There is no word more causative in the human language than shame. We build words around it - essentially referring to it - such as "dignity", "honor"
and "respect"; what were talking about with these words is not immediately apparent, because it refers to an abstract state. This state is an "ideal".
It is good to feel dignity, to feel honored and to feel respected. But what do these terms mean without their converse - or that which they implicitly
Shame is so utterly pervasive, so utterly "in" us and "in between" us. Because we reflexively self-organize, or experience the world in a certain way
whenever we act or are acted upon, we don't notice it. We don't notice what we don't pay attention to.
Ideas and perceptions sort of fly in and
out of our minds, yet we know. We know in whats called a "non-conceptual" way that shame-like emotions rule our way of responding. And its quite
simple, actually. It is quite obvious that the evolution of social organisms uses phenomenal (experiential) states like pride and shame to indicate
the status of the organism vis-a-vis his or her group.
Imagine a situation where Kor, a paleolithic man 280,000 years ago, began to notice and ruminate upon the size of his body - a manly 6'4 inches - in
relation to others, and couldn't help experiencing his size as an advantage; a thing to be desired and wanted. Although the manners of relating within
his group are generally nurturing and mutually reciprocal, Kor still feels deep in his bones the metaphorical relation between size and strength,
abilities, prowess, women and power. So, one day, Kor attacks Tuk, a much smaller man at 5'9, because Tuk had been speaking to a girl Kor liked. Long
story short, following the attack, all the members of the group gang up and start berating Kor about being only for himself. Within the group, an
ethic and manner of relating has emerged and self-stabilized as each member caring for the other. It has proven the most stable evolutionary method of
promoting survival: one member becoming dynamically connected in his phenomenology with the states of his fellows. Happy and pleasurable states are
sought; traumatic experiences are understood through ritual enactments that "control" the feelings within; and bullying and free-loading is dealt with
through ostracism and censure, in behavioral terms. But in phenomenological - or the flow of our consciousness - terms, the experience of shame marks
the dynamical inter-connectedness with the Other i.e. the presence of other group members. Your being and your brain only works in the context of
mutually caring relationships where one self recognizes and approves the expressivity of another self, who then reciprocates it. The self we each have
is truly a quilt of innumerable iterations of self-recognizing-self experience in the evolution of our genus, which, it must be noted, is a
continuation of the more basic flow of biological evolution. A self is truly there, implicit in its wanting to be, to cohere, to persist, to
reproduce, but most of all, to find its way into the deeper regions of its purpose: to rediscover the inner core of its truest nature.
The self is at the core of evolution, and at the core of human experience. This is why trauma, which breaks down the social and interpersonal self -
the narrative self - but still leaves the experiencing self alone, can be so revelatory. The experiencing can become a window into its self, until the
wayward worries of a mind built to know the other becomes overwhelmed by evil thoughts, which twist and turn him on the inside. There is no defense
against the demons of our traumas without a coherent narrative: Our brains SEEK it. The interpersonal knowings that prompt feelings of joy and
pleasure, and so the social self in it's absolute fullness (what we live for!) lacks that coherent story, that coherent template of a self-that-feels
competent quality. Without that, the Self becomes self; and the poor creature knowing such suffering on the inside will suffer and wither towards its
original nothingness; or, it'll be fortunate enough to discover an incredible power in that very knowing of nothing. Somehow, love exists there, right
next to fear and terror.
We hate the word Shame
We hate this word. We don't like hearing it because it actually irritates us. Shame tends to be avoided in normal discourse. We can say "embarrassed"
or "awkward" or even "humiliate", but we avoid this word as much as possible. Only in our most intimate moments - and only the therapeutically
inclined - will reveal to themselves that they felt this emotion.
Why is shame so real? As mentioned above, it serves an evolutionary purpose; the group, originally, used it to maintain coherency between members,
which is to say, an equality, a relationship based on actions and not physical characteristics (primarily). So when it was felt, the magic of being
depressed the functioning of one in favor of the Others i.e. care and love.
However, saying this is not the end of it. Shame occurs non-stop in YOUR experience, except you've been trained by past discoursing with the world to
notice its presence. Its implicit in the adaptational structure
of reflexive social language scripts. "Like" whatever, such valley girl talk,
and the copious other examples on pop radio, provide simple examples that your brain takes from, records (in terms of the affect it generates) and
then stereotypes as a Go-To-Way-Of-Being, sure fire way to attain the pleasure of pride. Were pleasure seekers, its said, but we fail to recognize
that were also shame-avoiders. Your brain doesn't just note the good it interfaces with, but also the bad. The Do-Not-Be-Like-That states, the loner
who eats by himself, the woman who talks funny, the people in the streets; were given plenty of examples from day to day, from T.V to school to work,
that shapes how we idealize and how we fear; what we wish for
and what we wish against
We think these thought just fall into the ether, but they don't. They're the logic of your internal stream-of-perception. The way you know is highly
biased by these past experiences, but they do not rule our present-moment relation to the world if we simply bring our knowledge of it
change how we relate to it
and also the world. So much happens within the mind from moment to moment that keeps up the fictions we tell
ourselves about a fixed nature. "I'm lazy", "I've always been aggressive", "I've always been anxious" etc. These fictions simply derive from minds and
brains that are trained by social discourses to imagine how the world is. We really are in a sense are own genies, simply producing what it is we
expect; and what we expect we pursue.
Shame is that which prevents change; its that wall of inaction, of being "frozen" within yourself, unable to think or act. The action itself tends to
occur because our brains incline towards immediate action, a function of an evolutionary propensity to favor speed in getting away from predators.
Problem is, the predator has become our own perception; and our immediate response, like a prey, is to run away, to think something else, do something
else, so long as that #ing feeling isn't known, isn't interfaced with. The body has its reasons, of course, for disliking shame (it is metabolically
depressing), yet as we can see it is creating horrific problems in the world.
edit on 23-5-2016 by Astrocyte because: (no reason