I’ll be in London and the UK for most of the month of August. With my new book coming out, I’m eager to provide in-service training at a clinic, or perhaps a lecture on the topic of shame and its hidden role in mental health issues, for staff therapists and interns.

And I’d love to hear from any London therapists who might be interested in getting together for coffee, lunch, or a drink sometime in August!

Please reach out to me directly at:

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.

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The Father’s Gaze

Father Holding Infant 2002

I have a memory of my father from when I was about seven years old. Whether it is factually accurate, it is emotionally true.

My mother was in Texas at the time following the death of her mother. My other grandmother, my father’s mother, had come to stay with us because he didn’t cook, clean, or involve himself with the daily routines of his children. My father was a self-employed builder and worked long hours.

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