Interior Integration for Catholics

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Dr. Peter Malinoski takes us deeper into recognizing the signs of shame in ourselves and others, and how shame manifests in unusual ways.

Show Notes

  1. Intro: Welcome to the podcast Coronavirus Crisis: Carpe Diem!, where by God’s grace, you and I rise up and embrace the possibilities and opportunities for spiritual and psychological growth in this time of crisis, all grounded in a Catholic worldview.   We are going beyond mere resilience, to rising up to the challenges of this pandemic and becoming even healthier in the natural and the spiritual realms than we were before.  I’m clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski and I am here with you, to be your host and guide.  This podcast is part of Souls and Hearts, our online outreach at, which is all about shoring up our natural foundation for the spiritual life, all about overcoming psychological obstacles to being loved and to loving.  
    1. Thank you for being here with me.  This is episode 38, released on October 19, 2020 
    2. and it is titled: Seeing the signs of shame in yourself and others. 
    3. We are going to understand much more deeply the nature of shame, where shame comes from and how it manifests itself inside of us, and how it is expressed.  
    4. We are focusing today on learning more about shame and recognizing it -- recognizing it in ourselves and in others, becoming better able to detect it.     
    5. Remember parts of the dynamics of shame include shame remaining hidden, unobserved, unrecognized for what it is.  Shame is tricky, it's slippery, it loves to camouflage itself. 
    6. We are in a series of episodes about shame.  In future episodes we will get to how shame affects our spiritual lives and we will also focus on how to heal from shame, how to break out of the vicious shame cycles in which we find ourselves spinning.  
  2.  So Let's start by Circling back -- review of shame from the last session and then adding some real depth and nuance as we review and expand upon what we covered in the last episode, Episode 37.  
  3. Shame is: 
    1. The primary problem we have in the natural realm
    2. That gives birth to so many secondary problems -- we tend to focus on the secondary problems, the problems that are further downstream -- so we are not getting to the root.  
    3. Drawing heavily from Kathy Steele, Suzette Boon, and Otto van Der Hart -- trauma clinicians and researchers who have worked with real clinical population, real people, not just academicians. 
    4. Also drawing from Richard Schwartz and Regina Goulding -- Mosaic Mind.   
      1. Be open to really learning about this
        1. this can be challenging 

        1. take what suits you -- can slow way down.  If this is really activating for you, consider psychotherapy -- Souls and Hearts course on how to choose a therapist.
      3. If you can resolve your dysfunctional shame -- have a deep sense of being lovable and loved, by God, others and yourself, you've solved most of your psychological issues on the natural level.  
      4. Shame has five dimensions: shame is a primary emotion, shame is a bodily reaction, shame is a signal to us,  shame is an internal self-judgement, and shame is an action -- a verb (review).  
      5. Adding today behavioral expression of shame
        1. These behavioral expressions of shame are not shame itself, but they are intimately linked with shame and some of the best indicators of unrecognized shame.  

    5. Shame is more than most people assume.  We tend to have very limited, very primitive understandings of shame -- very unidimensional.  
    6. Let's review the five dimensions of shame.  
    7. Shame is a primary emotion -- heartset
      1. Primary emotions are those that we feel first, as a first response to a situation. They are unthinking, instinctive, emotions that rise up spontaneously
      1. More nuanced.  Just because you're not feeling shame in the moment does not mean that it's not there.  
        1. Consider how a wave of anger feels.  You feel normal, fine, then something happens and there is this intense anger or even rage, and then it passes, the anger goes away again.   That how we typically think of these emotional experience. That how we make sense of them.  But that's not how it is.  That is a dangerous illusion.  A falsehood.  A pipe dream.  The anger didn't just come and go, just like that.  And you know this at some level, because sometimes you ask yourself -- why am I so angry about that little thing, why did something so minor just set me off?  The emotional reaction is disproportionate to the trivial event.    
        2. A wave of shame -- feels like it wasn't there, and then something happened, like a negative review from your boss it was there in all its intensity and you're just trying to hold it together through the rest of your performance review, and then the shame passes and you're not feeling it anymore.  If I don't feel it, it's not there.  Seems reasonable, right?
        3. But what if, what if that wasn't what really happened.  What if the same amount of shame was within you the whole time -- it was just latent, outside of awareness.  And rather than the shame coming and then going, what if it was your awareness of your shame and anger that changed.   What if you at first where disconnected from your shame out of touch with it.  Then your defenses were overrun and you were overwhelmed with shame, and then your defenses were able to come back online and you no longer felt the shame. What if the intense shame was there the whole time?   That's a whole different model  Let's say that you were disconnected from unresolved shame.  
        4. A high level of shame or anger can endure within us and be intensely felt only on rare occasions when our defenses open up, when they dilate and we can see and feel the shame or anger.  In other words, all that anger or shame generally resides in the unconscious.  
        5. Unconscious
          1. The term was coined by the 18th-century German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling  -- 
            1. Schelling suggests that there are two principles in us: “an unconscious, dark principle and a conscious principle” 
            2. later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1797, who read the 18th century German idealists.

          1. Freud.  Unconscious  Mind is like an iceberg  10% above the water -- visible -- that is consciousness -- what we are aware of in the moment.  The vast majority of the iceberg is below the water, outside awareness  -- what you sense is what you get.  

        6. In North America, we largely don't act as if we believe in the unconscious.  
        7. I think all of us, because of original sin, the sins of others, our own personal sins, the fallen world we live in and our fallen natures -- we have deep reservoirs of shame.  We know we need redemption.  We can sense it at a primal level, and we have ways of distracting ourselves from that reality, from defending ourselves from that reality.  
        8. Richard Schwartz on parts -- we are not just single unitary personalities  Understanding Parts
          1. Separate mental systems each with their own
            1. Emotions
            1. Expressive style
            1. Abilities
            1. Roles in the system of the person
            1. God images

          1. Can think of them as modes of operating, subpersonalities, ego states, inner children
          2. Parts get forced into extreme roles due to attachment injuries, trauma to protect us from being overwhelmed
            1. e.g. with rage, despair, shame.  

          3. Parts also can be trapped back in time.  e.g. flashbacks -- where we are back in the shameful experience
            1. frontal cortex goes offline
            1. Leaving parietal, cortex basal ganglia, cerebellum and hippocampus 

          5. Exiled Parts are the modern lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes -- the undesirables, because of the burdens  they carry -- e.g. shame, anger, depression, anxiety, etc.  
          6. Protector parts work hard to protect you from your exiled parts -- e.g. from being overwhelmed.  
        9. So certain parts of us -- parts of us that are exiled -- carry the shame.  And our internal systems get organized to hide our shame in the unconscious, to distance ourselves from shame so that we won't be overwhelmed by it and so we can continue to function   If we didn't have a way to manage the shame it would continually overwhelm us.  Or the rage or despair or the fear.

    9. Shame as a judgment  -- a judgment of who I am.   a critical perspective of myself, a very negative attitude toward myself.    -- mindset
      1. A judgement about who I really am from the perspective of a critical, rejecting other.  
        1. I look at myself through  the eyes of critical, angry or disappointed other, often my mom or dad, daycare worker, teacher or other caregiver.  

      1. But we have internalized it.  We've take it inside.  Now a part of us plays the role of the external critical person 

      1. This parts of me repeat messages I've picked up from important others:
        1. I am a burden.  

        1. I am too needy, too dependent, I bring other people down and make them suffer
        1. I don't deserve attention and care.  

        1. Alcohol, TV and the newspaper are more important than me.  

      1. May no longer the case, no longer accurate.  Anachronistic, no longer applies.  No longer in second grade.  

      1. But these judgments are held by the judging parts of me that are trying to protect me from my own shame, from the shame-bearing parts carry the emotional aspects of shame -- a shame-filled heartset, but also the cognitive aspects of shame -- a shame-filled mindset.  

      1. And because the emotional and cognitive dimension of shame are so threatening, the parts are banished, they are driven out of awareness into exile in the unconscious.  But they are not gone.  They are just silenced for the moment.   

  1. Shame is a bodily reaction -- automatic, involuntary bodily response:  Bodyset
    1. Charles Darwin 
      1. 1872 published a book "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals"
      2. Darwin described shame the following bodily reactions:
        1.  blushing (vasodilation in face), confusion of mind, downward cast eyes, slack posture, and lowered head -- Crying -- which can exacerbate shame
      4. When exiled parts that are burden with shame break through into conscious awareness, they can overwhelm us with their distress that then takes over our bodies.  This is like in the Pixar movie Inside Out when the very thin purple Fear character takes over the control panel and dominates everything in the main character Riley.  
        1. Window of tolerance the zone of arousal in which a person is able to function most effectively -- when we are feeling intense shame, we get yanked out this window of tolerance.  
      5. Hyperarousal -- this is where our sympathetic nervous system revs us up, gets into fight or flight mode in response to shame
        1. Heart starts racing
        1. Breathing quickens
        1. Pupils dilate
        1. Blood rushes to arms and legs
        1. Face can flush red 

        1. Get ready to defend ourselves or attack or run away 

      10. Hypoarousal, when the parasympathetic nervous system shuts us down -- freeze response, like a deer in the headlights
        1. We disengage socially
        1. Want to disappear, hide, camouflage ourselves. 

        1. Shut down.  Numb out.  Dissociate
        1. Lowering of the head
        1. Breaking off eye contact
        1. Tightening up of muscles, curling up in a ball (spine) -- hunching to protect vital organs.  Making one's body smaller, less visible
        1. Feeling like ice water in the veins, cold freezing sensation
        1. Fluttering in belly.
      18. These bodily reactions are not under voluntary control.  Ever tried not to blush?  Didn't it just make it worse when you couldn't stop it?  Even though you wanted to play it cool.  you just kept getting redder and redder, which led to a more intense shame response.  

  2. Shame is a signalFunctions of Shame  This often gets missed.  The upside of shame.  Why it exists. 
    1. Shame is a signal that there is a lack of attunement or an even more serious threat in one or more of our important relationships.  It has important function
      1. Shame functions as a "social threat detector" that signals us to modify or avoid behaviors that will cause us to be rejected by those we need.  

      1. Then the shame response to the shame signal occurs.  Shame signal leads to the shame response -- the shame response inhibits emotions, thoughts, sensations, beliefs or behaviors that are perceived as unacceptable to powerful others who we need.
      1. So Shame is a survival mechanism.  It helps save us from potential terrible consequences. Inhibition -- family in church -- lots of little kids, all perfectly dressed, all perfectly behaved, parents beaming in response to getting complements about their little angels, so well behaved.  Parents may have put the fear of God into the children to keep them still.  Inhibitory function of shame -- not wanting to displease God, not wanting to displease the parents who may have parts that are very overinvested in the public impressions their family makes on the parish community.  

  3. Shame as action  -- a verb -- “shaming” is an action that is intended to cause someone else to feel inadequate, worthless, unlovable, a loser, etc.  for being or doing something that the shamer feels is wrong or undesirable.
    1. It is a quick way to control another person, especially one in a dependent positions
    1. It is a quick way for us to control ourselves.  Part of us is forced into the role of shamer to anticipate consequences.  E.g. rambunctious boy on Saturday morning -- hung over mother cussing him out from the top of the stairs to shut up and let her sleep.  
      1. If a part of that body takes on the shaming function and whenever he starts getting boisterous, tells him to shut up and be good and stop being such a noisy pain in the rear end, he can save himself the verbal backlash and maybe even worse from his alcoholic mom.  It's a way of managing an extremely difficult situation. 

  5. Qualities of shame
    1. Shame is hidden.  Hidden from others, hidden from God, often hidden from the therapist, hidden from self.  Hidden in the unconcious, carried by our exiled parts, which are like lepers.  Not allowed into the community for fear of a contagion of shame, shame taking over.  

    1. Disappear, hide, camouflage  

    1.   Shame inhibits positive emotions
  7. How shame is expressed -- going into Behavioral Expressions of Shame
    1. What to look for in yourself and others -- clues that shame is lurking, hidden, even if you don't feel it.  We may need to infer it.  

    1. Therapists particularly need to know this information.  So much shame is missed by therapists -- lots of reasons for that.  

    1. Shame is hard to measure -- the more important a phenomenon is, the harder it is to quantify, to measure.  

    1. 2017 Journal of Child and Family Studies
      1. A New Measure of the Expression of Shame: The Shame Code
      1. Canadian researchers Kalee De France, Dianna Lanteigne, Jenny Glozman & Tom Hollenstein 

    1. shame has predominantly been measured by self-report questionnaires, which typically capture trait shame or shame proneness
      1. unable to capture the experience of shame as it occurs and is observed by others
      1. Shame does not have a canonical facial expression, however, some facial and behavioral expressions that may be indicative of the experience of shame have been identified. 
        1. shrunken or compressed posture that includes body tension, dropped shoulders, or lowered head in a manner akin to a “hang-dog” look 
          1. These submissive displays can be seen as social signals of appeasement, and attempts to reduce social conflict or scrutiny 
          2. they tend to evoke cooperative behavior from others, and are associated with less punitive responses
        2. shame can be identified by tension in the facial muscles
          1. turning down the corners of their mouth -- frowning
          1.  tucking their lower lip between their teeth
          1. pursed lips
        5. smiling while experiencing shame may not appear genuine (i.e., non-Duchenne smile) indicating a false expression of positivity  
          1. the key difference between this “real” happy smile and a “fake” happy smile lies in the orbicularis oculi – muscles that wrap around the eyes. All smiles require a contraction of the zygomatic major muscles, the muscles that lift the corners of the mouth. A real smile, a Duchenne smile adds the eyes.  The skin around the eyes wrinkles into crows' feet by the tightening of the orbicularis oculi muscles.
          2. embarrassed smile, a smile accompanied by gaze aversion, or a nervous smile
          3. another appeasement behavior, where the individual experiencing shame attempts to placate the observer and avoid judgment or punitive behavior. 
        6. gaze aversion or hiding one’s face -- attempt to hide.  
          1. not seeking to contest resources or escalate conflict
        7. Speech Patterns
          1. verbal uncertainty -- hemming, hawing
          1. such as stammering
          1. long pauses
          1. Going silent
        12. tendency to withdraw, such as disengaging from the emotional trigger
        13. Freezing halting behavior or remaining rigidly still
        14. distracting oneself through fidgeting “manipulations of one’s own body parts or objects, such actions being peripheral or non-central to ongoing events or tasks” (Mehravian & Friedman, 2006, p. 406)

  1. Strategies for coping with shame Nathanson (1992, 1997)  Four defensive scripts for avoiding shame:  Attack Self, Attack others, Isolate self, Avoid inner experience
    1. Attack self  -- part of you accepts the mindset of shame, the beliefs --  I am inadequate, I am a loser, stupid, incompetent, fat  --  it's safer to turn the anger and disgust inward.
      1. When you mix anger and disgust you get contempt, which is the most corrosive emotion in relationship, including our relationship with ourselves.  If you want to ruin a relationship, there is nothing better than a contemptuous attitude
      1. In attacking the self, the shame may not be felt at all -- rather it's just assumed that I am worthless, no good, evil  -- not even possible to say "I feel ashamed" -- there is just the attack on the shame-bearing part.  

    1. Attacking others first -- this one is often counterintuitive.  Stay with me here.
      1. This is when one of your protector parts, in order to shield you from your own shame, attacks another person.  You are not the problem -- the other person is.  Anger and disgust are directed away from the self toward blaming and shaming another person in order to salvage your own sense of self-worth.  You externalize the shame, you project it on someone else.  

      1. Wants you to not know about the underlying shame -- and doesn't want anyone else to see your shame either.  

      1. If the other person is feeling the shame, is getting overwhelmed by their own shame, then the shame is there and not in you.  The other person is inferior and you are superior -- the other person has the shame problem not you.  And these shaming parts are driven by shame that they are totally unaware of.  

      1. Lot of marital conflict stems from shame and shaming.  Lots of it.  The primary problem.  

      1. Number one issue in aggressive, pushing people who cut others down -- bullies, intimidators, tough guys, gaslighters, manipulators -- it's a part of a person who is desperately trying to ward off shame.  .  That doesn't make it all right.  That doesn't make it not sinful.

    1. Isolate from others  part of you accepts the message of shame and believes it.  And feels terrible and hides.  No desire to be exposed, to be vulnerable to more ridicule, more shaming.  Just hiding.  Like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, after eating the forbidden fruit.  Lots of anxiety and fear.  See how anxiety and fear are secondary emotions to the shame?  They flow from the shame.  So many problematic emotions have shame at their root, at their core, but shame is so tricky, the other emotions seem to be the problem.  
      1. Avoid social situation
      2. Limit relational interactions
      3. Withdraw
      4. Look at others with dread.  

    1. Avoid inner experiences
      1. Denial
      1. Dissociation -- disconnection
      1. Numbing
      1. Depersonalization or derealization
      1. Attempts to distract self -- TV, movies, alcohol, sex, binge eating, obsessions, hyperactivity, dissociation, manic episodes, incessant humor or joking, changing the subject when the conversation pulls for looking inward, focusing on the other person, excessive caregiving with no self-care, compulsive do-gooding
      1. also spiritual bypassing -- a flight into spiritual practices to avoid dealing with your inner experiences -- lots of litanies and prayer cards and holy hours and lectio divina, but with a driven quality to it, a rigidity, a nearly exclusive outward focus.
      1. Little or no awareness of shame, or shameful actions, reactions, faults or negative characteristics.  

  2. We will get to working with shame -- much more constructively, how do we do that?  It's coming. I will be giving you strategies for working with shame in upcoming podcasts.   Can't rush it.  There's often a strong impulse to rush through working with shame. 
  3. We'll also get into the spiritual impact of shame.  Soulset  For example, if you have a part who feels unloved and unlovable -- how do you think that part would understand God?  Would it see God as loving and caring if it has been shut off from love?  What about your parts that have been shamed by important others and by other parts of you?  How would they see God?  How does your internal critic, you know that voice that has running commentary about your faults and failings, exacerbating shame -- how does that part see God? What God images do these parts have?  How Satan uses your shame against you?  Remember, grace perfects nature, and it makes sense for Satan to attack at the weak points in your natural foundation.  We will get into those issues as well\ as the relationship between shame and pride.  All here at the Coronavirus crisis Carpe Diem podcast, where harmonize the best of psychology with the Truths of our Catholic Faith.
  4. Let others know about this podcast. Who do you know that might be suffering from shame?  Reach out -- send them a link.   Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play.  Get the word out.  Whole series on shame -- going far more in depth than most people every comprehend.  All from a Catholic perspective.  
  5. Bonus Podcast on Sex difference in shame.  This is getting long.  How are men and women different.  That is available to our Resilient Catholic Carpe Diem community.  
  6. RCCD community:  Example past Zoom meeting  October 14
    1. a guided meditation to help you locate a part of you that feels unloved and unlovable and to reach out with care and gentleness to that part -- how to work with parts that carry the burden of shame.  -- Very positive response to that experience, RCCD members really getting in touch with parts that feel unlovable and carry the burden of shame.  It's not that hard for many people to reach out to these parts of themselves and really be with them.  Seek and ye shall find.  

    1.  recorded the introduction and the meditation sections of this so RCCD community members can do it on their own.
    1. Building a whole library of different exercises and techniques to help you. 

    1. Example: Office hours -- we will be discussing shame in zoom office hours on October 21 from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM Eastern -- free for RCCD members.  Going in to the concepts of this podcast.  Lively Q&A.   Place to get questions answered -- but we won't be getting into any individual issues there.
    2. $25 per month
    3. Temporarily halting admission to the RCCD community November 3 – less than a month away  -- won't reopen until sometime next year, in 2021 lock in prices for all of 2021.  
    4. Go to, click on the tab that says all courses and shows and register for the Resilient Catholics Carpe Diem Community.  
  8. Pray for me.  I will pray for you.
  9. Patroness and Patron

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Resilient Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation. We look for God's providence in all that happens to us, in accord with Romans 8:28, grounded in an authentic Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also join our online community around this podcast at