In this installment of The Shrink & the Pundit, Dr. Keith Witt and I discuss the emotional constellations of shame. As a therapist who has worked with thousands of clients, Keith has seen the devastating effect shame can have on psychological health. “It can literally kill us,” he explains.
It can also save us. Because shame is so powerful and central to our psyches, it is a great leverage point for metabolizing our dysfunctions. Shame is a social emotion and first comes on line in small children as a response to the inevitable disapproval from authority figures. It is the prime engine behind the development of the defensive states and patterns that create amplified or numbed emotions, distorted perspectives, destructive impulses, reduced empathy and inability to self-reflect.
As we let ourselves see and feel into the textures of our own shame we can begin to witness the admonitions of our “inner critic,” as well as the subtle energy and somatic patterning that keep it anchored in our psyche. This awareness itself is curative (to paraphrase Fritz Perls) and is a key to the psychotherapeutic process. It is also a worthy form of integral practice. As usual, Brother Keith has thought it through beautifully, and you can listen to him explain (below)…
Dr. Keith Witt is an integral psychotherapist extraordinaire, and my conversation partner for The Shrink & the Pundit dialog series. Having practiced in Santa Barbara for nearly forty years, conducting over 50,000 therapeutic sessions, Keith knows the human animal up close and personal. Keith has written several integrally-informed books, including Waking Up: Psychotherapy as Art, Spirituality and Science, The Gift of Shame, and his latest: 100 Reasons Not to Have a Secret Affair.