According to John Bradshaw, one of the foremost experts on shame, “…because of its preverbial origins, shame is difficult to define. It is a healthy human power which can become a true sickness of the soul. There are two forms of shame:
As toxic shame, it is an excruciatingly internal experience of unexpected exposure. It is a deep cut felt primarily from the inside. It divides us from ourselves and from others. In toxic shame, we disown ourselves. And this disowning demands a cover-up. Toxic shame parades in many garbs and get-ups. It loves darkness and secretiveness. It is the dark secret aspect of shame which has evaded our study.
Because toxic shame stays in hiding and covers itself up, we have to track it down by learning to recognize its many faces and its many distracting behavioral cover-ups.”
John Bradshaw goes on to explain that healthy “nourishing” shame makes us human. Healthy shame is honest. Healthy shame is a way of realizing our limitations.
According to psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson 1902-1994), “a sense of shame is part of the second stage of psychosocial development. In the first stage a child needs to establish a sense of basic trust. This basic trust must be greater than his sense of mistrust. We can understand healthy shame best by understanding this trust stage of psychosocial development…Once basic trust has been established, the child is in a position to develop shame. The shame may be healthy or toxic.” Erikson said that between the ages of 15 months and three years, “the psychosocial task for this stage of development is to strike a balance between autonomy and shame and doubt.”
John Bradshaw explains at length the different processes for developing both healthy shame and toxic shame in his book.
At Renaissance Ranch, we use the work of John Bradshaw to address the issues of shame for the person struggling with addiction as well as for the family.
Real Stories of Recovery
As soon as I walked through the doors of the Ranch I felt hope. My life had spiraled into depths of shame, misery, guilt, depression, sadness, and suffocating darkness prior to reaching those front doors. The 2 months that followed would forever change my life and provide a foundation within that is unshakable.
I had a head full of gospel knowledge and a heart full of shame. I felt like a failure. I hated who I was. That all changed during my stay at Renaissance Ranch. I quickly realized that I wasn't alone and that there were others who felt the same feelings of self-hatred, failure, and shame. This realization, coupled with the nonjudgmental environment of the Ranch, I was able to be completely honest and open for the first time in my life. From the guidance and empathy of my counselors and brothers, I learned it was okay to feel and I started to believe that there was hope.
Renaissance Ranch will always be a special place to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I had already attended one rehab facility. The Ranch truly saved my life by teaching me and allowing me to understand and love who I am.
Renaissance Ranch gave me a gift that no amount of money can ever repay. Through their unique, caring approach I learned how much I was loved, and that I never had to feel alone every again.
I have been called to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the Fort Collins, CO mission. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices and love of everyone at The Ranch. I attribute my recovery to God, hard work, and the things I learned while I was there. I am so excited to go serve my Heavenly Father, it has been a long hard road to get here but I know it is what he wants me to do. My heart is full of gratitude and love for those who have cared for me... Thank you for all you have done for me...
My sobriety date is July 15 2008. And for that I am very grateful. The ranch has given Me the tools to live a life I never thought was possible. I have never forgotten the feelings I felt when I was there in treatment and that's what gets me through the day, is the feelings and brotherhood that I was so blessed with while I was in the ranch.