Healing the Shame that Binds You

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Health Communications, 1988 - Self-Help - 245 pages
5 Reviews
In an emotionally revealing way John Bradshaw shows us how toxic shame is the core problem in our compulsions,co-dependencies, addictions and the drive to super-achieve. The result is a breakdown inthe family system and our inability to go forward with our lives. We are bound by our shame.

Drawing from his 22 years of experience as a counselor, Bradshaw offers us the techniques to heal this shame. Using affirmations, visualizations, "inner voice" and "feeling" work plus guided meditations and other useful healing techniques, he realeases the shame that binds us to thepast.

This important book breaks new ground in the core issues of societal and personal breakdown, offering techniques of recovery vital to all of us.

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In Healing the Shame that Binds You, John Bradshaw offers a thorough and sensitive look at the causes and long-term effects of toxic shame. Unfortunately, the “Recovery Classics Edition” published in 2005 by Health Communications, Inc. severely suffers from poor editing. Among the strengths of this book, is Bradshaw’s integration of his Christian spirituality with this material. He does this in a way that never implies Christianity is the only—or even the best—way to develop a relationship with a higher power. I was very impressed that he took time to explain to his readers why he is a Christian.[1] While I noticed no mention Buddhism, I was intrigued by the similarities—even in wording—between Bradshaw’s thoughts and the work of Zen mater Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s difficult for me to believe that the original edition was published without much of the material in Part 3.[2] While the first two parts of the book, effectively address the roots of shame and the dynamics of recovery, it is in Part 3 that Bradshaw really gets to the work of healing addressed in the book’s title. As a person wounded by a rigid judgmental moralizing faction of the church I greatly appreciate Bradshaw’s treatment of toxic shame generated and/or reinforced by religion. As a person pursuing a theological degree and active in the church (now as part of an emotionally healthy congregation), I also appreciate the sensitivity with which it is treated. Though Bradshaw does not exonerate the wound-ers because of their pain, he clearly shows they are wounded. Likewise he delicately portrays the abandonment trauma that may be inflicted unknowingly by well-intentioned, loving parents and caregivers, as well as the confusion that can ensue when one leaves ones rigidly prescribed role in a shame-based system. The most noticeable weaknesses result from the publisher’s negligent editing. As a result, the book is oftentimes difficult to read. By far, the biggest issue for readability, occurring throughout the book, is with typesetting for headings. There is no differentiation between main headings and what should be distinguishable as sub-headings.[3] For a reader who does not realize that the main heading has changed, the result is a kind of topical whiplash. The complete absence of an index is almost unbelievable. Combined with the sparse table of contents, this would make the book nearly impossible to use a reference were a full concordance not available at the online retailer Amazon.com. Occasionally difficulties in the books readability are due to Bradshaw’s writing style. In the first half of the book, Bradshaw’s transitions between theory and personal experience tend to be blurry. I was also frustrated by the lengthy and repetitious back references in the first half of the book (particularly to material on “false self”) which often using exactly the same wording as before. Once again, this is a likely problem with the publisher as an attentive editing process would have recognized and addressed such problems. Overall, Healing the Shame that Binds You is a worthwhile resource containing valuable information, and it is unfortunate that it suffers in the areas of readability and usability. If this book and Jane Middelton-Moz’s sometimes-unintelligible Shame & Guilt: Masters of Disguise constitute a representative sample, Health Communications, Inc. should seriously reconsider their sub-standard editorial practices.[4] [1] p.294. [2] p.xv [3] See Bradshaw’s discussion of “Primary Ego Defenses” pp.102-10. [4] Jane Middelton-Moz, Shame & Guilt: Masters of Disguise (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1990). 

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User Review  - Elise Toedt - Goodreads

The appeal of this genre is it's practicality; the ability it gives readers for self therapy. I definitely appreciated how this came out in the last half of this book, particularly in the discussions ... Read full review

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About the author (1988)

John Elliot Bradshaw was born in Houston, Texas on June 29, 1933. He received a bachelor's degree in sacred theology and a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto. He taught at the University of St. Thomas for a year. In 1964, just days before he was to be ordained, he left the Basilian Order. He eventually checked himself into an alcohol-treatment program at a state hospital in Austin. On being released, he returned to Houston and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily for the next three years. He soon began teaching adult Sunday school classes at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church and working with addicts in the church's drug-abuse program. He also appeared on local television as the host of a talk show entitled Spotlight and found himself in demand as a lecturer on family psychology. In the early 1980s, he did a television series on the psychologist Erik Erikson's eight stages of man, which was broadcast on PBS. He also created a 10-part series entitled Bradshaw On: The Family, which also aired on PBS. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including Bradshaw On: The Family, Bradshaw On: Healing the Shame That Binds You, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Creating Love, Family Secrets: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, and Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Over. Many of his books were turned into PBS specials. He died of heart failure on May 8, 2016 at the age of 82.

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