Interior Integration for Catholics

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Dr. Peter discusses the silent killer that makes vulnerability seem so dangerous: Shame.

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.  
a.       Thank you for being here with me.  This is episode 37, released on October 12, 2020 
b.      and it is titled: The Silent Killer Who Stalks You From Inside.  
2.      I want to talk with you about the silent killer, the worst adversary I face clinically, the greatest rival, the greatest opponent to love and life that I have ever met within another person or within myself. 
3.      This one is a very stealthy, effective, ruthless killer -- often hidden beneath the surface of our consciousness, in the murky waters deep below where we can see.  But then at times it surfaces, Powerful, moving.  And maybe you think I'm being dramatic -- but I'm not.  I've seen it kill other and I've been seriously wounded by it myself.     
a.       Killer on the natural level and also on the spiritual level.  This assassin slays not only hearts, minds and bodies but also souls.  A very comprehensive murderer, very complete, this hitman does his work often slowly but very thoroughly.  
b.      Who is this killer?  High blood pressure?  No.  Stroke?  No.  Heart disease?  No.  Diabetes?  No.  Cancer? No.  These can and do kill bodies, but as serious as they are, they are nowhere near as deadly to most people as our silent killer.  
c.       Who is this killer?  The devil you say?  Satan?  No.  Not Satan.  Satan cherishes this killer, and prizes the stealthy sneaking, clandestine work.
d.      No, it's not Satan because this killer lives within us in a way that demons ordinarily do not.  This killer has a pass to roam within us, to move in our being.  Satan doesn't, unless we are possessed.  Besides, Satan does not have permission to slay us, or to harm us unless God permits it, at least with His passive will, and only then for our greater good.  
e.       This killer seems meek and modest, but when it whispers its messages in our ear, it evokes in us fear, anxiety, depression, and efforts to do more and more, and it can also provoke us to anger, aggression, and violence.  Unchecked, this killer can bring us all the way to helpless, despair and suicide.  
f.        Some of us try to numb ourselves to distract ourselves from this killer by using alcohol, drugs, food, binging on Netflix, hours of social media, masturbation, porn, shopping, compulsive exercise, gambling, surfing the web, video games, sleeping the day away, dissociating and even cutting and burning our bodies, all in an attempt to escape.
g.      Who is this killer?  It is absolutely vital for us to know -- is it guilt -- no.  Depression -- no, Anxiety, Fear, Anger -- no, no, no.  Is it pride?  No, not pride.  But this killer has a close and intimate relationship with pride.  The killer feeds pride and is nourished by pride.  Who is it?  Take a moment and really think about it.  We need to know this killer, this adversary.  And we will.  Today we will be getting to know this silent killer.  But not yet.  We've got to look beyond the killer for a moment.  
4.      There is one thing that disarms this killer.  One thing.  And that one thing is Love.  Real authentic Love.  Charity.   Love rescues us from this killer.  It transforms us, makes us immune to the silent killer who no longer has power over us.  So let's talk about love.  
5.      Shifting gears.  Two great commandments -- 
a.       Matthew 22:35-40    And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
b.      Main task is to love God and love our neighbor.  With all of ourselves.  All your heart, all your mind, all your soul.  All of us.  
c.       And we need to love our neighbor as ourself.  Think about that.  Love our neighbor as ourselves. 
                                                                                i.            Jesus doesn't say we need to love our neighbor more than ourselves -- it could be implied, but I wonder about whether that's possible.  
d.      So that means we need to be loved
                                                                                i.            Reflecting on last week's episode --  Why we flee from real love.  the capacity to receive love -- 
                                                                              ii.             We discussed fear, avoidance, anger 
                                                                            iii.            We went into how real love burns, it requires us to give up dysfunctional coping mechanisms
                                                                            iv.            It can require us to give up good things that are lesser than love.  
                                                                              v.            We discussed require us to be open, receptive and thus also vulnerable 
                                                                            vi.            But we didn't discuss what or who causes our vulnerability to seem so dangerous to us.  Who does that?   That is the silent killer rearing its ugly head again.  It's our silent killer makes the vulnerability seem so perilous, so potentially catastrophic for us.  
e.       We need to be loved in order to pass that love on
                                                                                i.            Last episode Nemo dat quod non habet  -- No one gives what they don’t have.   Nemo dat rule. 
                                                                              ii.            To reflect that love back to God
                                                                            iii.            To be a channel of love to others
                                                                            iv.            And to love ourselves in an ordered way
6.      So ultimately, what I want is for you to be able to love God so much better and to love your neighbor so much better
a.       So we will do a whole series of episode on loving God and another whole series of loving our neighbor
                                                                                i.            Focusing on the psychological aspects that can make this much more difficult than it needs to be
                                                                              ii.            Souls and Hearts -- Grace perfects nature.  
7.      But we need to start with receiving love better
a.       So first, we will do a whole series of episodes on receiving love.
                                                                                i.            From God our Father
                                                                              ii.            From Mary our Mother
                                                                            iii.            From Jesus and the Holy Spirit
                                                                            iv.            From the Saints
                                                                              v.            From ourselves
                                                                            vi.            And from others
8.      And to kick that series off loving ourselves better, we need to know what are the obstacles, especially the psychological obstacles to receiving love.   We need to know what stands in the way, what are the hurdles, what makes it difficult for us to receive love.  
a.       And that brings us back, face to face with our silent killer.  And now it's time to name the killer.
9.      The silent killer, the worst adversary I face clinically, the greatest rival, the greatest opponent to love and life that I have ever met within another person or within myself is [drum roll]  Shame.  S-H-A-M-E.  Shame.  
10.  So what is shame.  How do we define it.  
a.       English has real limitations, a significantly restricted vocabulary when it comes to expressing the nuances of internal experience.  It's really important to get this straight.  
b.      Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston -- really done a great job of bringing the topics of shame and vulnerability into the public square for discussion
                                                                                i.            Her definition of shame:  I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we've experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection
                                                                              ii.            Great start and better than most definitions out there.  But still incomplete.  Brene Brown is primarily a researcher, though she is a licensed master social worker and has clinical experience.   I approach this as a trauma therapist who really specializes in shame work.   
c.       Shame is:  a primary emotion, a bodily reaction, a signal,  a judgement, and an action.  
d.      Drawing heavily from Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation -- A practical, integrative Approach by Kathy Steele, Suzette Boon, and Otto van Der Hart.  Experts in complex trauma, with a real focus on the disconnects that happen within the person who has experienced trauma.  
                                                                                i.            Those disconnects, when severe enough, become dissociation
                                                                              ii.            Those disconnects are, by definition, a lack of integration.  
e.       Shame is a primary emotion -- heartset
                                                                                i.            Primary emotions are those that we feel first, as a first response to a situation. They are unthinking, instinctive, automatic emotions that we have. Under threat, we feel fear.  We don't have to think about it.  We see a Bear in our campsite. Hmm  Bear.  Big teeth.  Looks feriocious. It's coming at us.  Ok, it's time to be scared.  
                                                                              ii.            Emotional response to 
1.      a real or perceived abandonment
2.      Rejection
3.      The loss of relationship -- a relationship we sense (rightly or wrongly) that we need to survive
f.        Shame as a bodily reaction -- physiology of shame  Bodyset
                                                                                i.            Defenses against shame are immediate, unmediated by our higher-order thought processes
1.      The intellect does not have time to reflects
2.      The automatic nature of the defenses against shame compromises the will's effectiveness in the moment.  
                                                                              ii.            Takes us out of the window of tolerance
1.      Window of tolerance the zone of arousal in which a person is able to function most effectively. When people are within this zone, they are typically able to readily take in information, process that information, and integrate that information more readily.  People in the window of tolerance are feeling emotions at moderate levels, not overwhelmed with emotion and not numbing their feelings out.  People in the window of tolerance respond to the demands of everyday life without much difficulty -- they can make pretty good decisions, carry out their role responsibilities, do what they need to do.  
2.      Stressful cortisol levels go up, and our ACTH levels rise, indicating a stress response.
3.      Hyperarousal -- this is where our sympathetic nervous system revs us up, gets into fight or flight mode in response to shame
a.       Heart starts racing
b.      Breathing quickens
c.       Pupils dilate
d.      Blood rushes to arms and legs
e.       Face can flush red 
f.        Get ready to defend ourselves or attack or run away 
4.      Hypoarousal, when the parasympathetic nervous system shuts us down -- freeze response, like a deer in the headlights
a.       We disengage socially
b.      Want to disappear, hide, camouflage ourselves. 
c.       Shut down.  Numb out.  Dissociate
d.      Lowering of the head
e.       Breaking off eye contact
f.        Tightening up of muscles, curling up in a ball (spine) -- hunching to protect vital organs.  Making one's body smaller, less visible
g.      Feeling like ice water in the veins, cold freezing sensation
h.      Fluttering in belly.
g.      Functions of Shame  This often gets missed.  The upside of shame.  Why it exists. 
                                                                                i.            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
                                                                              ii.            Shame inhibits other emotions, thoughts, sensations, beliefs or behaviors that are perceived as unacceptable to powerful others who we need.
1.      Steele Boone and van der Hart refer to it as a "social threat detector" that alerts us to modify or avoid behaviors that will cause us to be rejected by those we need.  They see this as part of social evolution.   
2.      Shame helps us learn the boundaries of socially acceptable behavior so that we can be part of our group, with the optimal level of closeness and distance.  
a.       By 12 to 18 months or so, toddlers show signs of shame in response to misattunement or disapproval.  Mommy and Daddy's reactions help guide the child through developmental milestone and avoiding shame is a part of that.  
3.      Shame is a survival mechanism.  It helps save us from potential terrible consequences -- example of abuse.  Inhibiting of crying -- I'll give you something to cry about.  Freezing, staying still not crying.  
4.       Some shame needs to be accepted.  The only ones who don’t seem to experience shame at all are psychopaths -- sociopaths.  Think of it -- someone who is shameless -- that's hardly a compliment.  
8.      Shame as a judgment  -- mindset
a.       A judgement about who we really are from the perpective of a critical, rejecting other.  
                                                                                                  i.            We look at ourselves through the eyes of critical, angry or disappointed other, often a parent or other caregiver.  
b.      But we have internalized it.  We've take it inside.  Now we are doing it to ourselves.  
c.       We repeat messages we've picked up from important others:
                                                                                                  i.            Nobody cares about you.  
                                                                                                ii.            You're a loser
                                                                                              iii.            You can't do anything right
                                                                                              iv.            You should never have been born. 
d.      May no longer the case, no longer accurate.  Anachronistic, no longer applies.  No longer in second grade.  
9.      Chronic shame needs to be attenuated, reduced, titrated, ordered, regulated. 
a.       Chronic shame develops when the child has a sense of being rejected, unwanted, a burden.  
b.      When the child changes behaviors, does what he can to be better in the eyes of the adult and still is rejected, he can conclude that he just is a bad person.  
c.       The difficulty is in the response of the others -- the caregivers.  
d.      But the child bears the burden of shame caused by the shaming of the caregivers.  
e.       Child sees parts that are unacknowledged and unacceptable
f.        Ostracized or invaded.  
10.  And we assume that God is like our caregivers -- soulset.  
11.  Shame as action  -- “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 originator feels is wrong or undesirable.
a.       It is a quick way to control another person, especially one in a dependent positions
b.      Little children will do almost anything to preserve their attachments to their parents
c.       Teachers, coaches, instructors -- huge powers
d.      Also romantic partners are motivated my shame -- seems to protect from the loss of relationship.  
12.  Qualities of shame
a.       Shame is hidden.  Hidden from others, hidden from God, often hidden from the therapist, hidden from self.  
b.        Shame inhibits positive emotions
13.  Strategies for coping with shame
a.       Nathanson (1992, 1997)  Four defensive scripts for avoiding shame:
                                                                                                  i.            Attack self
                                                                                                ii.            Attacking others first -- preemptive.  Sarcasm, cutting humor, 
                                                                                              iii.            Isolate from others
                                                                                              iv.            Avoid inner experiences
1.      Controlling-caregiving -- viewing others as more deserving, as more in need.  Denying my own needs by extending myself to serve others, but it's not out of charity -- it’s a defense, a way of running away from my own shame, keeping just ahead of my shame shadow.  
11.  Brief review  Shame is:  a primary emotion, a bodily reaction, a signal, a judgment, and an action.  There's not a simple definition.  
12.  Enough for today.  We will get more into shame and how to work with it in the next several episodes.  So much more to unpack.  This was conceptually heavy -- lots to understand.  
13.  Lucy had a comment.
14.  Great stories of how this podcast is changing lives.  I want your stories -- stories of how the podcast has impacted you -- send them to me., PM me in the community.  Let me know if I can use them on the air.  Your story can help other people.  Cell is 317.567.9594.  
15.  RCCD community:  I want to tell you about the Resilient Catholics: Carpe Diem! Community.  
a.       The RCCD community brings together people who are really interested in growing more and more resilient, both in the natural realm and in the psychological realm,
b.      Catholics who are seizing this day, this moment,  as an opportunity for great spiritual and psychological growth.  
c.       We are bringing in IFS concepts and guidance on working with your parts in your system, to help you become more self-aware, to better love God, others, and yourself.  
d.      Example Upcoming Zoom meeting
                                                                                i.            Join me for 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.  
                                                                              ii.            When is it?  Wednesday, October 14  7:30-8:45 PM Eastern time.  Two days from release
                                                                            iii.            We will record the introduction and the meditation sections of this so RCCD community members can do it on their own.
                                                                            iv.            Building a whole library of different exercises and techniques to help you. 
e.       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.
f.        $25 per month
g.      closing November 3 – less than a month away  -- won't reopen until sometime next year, in 2021 lock in prices for all of 2021.
h.      Go to, click on the tab that says all courses and shows and register for the Resilient Catholics Carpe Diem Community.  
16.  Shout out to Catholic therapists and counselors
a.       Are you seeking
                                                                                i.            Greater insight into yourself as a clinician and better self-care? 
                                                                              ii.            New therapeutic skills to help your clients help themselves?
                                                                            iii.            Deep, personal connections within a small group of other Catholic therapists who understand the unique demands of our lives?
                                                                            iv.            Guidance on how to work with your clients' parts in therapy or counseling -- I have an answer and a possibility for you.  
b.      I am leading Catholic Internal Family Systems consultation groups
                                                                                i.            Get together every month for 90 minutes via Zoom in groups of 8.  
                                                                              ii.            Experience IFS techniques through a variety of exercises that I will lead -- demonstrations.
                                                                            iii.            Practice IFS techniques, working on our own real issues as a therapist within our own internal systems, in the holding environment of the group
                                                                            iv.            Participate in some interpersonal processing, based on an IFS understanding of parts and self, recast in accordance with our Catholic faith
                                                                              v.            Amazing response   29 of 32 slots are filled, but there are 3 left
1.      Two for the Second Wednesday of the month, starting October 14 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern time -- gotta move quick on this.  
2.      One slot for the Fourth Wednesday of the month, starting October 28 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern time
                                                                            vi.            Check out [insert website link]
17.  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