Recovering from Shame

As I mentioned in my last post, sales figures for my book SHAME were so weak that my publisher agreed to sell me back the publication rights. That book was (is) deeply important to me, and I had so much invested in its success, that its relative “failure” was a profound shame experience for me. In the book, I talk about one type of shame as “Disappointed Expectation” and another as “Unwanted Exposure.” The book’s poor sales figures felt to me like both; the shame I felt left me for a long time in a state of mild depression.

The re-acquisition of the right to publish has helped me to recover and I feel newly energized. I also feel that I’ve regained my feelings of pride in the book I wrote. It’s a very good book, a distillation of everything I’ve learned over the course of my career, and it deserves a wider audience. Part of the problem, I believe, was the wrong title and a scary cover. “SHAME” sounds serious, but the subtitle makes it seem less so, more like any other shallow self-help book. I chose neither one. I liked the cover at first but have since grown to see it as intimidating and off-putting; I selected yellow for the cover and I’ll take responsibility for that wrong choice.

The new title is much better and more accurate: my book is about how learning from our encounters with shame often teaches us something useful about ourselves and offers an opportunity to grow. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will do better than SHAME did.

As part of its launch, I’m offering the digital version for $.99 on Amazon through the end of May, then its price will rise to $9.99 — what I charge for Why Do I Do That? Feel free to download the discount copy and, if you are so moved, leave me an honest review on Amazon. Most people have no idea how important reviews are for inspiring confidence in prospective readers. Why Do I Do That? has more than 270 4 or 5 star reviews and for that reason, it continues to garner a new audience.

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my fantasy novel Vacillian and will be releasing it in four parts over the next few months. I’m as proud of that work of fiction as I am of the newly re-titled Building Self Esteem, available for purchase by clicking on the link below.

Building Self-Esteem: How Learning from Shame Helps Us to Grow

Do Not Buy My New Book if You Already Own “SHAME”

The sales figure for my last book SHAME were a disaster for complex reasons I’ll write about later, but to make a long story short, I was able to re-purchase the rights to publication from the publisher of that book, St. Martin’s Press. I’m now re-releasing it under my New Rise Press imprint with a different title, so I wanted to alert all of you who purchased SHAME that this is not actually a new book. I’ve had a heartening number of pre-orders for the new book, currently scheduled for a June 1 release, but you still have time to cancel those orders if you assumed I was releasing a new title.

Thanks for your support. Here’s the new cover, with its new title.

KindleCoverSelfEsteem for website

Shame for the Person You Used to Be

W.R. Bion, a British psychoanalyst who worked with psychotic and schizophrenic patients, identified a difficult transition point in their treatment. As psychotic process gradually gave way to the reality principle — that is, as his clients became more sane — they would have to confront the pain of how ill they had been before. This involved facing guilt for the hurt inflicted upon other people around them and shame for the destructive ways they had behaved. Sometimes the guilt and shame were so unbearable that his clients would retreat into psychosis.

I’ve encountered a similar challenge in my long-term work with borderline clients. There comes a time when they realize how ill they’ve been and sometimes the shame they feel is unbearable. They will retreat for a time to borderline ways of relating, where relationships and self-image are highly unstable, shifting between ideals and devaluation. It takes many months and even years before they can learn to bear the shame for the person they used to be; only then can they move on and continue growing. I actually think that anyone with a serious mental illness who spends years in therapy and changes dramatically must deal with the same issue.

Continue “Shame for the Person You Used to Be”