1. Mental Health Problems
  2.  | Toxic Shame

Toxic Shame

Toxic shame is a sense of shame that is so strong or pervasive that it negatively impacts on day-to-day living.

Everyone experiences shame at one time or another.

It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful and when shame becomes toxic, it can ruin lives.

Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction.

We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves.

We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.

We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.

Unlike ordinary shame, “internalised shame” hangs around and alters our self-image.

It’s shame that has become “toxic,” a term first coined by Sylvan Tomkins in the early 1960s in his scholarly examination of human affect.

For some people, toxic shame can monopolise their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.

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Characteristics of Toxic Shame

Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:

  • It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
  • When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
  • The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
  • An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
  • It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
  • It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
  • We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
  • It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.

Unhelpful Beliefs Based on Toxic Shame

The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of knowing.” Most frequently, internalised shame manifests as one of the following beliefs;

  • I’m stupid
  • I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner)
  • I’m a failure
  • I’m a bad person
  • I’m a fraud or a phony
  • I’m selfish
  • I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas)
  • I hate myself
  • I don’t matter
  • I’m defective or inadequate
  • I shouldn’t have been born
  • I’m unlovable

The Causes of Toxic Shame

In most cases, shame becomes internalised or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood.

Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behaviour. For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior.

Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents. When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly (for example ‘you should feel ashamed of yourself‘), children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired.

However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.

If not healed, toxic shame can lead to anger, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction problems.

It generates low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism, and it limits our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships and professional success.

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Psychological Therapy for Toxic Shame

If you’re committed to overcoming your Toxic Shame problems then we highly recommend following our Advanced Tranceformental CBT programme with Paul which is available as an Online Therapy as well as a self-directed programme.

The Tranceformental programme is a highly successful & pragmatic mental health counselling course, run over 10 sessions, that will teach you everything you need to know to understand your problem, identify how unhelpful thinking and limiting beliefs might be reinforcing the issue, and then show you how to make any changes to your unhelpful thinking styles or maladaptive safety behaviours that you may have developed as part of your coping strategies.

Our Tranceformental CBT programme is an evidence-based, research supported approach used by mental health practitioners around the World.

Teach Yourself CBT and Overcome Your Problems for only £149!

Our online CBT course has been designed to teach you the fundamental tools and techniques of clinically proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy without having to see a therapist.

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Structured over TEN, in-depth modules, this self-managed course will teach you everything you need to know to change the way you think about and experience your mental health problems without having to visit a therapist.

Click Self-Help CBT to find out more.

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Alternative Therapy Options for Toxic Shame

Although our preferred form of mental health counselling for Toxic Shame is Tranceformental CBT we also offer alternative psychotherapies for those who might prefer a different approach.

These include:

  • Psychodynamic therapy which focuses more on emotional problems and relies on the Therapeutic Relationship to bring about change. Available with Paul.
  • General Counselling which is less structured but still provides a safe and non-judgmental environment to discuss issues which is therapeutic in its own right.
  • Hypnotherapy is an alternative form of therapy that can be applied to a very wide range of problems and is available with Joan.
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Free Initial Consultations for Toxic Shame

We offer all prospective clients an initial consultation to discuss your Toxic Shame prior to commencing any treatment plans.

The consultation is free and lasts around 50 minutes.

During this consultation we will discuss the various options that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.

Initial consultations are also available as part of our online therapy service.

At TranceForm Psychology we recognise the importance of the therapeutic relationship in helping people to bring about effective change, so its important to be able to ‘meet’ to discuss our change programmes BEFORE proceeding.

Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking work with us, including both the financial and personal implications.

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Overcome Your Mental Health difficulties with Our Online CBT Programme - From Only £299!

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is clinically proven to be effective for a range of mental health problems and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home.

Structured over TEN, in-depth modules, our advanced CBT course will teach you everything you need to know to change the way you think about and experience your problems without having to spend a fortune.

The course is available with 2, 5 or 10 sessions of clinical support in-clinic or using Zoom.

Click Tranceformental CBT to find out more.

Also available as a self-directed course that you manage yourself without interacting with a therapist for only £149.

Get in touch with us.

Psychologist Paul Lee in Wombourne Clinic

Contact Paul

View Paul's Profile

Tel: 07434 776125

paul@tranceformpsychology.com

Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist Joan Lee in Wombourne Clinic

Contact Joan

View Joan's Profile

Tel: 07434 776504

joan@tranceformpsychology.com

Contact Binder

View Binder's Profile

Tel: 07931 517241

binder@tranceformpsychology.com

Tranceform Ltd.

E-mail Tranceform Psychology

Mobile Paul: 07434 776125
Mobile Joan: 07434 776504
Mobile Binder: 07438 389931

Self Directed CBT Programme Website: Tranceformental.com

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