“The way that shame operates is how the subject feels under the eyes of another person. Basically, shame needs a witness, so we need to engage in some kind of behaviour that is witnessed by another, and then the consequence of that witnessing is that we are shamed... What happens after that is we internalise those people’s eyes, so in a sense we can shame ourselves by imagining how people feel about our behaviour afterwards.”
Psychotherapist Aaron Balick speaks on this week’s episode of The Digital Human about the influence of shame in our lives: how it can control and limit our behaviour and our beliefs about ourselves.
And Seraphina Ferraro, who became trapped in an abusive relationship by shame, tells how she found that the antidote to shame can also be found in witnessing: in the empathic reception of our experience by non-judgmental others, and the sharing of stories among people who’ve been shamed in similar ways.
To hear more about shame online and offline, click here (BBC iPlayer, 30 min).