Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 313588

Shown: posts 1 to 22 of 22. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

When I was a girl, I learned during the time I was emotionally unstable that there were parts of me that were not acceptable. So I either cut those parts off, or more likely, left them behind. And I became She Who Is As She Should Be. And for so long, I thought that was all there was to me. And boy, did it work. I was taken off all medication, released from the psychiatrist's care, my mother and daddy loved me again. And I figured that that was just the way it was. That there were parts of me too shameful to be shown. That even my nearest and dearest loved She Who Is As She Should Be while not being too fond of She Who Is As She Is.

When I started therapy, I slowly grew back in touch with the disenfranchised parts of myself. And my therapist accepts them and that feels good. But it just occurred to me. While he accepts them, he's also really clear that he thinks that the only place they should be exposed is in therapy.

Which leads me back to the assumption that these really are unacceptable and shameful parts of myself. In the end, does his approach do me any good?

 

Re: Never mind

Posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:26:53

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

I have some strange feeling that I'm forgetting an important part of the equation.

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by noa on February 15, 2004, at 12:30:54

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

Ask him about your perception.

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah

Posted by Poet on February 15, 2004, at 15:24:45

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

Hi Dinah,

Equations? Like an indirect proof from geometry? I flunked geometry, so I apologize if this is the wrong equation.

She Who Is As She Is (minus)
She Who Is As She Should Be =
She Who Is Who She Is

She Who Is Who She Is (plus)
She Who Is Who She Needs To Be =
She Who Is Her True Self

Maybe your therapist doesn't think those parts of you are so shameful, but doesn't want you to hurt yourself thinking about it over and over when he's not around to support you?

Poet

 

How about thinking about it this way... Dinah

Posted by Racer on February 15, 2004, at 16:25:20

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

Just as there are perfectly normal and healthy things you don't do in public, maybe there are perfectly normal and healthy things you don't show in public? You know, like you (probably) don't floss your teeth in public, or use the lav in public, or have sex in public. By the same token, maybe we don't have to show some of the emotional reality to everyone -- but it's still normal to have it?

I think about some of this a lot: what is the boundary between being "healthy" and being a "professional patient." The conclusion I've come to is that we all go through stages where we overthink all of it, but then manage to come out the other side. Well, at least we hope we do ;-)

Talking to your T about it is probably the best idea so far on this thread. It's a suitable topic for therapy, and I'd be interested in hearing what he has to say if you choose to share it here.

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by terrics on February 15, 2004, at 16:28:53

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

I agree with the others and would also be interested in what your T. has to say. terrics

 

Re: How about thinking about it this way...

Posted by pegasus on February 15, 2004, at 18:04:42

In reply to How about thinking about it this way... Dinah, posted by Racer on February 15, 2004, at 16:25:20

I like that way of thinking about it. I've been crying a lot in my T's office, about various big losses. While she's very understanding, and it feels good there, I'm glad I'm not carrying it into my everyday life (too much anyway). For one thing, it's not appropriate at, say, work, even if it is healthy grief. And for another, it's easier to handle with my T there supporting me.

Dinah, I hope this is something like what your T is doing. Although, like everyone else, I would be interested to hear what he says if you do bring it up.

- p

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 18:07:49

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

I might decide talk to him about it, but only in context. Last session would have been a good time... But I need for it to come up again before I mention it, or he'll make a big deal about *why* I'm bringing it up. And if there's anything I hate, it's the "why are you bringing this up" interrogation.

But I really must say, and I didn't take offense or anything because I didn't really make clear what on earth I was talking about, but I don't see the whole real me as something that should only be exposed in private. I may not be perfect, but I have things to offer that the "good" surface me doesn't. And my therapist will admit that, too. I'm just too literal to be able to understand why he thinks that those parts of me are good, but that they really should only be shown in therapy.

I dunno. Maybe I'd like him to say "I find you delightful, and I wish you would feel more comfortable showing the *you* you show in therapy to the rest of the world."

Which I suppose is a transference pipedream.

 

Poet, great proof! (nm)

Posted by gardenergirl on February 15, 2004, at 19:38:25

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by Poet on February 15, 2004, at 15:24:45

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by gardenergirl on February 15, 2004, at 19:42:11

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 18:07:49

Dinah,
I hate the "why is this coming up now" thing, too. Sometimes can't it just be, "because we ran out of time" or "because I thought of it after our last session."

Note to self: pay attention to the things I hate and try not to do them too much. (ooh, that could have SO many meanings.)

gg

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah

Posted by Karen_kay on February 15, 2004, at 21:36:35

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

OK, first of all, if you find it distressing talk to him about it. But, I know I have the same problem, and I think everyone does to a certain extent. Take for instance when you watch "Antique's Roadshow"... The best ones are when the guy ruins a $400,000 collection by pollishing it with Pledge. And you kinda feel bad for the guy, but only a little bit. But is it still "acceptable" to laugh at this chump who ruined an invaluable antique baseball card collection by glueing it together in a frame? Uh, YEAH!

We all have parts of us that are "unacceptable" I suppose one could call them that... I tend to let mine shine when they shouldn't. I laugh when someone falls on the ice (and yes, I ask if they're OK), and I know I'm a horrible person. I guess you could go by the old theory "a time and a place for everything" or you could be like me and just go with it??? But, Dinah, I really doubt there's anything about you that's completely unacceptable. If your therapist feels in his office is a more appropriate place to let those feelings out, then it's better to get them out there then not at all. Maybe you could talk about exposing them to your husband? How does that sound to you? Maybe just a small amount at a time...

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?

Posted by DaisyM on February 15, 2004, at 23:53:28

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by Karen_kay on February 15, 2004, at 21:36:35

Maybe he wants to protect you from the cruelity of the outside world. We show our vulnerable sides in therapy and I certainly would not show this piece outside. Too many risks for me.

It is the question - how honest can you really be without hurting someone? Even with yourself?

 

AHA! I think DaisyM has something there...

Posted by Racer on February 16, 2004, at 1:04:51

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by DaisyM on February 15, 2004, at 23:53:28

That's sort of what I was trying to convey above. There are times and places when certain activities are perfectly OK, but those same activities are not OK in others. Like teeth flossing, you do certain things in private.

Just as you don't want to see your CEO applying nail polish at her (his?!?!) desk, you also don't really want to know that she's having an affair, gambling compulsively, purging after every meal, etc. It's not because those things are Not OK -- it's because we want to be able to see a Leader.

OK, maybe my sleeping pills have kicked in, but try putting someone else in your place a little: if the guy who delivers mail in your office were to come to you to talk about the weird fantasies he has about covering himself in Crisco and Saran Wrap and running through the next board meeting, wouldn't you back away from him? But I'll bet he'd get a good laugh out of his roommates with the same idea.

Just like you don't walk through the bad neighborhoods alone at night, just like you don't open the door at night to a stranger wanting to come in and use the telephone, you don't have to let EVERYONE in to your self. You can pick and choose.

Here's another germ of an idea: don't think of it as hiding a part of yourself. Think of it as allowing special people into the special place that is All Of You.

(There's a short story, by Edith Wharton, called The Fullness Of Life that you might check out. It's rather tragic, in a way, but also so hopeful.)

 

Thanks all, but I don't think I explained it well (nm)

Posted by Dinah on February 16, 2004, at 1:07:01

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah

Posted by lookdownfish on February 16, 2004, at 4:43:34

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

Dinah - it's good to see you back. Would you like to give us a clue what these shameful and unacceptable parts are? Maybe we could then understand better. If you suppress parts of you character which are "unacceptable", then the "problem" will express itself in some other way. This may give give you more of a problem than you started with.

 

Family Joke that illustrates the point lookdownfish

Posted by Racer on February 16, 2004, at 11:21:20

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by lookdownfish on February 16, 2004, at 4:43:34

OK, this is really personal, and hardly anyone I wasn't related to or sleeping with has ever heard this one. Please recognise the courage it takes to tell it publicly.

{{Deep breath}}

The women in my family for many generations have all been built the same way. Big bones, tall, lean, very small breasts, and long, narrow feet. Tall means between 5'10", for the single shortest woman other than myself, and 6'2" for the tallest member of my generation. We're recent enough immigrants to know that my cousins still in Hungary are about a foot shorter, so my theory on the height issue is better nutrition here over two generations. Anyway, shoes sizes range from a 10 AA to about 11AAA. Bra sizes in the AA to A range, except for those with weight problems, who are usually about a B cup. They also have long legs, big bottoms (not huge, they're lean, remember?), and very long waists.

I'm 5'8 3/4" tall. I wear a size 6 1/2 B shoe. I'm very small boned, have a waist up around my ribcage, and wear a DDD or larger cup. The measurement around my ribs, just below the breasts, is about 28". Now, think about that. Lots of tall, thin women with long thin feet, and flat chests. Then think about me, looking entirely and completely different from them.

OK, now for the family joke:

"How did she get those boobs? Was it generations praying for boobs and those prayers all being answered at once?"

My answer to that question: "No, when my mother bound my feet, it all had to come out somewhere..."

Finally, I know, we're all exhausted by now, FINALLY, here's how it applies:

Just as in that joke, "it all has to come out somewhere." If you bind down one aspect of yourself, it will find a way to make itself known.

And personally, I'd prefer, say, size 8 shoes and a B cup...

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah

Posted by pegasus on February 16, 2004, at 13:54:40

In reply to Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it?, posted by Dinah on February 15, 2004, at 12:10:55

So, since we're not really getting it, here's a slightly different take. Maybe this is closer to what you're getting at? Or maybe not - let us know.

One of my therapy issues is SI. One of the things that my old T was always very big on was making it a less secret thing in my life. It took me 10 sessions with him to even tell *him* about it. With his support, I began to talk about it explicitly with my husband for the first time. And he has always encouraged me to find supportive people in my life and tell them. Now, I haven't done that so far, other than telling my new therapist (in the first session this time!). But his encouragement has affected me. He says that everyone has their stuff, and the people who really care about me would want to know and help. I do think of it as less freaky and crazy and shameful than I used to (sorry to other SI-ers - I just thought I needed to include my negative self talk to make the point). I've considered telling other people. I talk about it here, etc. So, his making it seem less secret has been really helpful.

What I'm getting at is, maybe are you wondering why your therapist isn't doing something like this? Trying to help you accept some of the things that you've had a harder time accepting about yourself. If he's encouraging secrecy about some things, I can see that maybe that could feel anti-normalizing and anti-accepting.

Let me know if I'm getting any closer. Or maybe I'm just saying the same old thing again?

- p

 

Re: I've written three posts and deleted three. pegasus

Posted by Dinah on February 16, 2004, at 17:54:15

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by pegasus on February 16, 2004, at 13:54:40

I think maybe I'm not ready to talk about it.

Which, if I want to be charitable, may be my therapist's theory. Perhaps he doesn't want to encourage me to be vulnerable when I'm too sensitive on the subject.

Maybe one day I'll ask him. When I think I can take the answer.

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? pegasus

Posted by Dinah on February 17, 2004, at 8:46:17

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by pegasus on February 16, 2004, at 13:54:40

Pegasus, I never did thank you for being willing to try again. It's my very favorite quality in a person, and one I'm planning to thank my therapist for today.

I just overjudged my readiness.

But if I can sneak it into the conversation with him today without getting the dreaded "why are you bringing this up now" I will.

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah

Posted by Pfinstegg on February 17, 2004, at 13:01:56

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? pegasus, posted by Dinah on February 17, 2004, at 8:46:17

So glad you're here again, Dinah! (And thanks so much for the wonderful e-mail). About shame: I'm so glad you brought this topic up. It's not something people talk about much, even here, and yet I think it's one of the feelings everyone struggles with in therapy- sooner or later. One explanation I have read- in an article by Philip Bromberg given me by my analyst- is that everyone in therapy is trying to deal with some type of trauma from the past- whether outright verbal, physical or sexual abuse, or just emotional misattunement or neglect. Because we have experienced this as children, a huge part of our mental life is devoted to expecting trauma to occur again, and to feel that it *has* occurred even though the actual event might be pretty trivial- say a slight snub from someone we didn't really care about anyway. Along with this mind-set, according to Bromberg, is a deep sense of shame about feeling and reacting this way: we are ashamed of having been traumatized, feeling unconsciously that it is our own fault, or that we in some way *deserved* it, and even more ashamed that we react with so much fear to very small stressors.

This made a lot of sense to me, and I am trying now not to hide my sense of shame in my sessions, but to bring it in. The quiet, kind acceptance I receive from him helps me treat myself in a kinder way, or at least, to notice when I am feeling ashamed, and remind myself that I *might* have options.

This ties in with another point that both Bromberg and Shore made in their articles: where you have trauma and fear, you can't have thoughtfulness- you're stuck in the limbic system! As one goes over and over the same ground in therapy with a therapist who pays a lot of attention to the relational aspects of the treatment, you begin to build better connections between the limbic system and the neo-cortex. You get over the trauma by using the new, less-traumatizing relationship with the therapist to actually build new brain connections, which help us to react more moderately to various stressors. I said "less-traumatizing" on purpose, as of course,they never "get it right" all the time! (and we don't either).

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Pfinstegg

Posted by pegasus on February 17, 2004, at 13:37:51

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by Pfinstegg on February 17, 2004, at 13:01:56

Very interesting. Thanks for bringing this up. Bromberg sounds just about right. I feel a lot of shame - in therapy and out. It's true that it has to do both with feeling like my problems are my own fault, and that my responses to them are not valid.

I think I'll try talking about this with my T. I think shame has gotten in the way of a lot of potential therapy.

- p

 

Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Pfinstegg

Posted by Dinah on February 17, 2004, at 22:17:36

In reply to Re: Shame - is my therapist perpetuating it? Dinah, posted by Pfinstegg on February 17, 2004, at 13:01:56

It's fortuitous that you should write this today. It was, I think, the subject of our session and I think if I study your post, I might understand the session better.

Although to be honest, it was one of those sessions that perhaps neither of us did well. By the end of it, I think we were each confused by what *we* were saying, never mind what each other was trying to say.

Sometimes it seems like I get one good session a week and one frustrating one. I wish he'd tell me which was going to be the good one in advance so I can skip the other one.

The content of the session is slipping away from me really quickly, and I suppose I'd better cogitate on it. I'm just so sleepy today. The only thing I really remember from the session is that he said he likes to drink while smoking cigars. Sigh. Good thing I only want to know him within his office walls, because otherwise I'd be rapidly losing respect for him.


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