of aggression and transformation and denial of affect.
Shame becomes a fixated enduring pattern of emotions, behaviour and cognition, which may persist into and dominate adult life.
These script beliefs are a self-reinforcing conditioning system, defending against greater awareness of something being wrong. When a child has endured years of parental misattunement, invalidation, and criticism, they may longer seek relationships, are unable and unwilling to communicate their needs, and affect others. The need to affirm their anger in response to the injustices will allow the child to express one`s inner rage and impact the environment, and separate from fused symbiosis. As the child’s impulses are never relieved, the impulse increases, and anger will escalate, resulting in loss of contact and abandonment. The need for contact to survive psychological death will override the anger, being repressed and disavowed. When the child focuses away from their inner feelings and needs and only focuses on maintaining the relationship, the child experiences deep shame and torment of submission. Shame can be seen as lowered heads, lack of eye contact, trembling and adrenalin rushes, stomach tightening and panic attacks.
Shamed people attack first, are hypervigilant and sensitive to perceived attacks. They avoid controversy, terrified of anger (especially of their own ), and fantasize about being humiliated. Shame is the enemy within, the dark forces that lead to inner conflicts, the split and division between good and bad. The parts we find unacceptable, too painful to integrate, endure and acknowledge. Shame operates outside one`s awareness, accompanied by immense despair, crippling terror and deep suffering. The sense of being dishonoured in the eyes of the self and others, responding by covering one`s eyes, avoiding mirroring and seeing, being seen and making contact. The introjection of a negative. The destructive image of the parent is felt as dangerous to the self-survival.
Any identification with the bad object makes one believe one is the devil or having evil parts within them.
The split within oneself generates immense pain, fear of abandonment, rejection, and contempt for weak feelings, leading to emotional paralysis and avoidance of relationships. Prolonged feelings of shame are unbearable, exhausting and disturbing, with an inner sense of immediate exposure, humiliation and helplessness. One may escalate anger, impotent rage, and dysfunctional behaviours to relieve inner tensions. Shame may express itself in multiple forms :
- Internalising and identifying with the abuse /abuser – leading to despair
- Projecting the abuse outside of the self through blame and paranoia
- Developing a psychosomatic illness to express feelings indirectly.
As fear is directly associated with terror and the possibility of abandonment /death, it leads to misjudgements inability to anticipate the future with defective actions and function. Paranoia and blaming avoid being guilty, shamed or responsible, staying fused with fantasy, and staying dependent on repressed delusions and beliefs. Shame and guilt are different ways of perceiving the other concerning the use of power.
- Guilt – The self-causing injury to the other injured parties
- Shame – An inner sense of inferiority, where the other is more powerful and can inflict injury via scorn, contempt or humiliation. Creates submissive behaviour by shrinking back, withdrawing, hiding and no eye contact.
Shame develops before cognition and within osmosis
The child will defend against overwhelming by internally withdrawing or behind a wall of adaptation ( submissive behaviour). There is no other to differentiate from and be defined in relation to.
Survival comes by creating a split between parts of the self via retrofaction.
The shame-based system is complete when retrofaction and projection work in unison. Whatever I think about myself and my feelings towards myself, I imagine the other person is thinking and feeling the same (contempt, loathing, disgust ). Shame develops in a relationship, and healing may be realised through an emotionally corrective relationship and dynamic that addresses the following four factors.
- Abuse of power by primary caretaker
- withdrawal or isolation on the part of the child via the defensive wall of adaptation
- An inner feeling of disgust and contempt towards oneself. lack of self-love
- incomprehension and lack of awareness