It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

The Shame Game

page: 1
8

log in

join
share:

posted on Feb, 22 2016 @ 11:42 PM
link   
Shame is one of those emotions that nobody ever likes to talk about, acknowledge or even notice. The most amazing thing to me as a psychologist who studies human evolution and the development of the human mind is how unaware humans have historically been vis-a-vis this emotion. Sure, the ancients had a word for shame, but there was really no significant study into it. Somehow, the etiological relationship between one affect and another was never explored, perhaps because the world was too "full" of positive meaning, or too in need of a negative meaning, to recognize the messy complexity of emotions which act most strongly on our personality development, which create needs, sensations, thoughts and ideals. Shame, in its true importance, only makes sense in psychodynamic terms, and so perhaps humans had to await the "mechanization" of the mind, in Darwin, Freud, Cognitive Science, and latter day theorizing in various areas of the social sciences.

Perhaps the most astonishing hypothesis of all, in terms of how it changes our thinking about ourselves, is that we aren't "individuals" at all, but expressions of a group phenomena which finds its "homeostasis" in the coordinated functioning of relating minds. When the individual is seen in this respect, at various levels, we can make out the "logic" of organism-environment coregulation. There is "one" thing happening, but it is split up between individual organisms. My mind is built to "care" about your facial responses, vocal tones and body language. I want, in a very general way, positive feedback from my environment.

Of course, one could also argue that all animals are "fitted" to their environments; indeed, they are. But it is purely physical. The mind of one animal does not "sense into" the mind of the other the way our minds manage to attend in very specific ways to complicated mental assumptions implicit in our every moment of thought and perception. We think, in short, as "humans". The "human", it seems, or is often thought, is simply me. But this is wrong. Much research in developmental psychology has shown that the human mind does not become "human" in the absence of the presence of another face. Somehow, the brain wont grow without the 'spark' of moving faces, gesticulating body's and effervescent voices. When that happens, the eyes follow, the mind is 'activated' and brought into being - a being that will become so habitual as to almost seem "my own", and not social, communal, and relational at its very core. Consciousness - or human consciousness - exists as it does because of the other. The "other", is simply what is not you, but what is always present. It may be interpreted generally as "everything" one can think or sense i.e. as an object. But this wouldn't be entirely correct, as the "other" in human beings is most essentially the other person, the other face, whose activity we probe and whose expressions communicate meanings that far transcend the processes of ordinary matter.

In any case, why would shame hurt? Or rather, why is it the most painful emotion, feeling, or affect, known to the human heart? Some psychologists have defined shame as "interrupting interest", which is to say, it brings to an end any will or thought in the mind of the individual currently experiencing it. This is an important point to always keep in the front of your mind: shames power is its ability to literally "shut off" your self. So, if the self is important and meaningful - as of course we know it is - naturally, we will be most phobic and fearful of those emotional states which bring us to a state of weakness and infirmity. But what makes shame so special is that it touches at our very highest level of concern: our interests as social beings, to be liked, to be enjoyed by others, and to have fun. Shame turns that off. It momentarily says to "nope, sorry, you're out. Get the # out of here!" and there you go, find something else, like objects, to pass your time. The pleasures of engagement - at least right now - is not going to happen!

Horrible. No? It is, and this is why evolution, as it does, needed to adapt. And it did. We evolved psychodynamic techniques to 'get away' from the perception of shame in ourselves. Yes - this is an interesting irony in the history of thought. The perception of emotion - shame - is reacting the same way as an antelope responds to a lion: with fear. But this is all in our head! How interesting it is, metaphysically speaking, that the mind has become the new environment in human beings! In any case, the perception of shame induced dissociative processes that inclined the mind to focus upon meanings amenable to the needs of the self in the present moment. Every interaction, every cue and every context, has a preexisting network of connections in the brain that it acts upon, so that our way of responding really are whats called "limited cycle attractors" in dynamic systems theory. These are 'basins of attraction' that the meaning-hungry mind is activated when it senses the cues from the world around it. And shame is it's main foe: it knows it. Your brain too knows it. And you, like me and most everyone else (sparing only those who've spent the time to know themselves more deeply) use things like this:

All of these techniques are dissociative in nature in that they defocus you from the unwanted perception.

Laughter. Laughter is great, its awesome, but its also recognized as an effective dissociative mechanism to get the self from feeling shame in a personal and internal way, onto an external and objectified take on the action-itself which has prompted the laughter. The psychologist Michael Lewis says this about laughter:

"laughter, especially laughter around ones transgression as it occurs in a social context, provides the opportunity for the transgressing person to join others in viewing the self. In this way, the self metaphorically moves from the site of the shame to the site of observing the shame with the other."

There is also anger. Anger is a response of the self to its own experience of shame, but at the same time directed towards the cause of the shame response, that is, another person. Anger is way of moving from the "frozen mobility"of a shame state into the "firery assertiveness" of an anger state. It's simply an unconsciously made effort of the brain-mind to bring the self-affect complex to a state of coherency and stability (i.e. familiarity), however unstable it really is.

People also just flat out deny the presence of shame in them. They refuse to acknowledge what they themselves habitually experience, again, and again, simply because they wont give a perception "license" in their epistemological universe. If they admit the perception, and say to themselves, "yes, I notice that", such as for instance, saying "yes, I notice those bodily feelings; in the gut, dropping heart, a desire to want to hide, my face in particular", they open themselves up, as it were, to the "lion" who wants to eat the antelope. People maintain denial because the thing feared possesses a known ontological propensity; the antelope fears the lion because lion, its form, movements and action, have long indicated "threat" to the cells which make up the body of the antelope. Similarly, the feeling of shame has long held the relevant neurons in the amygdala to notice its destabilizing capacity to the self-system, and so become especially 'charged' in matters




posted on Feb, 22 2016 @ 11:43 PM
link   
pertinent to the individuals social life - and all the thoughts, feelings and relevant behaviors that coordinate its social life.

The person who doubts the presence of shame, therefore, has good reason to doubt, as his life provides plenty of examples of where he needs to defocus from the perception of shame in order to "make coherent" the way social life normally flows in his mind. Indeed, environments usually spontaneously construct ways of being, so that many people occupying the same social environment tend to evolve similar ways of processing the complexities of social life, which often means, the complexities of shame-inducement.

Thinking, paranoia, misattribution ("I'm just tired, not shamed", even if the previous circumstance was a social situation that typically results in shame) are also ways to get the mind away from thinking about itself in a way that implies being "defective" as a social person.

All of this is, and exists as it does, because of the counter pole of pride. Pride is what we think we need to have, to maintain, in order to survive. But what is pride? It's a state, for sure, but it is a very general one, one that seems more pervasive than shame, in that it is implicit in so much of what we do. Pride is embodied, its in how we hold ourselves, use ourselves, in our motion in the world. Its also present all the time when we speak, as for instance, right now I can't help but know that as I write, I am being motivated at a self-conscious level, and so reflexively experience myself as intelligent, wise, articulate, and all those great things which we usually wish that others will see in us.

Pride is a powerful force that compels assertiveness. It asserts in human beings as statements, of the propositional kind, where we say "so is so". In shames pervasiveness, and prides opportunism, human beings have evolved grandiose ways of regulating one another's self-states as they talk about truly useless, meaningless, and often-times factually incorrect things. These states can even be conceived as being distributed between the relevant parties, so that they 'act this way' ONLY in these contexts. It is the specific nature of a feedback with a particular person that leads to these ways of speaking, thinking and acting. These states can sometimes seem like a type of 'being' that takes over the humans involved when they fall under its force.

Reality becomes contorted because of pride and the inclinations of the self to assert itself in matters relating to the 'real world'. Everyones imagining an wishes fall through in their actions, so its not surprising, for instance, that an insane person like Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, or Donald Trump, would find supporters, as it is pretty common for people to "mass aggregate" their individual megalomania onto a 'figure head' that embodies all their own delusions about what constitutes "good" and "value".

Pride and shame can be seen as two forces which 'battle' in the process of human relating. Shame happens when another self does not recognize "me", which is to say, my needs. When emotions 'sympathize' with one another, states are shared, and in sharing states, the brain grows and the mind exults. When one mind reflexively orients to another mind, and expresses through its outer image - the face - what is felt on the inside, it is a "shock" to the other minds homeostasis. Something 'wrong' has happened. If the world were simple, the state would freeze forever and we could know exactly how we feel. However, evolution is resourceful, so what were left to see is what can appear to be a confusing morass of emotions. But on closer look, it is obvious that the mind is noticing a feeling - the shock - when shame happens, but then reflexively enacts a LEARNED adaptive behavior - laughter, talking, denial, anger - about which the mind knows much more about, and are liable to think is "all that is there".

I believe the next stage of our social evolution has everything to do with recognizing the social-dynamic that created our distinctly unique human consciousness, and the emotion which creates so much confusion, pain, and over-determined compensation: shame.


edit on 22-2-2016 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 12:39 AM
link   
I need to go to bed so haven't finished reading. Your posts intrigue me and want to finish but bed is calling ...so tomorrow.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 12:52 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

Guilt, shame... And you got ya self a working human.. It's taught at an early age, psychology, well in Sweden actually, we tried positive reinforcement without the guilt and shame, and the generation got sorta unrealistic.. I'm for guilt and shame, but I'm for positive reinforcement as a first solution...

My steps;

Positive reinforcement
Guilt
Shame
Punishment

And the last option

Excluded..

We forget to easily we are animals, and will act as one



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 01:23 AM
link   
naw ya get away from the worldly view and it will come to ya



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 01:34 AM
link   
a reply to: Kantjil

Guilt is a big one though. We can stay there for a bit.

Shame on the other hand is something we basically want to avoid. It is a "global" emotional state, as opposed to a "local" i.e. action-specific state. Shame says "you are INTRINSICALLY pathetic"; guilt says "that thing you did was wrong". The 'distance' between action (guilt) and the self (shame) are big, so its really not necessary to push the kid to those limits, however difficult that can be in today's non-conscious, reflexive world.

Reasoning usually works, because we are intrinsically, even more than we are prone to shame or pride, loving creatures. Our capacity to show love and express compassion derives from an accurate understanding of your own essential nothingness. If you really "get" how vulnerable you are as a being, it is easy to recognize the beauty of love. It's simplicity is it's reason for beauty. The complexity of "evil' is the thoughts that shoot cynicism inside, dulling us from the essential vulnerability, emptiness, and neediness for an essential wholeness. It's actually funny how strong shame is. Because it is shame, and a feeling of worthlessness, that compels someone to think that existence isn't special or that love isn't the essence of everything. It can feel like a lot, yes. But a compassionate awareness can even sustain a tolerance for distracting feelings and complicating thoughts.

And yes, we are animals. We are built to act like one when we are mean to one another.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 01:37 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

Shame, to me, is an acknowledgement of wrong-doing, one person's physical and soulful reaction to a violation of trust or accepted rules. I have interacted with many(children especially) that exhibit physical characteristics as a result of shame, and on rare instances, people that are incapable of shame. The latter scares the pellets outta me, 'cuz in both instances, they were later diagnosed as "a danger to self and others".



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 02:34 AM
link   
Shame is very much a collective collaboration

If a societies member does something perceived as unintelligent and unaccepted by the society these events draw and attract ridicule.

Victims of bullies, child abuse, rape, scams, etc. All can often carry much shame, why? Because they feel like their unaccepted experiences places them outside, and being outside reminds them of the experience and a circle of shame in the mind.

In a school some years ago, the use of words by students was highly regulated, with long lists of words being unacceptable, while all other words to be learned. Although this posted an issue for some students, as the repeated misuse of words or ignorant use of regulated words brought much ridicule and sometimes even punishments for poor choice of words. In the students with reoccuringly feelings of shame over repeated offenses, even a few found speaking entirely shameful.

A lot of everything with humans has to do with their formative years when the mind is being created. There are many traps that can be placed in the mind, shames being one of them. This is why I am a child advocate on every level I can.

As far as ignoring things as guilt and shame maybe can maybe cannot do it, I heard Sweden is doing so so right?

You cannot remove reality of consequences but provide a balance of the individuals relation to these possible events.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 02:45 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte


"Shame" is another aspect of the shared herd mentality that creates a society, whether humans or bison. "You better keep up or you're gonna get left behind/excluded/shunned (and maybe even eaten)." As with everything else, it can become excessive as your running mates automatically load you up with intangible values that are not so easily recognized and cannot be dealt with in a rational way. Shame in its basic function, is not a bad feature except to those that want to proclaim no limits (judgements) on their personal life choices.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 04:32 AM
link   

originally posted by: Kantjil
a reply to: Astrocyte

Guilt, shame... And you got ya self a working human.. It's taught at an early age, psychology, well in Sweden actually, we tried positive reinforcement without the guilt and shame, and the generation got sorta unrealistic.. I'm for guilt and shame, but I'm for positive reinforcement as a first solution...

My steps;

Positive reinforcement
Guilt
Shame
Punishment

And the last option

Excluded..

We forget to easily we are animals, and will act as one


Out of curiousity, whose behaviour is it that you are modifying with those approaches?

It occurs to me that if shame is a social response then it is by breaking the perceived norms and values of that society that results in shame, but surely, shame can only genuinely occur as a result of consequences, because if shame was preventative, the shame would only reside in thought, followed by a realisation that what you thought would have consequences that are harmful to the social dynamic. Therefore it follows that shame is a reaction, not so much to the act, as to getting caught. In which case, either a choice is made, or examples are being set that blur the lines of what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Or, the individual who commits the shameful act does not know right from wrong, or disagrees with those norms and values in a challenging way, and shame is thrust upon them as a judgement despite their "innocence" due to poor examples being set, lack of social learning etc.

Spinoza defined shame as the pain which follows the act of which we are ashamed, and bashfulness, as the dread of shame that preceeds, and prevents us from committing the shameful act. Shame is the consequence of doing something that we know is "wrong" but do anyway, everything that is interesting about that dynamic is going on in the liminal zone between thought and action.

If shame is a socially imposed reactive to judgement/being caught in a shameful act/etc, and can be used to re-enforce social norms and values, then is it a genuine instinctive emotion, or a socially desired state for those unwilling/unable or uneducated in "ways" of that society? I wonder if shame, pre-emptive of judgement, is simply a fear of punishment, and post-judgement, the sense of having been judged. Clearly it is far more complex than that, but still, I feel largely that shame has historically been an imposition of certain hypocritcal moralities or has been repeatedly utilised as a control mechanism and as a means of enforcing punitive systems based around social inequity.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:32 AM
link   
a reply to: Anaana

Humans;

Taught behavior in society, become human before hormones kicks in at 13, indoctrinate with guilt shame and fear or Act as a primate, well society fails, and you have an animal which cannot be in society..

Two feelings:

Fear -- Love

Then you can do whatever you want, believe whatever you feel like, we arent complex individuals..

Never put ideals in with human nature, or youll end up with the cluster f**** the world is, you see Swedes as idiots, id bet we score highest on most charts..



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 04:49 PM
link   

originally posted by: Kantjil
Humans;

Taught behavior in society, become human before hormones kicks in at 13, indoctrinate with guilt shame and fear or Act as a primate, well society fails, and you have an animal which cannot be in society..


Children develop secondary sexual characteristics generally by 13 but they experience hormonal rushes periodically throughout their development. Children learn acceptable behaviour best by example, and assuming the child has normal cognitive abilities, by being consistent in that example. We are conceived as human, we don't act like primates, humans are primates. What behaviour is it that you think that children should be taught to be shameful of before they reach puberty?


originally posted by: Kantjil
Two feelings:

Fear -- Love [/quote[

Fear of what?


originally posted by: Kantjil
Then you can do whatever you want, believe whatever you feel like, we arent complex individuals..


You may not be admittedly, but most are.


originally posted by: Kantjil
Never put ideals in with human nature, or youll end up with the cluster f**** the world is, you see Swedes as idiots, id bet we score highest on most charts..


I don't think the Swedes are idiots at all, but do wonder what part eugenics plays in those high scores, was it 1974 when you stopped compulsory sterilisations?




posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 08:58 PM
link   
Ha! So let me step in with the anthropologist's view.

Shame is actually "loss of face" and involves you and another (whether the Other is a deity or a person or something that you have an emotional bond with. If you strip naked and start walking down a trail, you don't feel shame (unless you've been conditioned to constantly be ashamed of any awkwardness in yourself - and there the same is generated by proxy, so to speak, where you behave as if you're being perceived.) You DO feel shame if your garments fall off in front of others in situations where these actions will result in your being shunned or criticized or ostracized by the group.

If the individual does not fear a loss of face by their actions, they will not feel shame -- so the "we'll shock them by streaking" folks do not fear a loss of face (because they assume their actions will be consequence-free or have minimal consequences.)

Politeness theory is an interesting and fairly new field of study (as far as I know.) I have some interest in Politeness and Ancient Egypt.



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 02:44 AM
link   

originally posted by: Byrd
Politeness theory is an interesting and fairly new field of study (as far as I know.) I have some interest in Politeness and Ancient Egypt.


It may be a "fairly new field of study" but as you imply, a very old art of social propriety. The Eloquent Peasant, to my mind, seems to encapsulate much of the premise described by your wikipedia link, as do a number of Aesop Fables, The Fox and the Crane, for example.




top topics



 
8

log in

join