In the modern age, shame is often seen as an unmitigated bad. According to this popular view, all shame is negative and toxic and steps should be taken to avoid and rid oneself of it. My guest today, however, makes the contrarian case that some shame is actually necessary to develop a true sense of self.
His name is Joseph Burgo, he’s a clinical psychologist and the author of the book Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem. Today on the show Joseph and I discuss what exactly shame is, what it feels like, and the difference between toxic shame and productive shame. Joseph then walks us through the sources of shame and how childhood shame can mark us for life. We then discuss tactics we use to mask or avoid feelings of shame, how these masking behaviors can sometimes get in the way of us making progress in our lives, and more productive ways to engage with shame. Joseph then digs into the culture of online shaming and the dangers we face as a society when we shame men by pathologizing healthy masculine attributes like assertiveness, risk-taking, and competitiveness.
- What is shame? What do people usually mean when they talk about shame?
- Why do we feel shame?
- The difference between shame and guilt
- Is shame always bad?
- Toxic shame vs. helpful shame
- The sources of shame
- Can you overcome childhood traumas? How do those experiences manifest in adulthood?
- The strategies we use every day to cope with and avoid shame
- When those strategies help us and when they hurt us
- Men and shame — unique sources, strategies, denials, etc.
- How shame is becoming weaponized on social media
- Shame and masculinity
- How can we make sure we’re using shame in a positive way?
- How should we really view shame?
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw
- Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
- Why I Like When Other Men Make Me Feel Bad About Myself
- AoM series on honor
- The Narcissist You Know by Dr. Burgo
- “The Neurobiology of Secure Attachment”
- How to Close the Character Gap
- Your Son Isn’t Lazy — How to Empower Boys to Succeed
- Burgo’s article in the Washington Post
- “The He Hormone” by Andrew Sullivan
Connect With Joseph
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Read the Transcript