Famous Quotes & Sayings

John Bradshaw Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by John Bradshaw.

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The agony of this chronic stage of being cannot be endured for long. At the deepest level, toxic shame triggers our basic automatic defensive cover-ups. Freud called these automatic cover-ups our primary ego defenses. Once these defenses are in place they function automatically and unconsciously, sending our true and authentic selves into hiding. We develop a false identity out of this basic core. We become master impersonators. We avoid our core agony and pain and over a period of years, we avoid our avoidance. — John Bradshaw

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High school is the time of puberty. And puberty is a time of intense exposure and vulnerability. Whatever toxic shame a person carries from childhood will be tested in high school. Often teenage groups look for a scapegoat, someone everyone can dump and project their shame onto. This was Arnold's fate. He was viciously shamed by his female peer group. This accounted for his problem with women. — John Bradshaw

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Unfortunately, accomplishments do not reduce internalized shame. In fact, the more one achieves, the more one has to achieve. Toxic shame is about being; no amount of doing will ever change it. — John Bradshaw

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It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers - they help us to learn. — John Bradshaw

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There is no way you can share your inner self because you are an object of contempt to yourself. When you are contemptible to yourself, you are no longer in you. To feel shame is to feel exposed in a diminished way. When you're an object to yourself, you turn your eyes inward, watching and scrutinizing every minute detail of behavior. This internal critical observation is excruciating. It generates a tormenting self-consciousness that Kaufman describes as "creating a binding and paralyzing effect upon the self." This paralyzing internal monitoring causes withdrawal, passivity and inaction. The severed parts of the self are projected in relationships. — John Bradshaw

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Growing up means leaving home and becoming a self supporting adult. I think this the hardest task any human being hast to face. — John Bradshaw

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WHEN GOD IS A DRUG - RELIGIOUS ADDICTION Mood alteration is an ingredient of compulsive/addictive behavior. Addiction has been described as "a pathological relationship to any mood-altering experience that has life-damaging consequences." Toxic shame has been suggested as the core and fuel of all addiction. Religious addiction is rooted in toxic shame, which can be readily mood-altered through various religious behaviors. One can get feelings of righteousness through any form of worship. One can fast, pray, meditate, serve others, go through sacramental rituals, speak in tongues, be slain by the Holy Spirit, quote the Bible, read Bible passages, or say the name of Yahweh or Jesus. Any of these can be a mood-altering experience. If one is toxically shamed, such an experience can be immensely rewarding. The disciples of any religious system can say we are good and others, those not like us, the sinners, are bad. This can be exhilarating to the souls of toxically shamed people. — John Bradshaw

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SHAME-BASED FAMILY RULES Each family system has several categories of rules. There are rules about celebrating and socializing, rules about touching and sexuality, rules about sickness and proper health care, rules about vacations and vocations, rules about household maintenance and the spending of money. Perhaps the most important rules are about feelings, interpersonal communication and parenting. Toxic shame is consciously transferred by means of shaming rules. In shame-based families, the rules consciously shame all the members. Generally, however, the children receive the major brunt of the shame. Power is a cover-up for shame. Power is frequently hierarchical. — John Bradshaw

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There is also enmeshment and boundary confusion between the daughter and mother. The daughter is often carrying the mother's repressed anger and sadness about the father. This feels overwhelming since these are deeply repressed emotions. Therefore, to starve and avoid eating is a protection against feeling these overwhelming emotions. — John Bradshaw

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Toxic shame, the shame that binds us, is experienced as the all-pervasive sense that "I am flawed and defective as a human being." Toxic shame is no longer an emotion that signals our limits; it is a state of being, a core identity. Toxic shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing and falling short as a human being. Toxic shame is a rupture of the self with the self. It is like internal bleeding - exposure to oneself lies at the heart of toxic shame. A shame-based person will guard against exposing his inner self to others, but more significantly, he will guard against exposing himself to himself. Toxic shame is so excruciating because it is the painful exposure of the perceived failure of self to the self. In toxic shame the self becomes an object of its own contempt, an object that can't be trusted. As an object that can't be trusted, one experiences oneself as untrustworthy. — John Bradshaw

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In a sense, all of my books have been about a 'poisonous pedagogy,' which engenders a culture of obedience, this underlying theme of patriarchal systems. — John Bradshaw

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Shame is internalized when one is abandoned. Abandonment is the precise term to describe how one loses one's authentic self and ceases to exist psychologically. — John Bradshaw

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An immature parent with unresolved issues and repressed shame can also transfer his or her shame to us. This interpersonal transference of shame is referred to as induced shame. — John Bradshaw

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The fantasy bond (really bondage) is the illusion that someone is there for them, someone who loves and protects them. The fantasy bond is like a mirage in the desert. Once set up, the denying fantasy bond functions automatically and unconsciously. Years later, when reality is no longer life-threatening, the fantasy bond remains. This explains why abandoned (abused) children are described as having a compulsion to protect their parents. — John Bradshaw

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Darwin knew that the mother of the blush was shame. For Darwin, shame defines our essential humanity. Silvan Tomkins views shame as an innate feeling that limits our experience of interest, curiosity and pleasure. — John Bradshaw

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Alice Miller has summed up these rules under the title "Poisonous Pedagogy" in her book For Your Own Good. These rules state: 1. Adults are the masters of the dependent child. 2. They determine in godlike fashion what is right and what is wrong. 3. The child is held responsible for the parents' anger. 4. The parents must always be shielded. 5. The child's life-affirming feelings pose a threat to the autocratic adult. 6. The child's will must be "broken" as soon as possible. 7. All this must happen at a very early age so that the child "won't notice" and will therefore not be able to expose the adult. — John Bradshaw

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The major problem in our lives is to decide and clarify our responsibilities. To truly be committed to a life of honesty, love and discipline, we must be willing to commit ourselves to reality. This commitment, according to Peck, "requires the willingness and the capacity to suffer continual self-examination." Such an ability requires a good relationship with oneself. This is precisely what no shame-based person has. In fact, a toxically shamed person has an adversarial relationship with himself. Toxic shame - the shame that binds us - is a core part of neurotic and character disordered syndromes of behavior. — John Bradshaw

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DENIAL OF EMOTIONS
Our culture does not handle emotions well. We like folks to be happy and fine. We learn rituals of acting happy and fine at an early age. I can remember many times telling people "I'm fine" when I felt like the world was caving in on me. I often think of Senator Muskie who cried on the campaign trail when running for president. From that moment on he was history. We don't want a president who has emotions. We would rather have one that can act! Emotions are certainly not acceptable in the workplace. True expression of any emotions that are not "positive" are met with disdain. — John Bradshaw

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Toxically shamed people tend to become more and more stagnant as life goes on. They live in a guarded, secretive and defensive way. They try to be more than human (perfect and controlling) or less than human (losing interest in life or stagnated in some addictive behavior). — John Bradshaw

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Many self-help books give you these neat, tidy formulas that are really illusions. They dupe people into thinking, 'Well if I can just do that, then everything's going to be okay.' My work differs in that I don't offer quick solutions and simple explanations. — John Bradshaw

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The spiritual quest is not some added benefit to our life, something you embark on if you have the time and inclination. We are spiritual beings on an earthly journey. Our spirituality makes up our beingness. — John Bradshaw

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My group ridiculed and made fun of anyone who was not like us, and that comprised almost everyone! People with negative identity drop out and stand on the sidelines of life, making fun of everyone else. In actuality I was terrified of life. — John Bradshaw

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The disowned part of self is an energy - an emotion or desire or need, that has been shamed every time it emerged. These energy patterns are repressed but not destroyed. They are alive in our unconscious. — John Bradshaw

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Where are you, Adam? According to the book of Genesis, Adam went into hiding after the fall. By trying to be more than human, Adam felt less than human. Before the fall, Adam was not ashamed; after the fall he was. Toxic shame is true agony. It is a pain felt from the inside, in the core of our being. It is excruciatingly painful. — John Bradshaw

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SOCIETY AS COMPULSIVE AND ADDICTED Our society is highly addictive. We have sixty million sexual abuse victims. Possibly seventy-five million lives are seriously affected by alcoholism, with no telling how many more through other drugs. We have no idea of the actual impact on our economy of the billions of tax-free dollars that come from the illegal drug trade. Over fifteen million families are violent. Some 60 percent of women and 50 percent of men have eating disorders. We have no actual data on work addiction or sexual addictions. I saw a recent quotation that cited thirteen million gambling addicts. If toxic shame is the fuel of addiction, we have a massive problem of shame in our society. — John Bradshaw

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Mood alteration is an ingredient of compulsive/addictive behavior. Addiction has been described as "a pathological relationship to any mood-altering experience that has life-damaging consequences." Toxic shame has been suggested as the core and fuel of all addiction. Religious addiction is rooted in toxic shame, which can be readily mood-altered through various religious behaviors. One can get feelings of righteousness through any form of worship. One can fast, pray, meditate, serve others, go through sacramental rituals, speak in tongues, be slain by the Holy Spirit, quote the Bible, read Bible passages, or say the name of Yahweh or Jesus. Any of these can be a mood-altering experience. If one is toxically shamed, such an experience can be immensely rewarding. — John Bradshaw

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True love heals and affects spiritual growth. If we do not grow because of someone else's love, it's generally because it is a counterfeit form of love. — John Bradshaw

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It's essential to tell the truth at all times. This will reduce life's pain. Lying distorts reality. All forms of distorted thinking must be corrected. — John Bradshaw

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To develop strong ego boundaries, children need parents with strong boundaries. No shame-based parent has these. Toxic shame greatly damages our boundaries. Without strong boundaries for protection, a child cannot thrive. Having damaged boundaries is like living in a house without locks on the doors. — John Bradshaw

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You can find more traditional Shakespeare than we do. But what we want to bring to these works is energy, passion, freshness. — John Bradshaw

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That's the trouble with the conventional doctors. They always say, 'How does it work?' but often there isn't any neat little answer ... Something simply works ... We don't really know how it works. We say we do. We know one or two things we can see and measure ... — John Bradshaw

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Many religious denominations teach the concept of man as wretched and stained with original sin. Original sin as taught by some religious bodies means you are bad from the moment you are born. The teaching of original sin accounts for a lot of the child-rearing practices that are geared toward breaking a child's unruly will and natural propensity toward evil. — John Bradshaw

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Children are natural Zen masters; their world is brand new in each and every moment. — John Bradshaw

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I have never met an aggressive person who wasn't a fearful person. — John Bradshaw

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Sam Keen points out that Zen masters spend years to reach an enlightenment that every natural child already knows - the total incarnation of sleeping when you're tired and eating when you're hungry. What irony that this state of Zen-like bliss is programmatically and systematically destroyed. — John Bradshaw

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Science has so far been unable to tell us how self-aware dogs are, much less whether they have anything like our conscious thoughts. This is not surprising, since neither scientists nor philosophers can agree about what the consciousness of humans consists of, let alone that of animals. — John Bradshaw

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Dissmell is the affect that monitors our drive for hunger. It was primarily developed as a survival mechanism. As we've become more complex, its use has extended interpersonally. Prejudice and rage against strangers (the ones who are not like us) have terrible consequences. Dissmell is a major sexuality factor. Disgust follows the same pattern as dissmell. Originally a hunger drive auxiliary, it has been extended to interpersonal relations. Divorces are often dominated by disgust. Victims of abuse carry various degrees of anger and disgust. Rapists who kill operate on disgust, anger and sex fused together. — John Bradshaw

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SHAME-BASED FAMILIES AND MULTIGENERATIONAL ILLNESS One of the devastating aspects of toxic shame is that it is multigenerational. The secret and hidden aspects of toxic shame form the wellsprings of its multigenerational life. Since it is kept hidden, it cannot be worked out. Families are as sick as their toxic shame secrets. — John Bradshaw

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Our healthy shame is essential as the foundation of our spirituality. By reminding us of our essential limitations, our healthy shame lets us know that we are not God. Our healthy shame points us in the direction of some larger meaning. Our healthy shame is the psychological ground of our humility. — John Bradshaw

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Children aren't fooled. They know we give time to the things we love. — John Bradshaw

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The most paradoxical aspect of neurotic shame is that it is the core motivator of the superachieved and the underachieved, the star and the scapegoat, the righteous and the wretched, the powerful and the pathetic. — John Bradshaw

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Children need their parents' time and attention. Giving one's time is part of the work of love. It means being there for the child, attending to the child's needs rather than the parent's needs. — John Bradshaw

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Healthy shame is an emotion that teaches us about our limits. Like all emotions, shame moves us to get our basic needs met. — John Bradshaw

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Operant conditioning is not confined to deliberate training; it is one way that cats learn how to deal with whatever surroundings they find themselves in. Cats have not (yet) evolved to live in apartments; their instinctive behavior is still tuned to hunting in the open air. — John Bradshaw

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EMOTIONAL SHAME BINDS Our emotions are the core of our basic power. Two of the major functions they serve in our psychic life are: 1. They monitor our basic needs, telling us of a need, loss or satiation. Without our emotional energy, we would not be aware of our most fundamental needs. 2. They give us the fuel or energy to act. I like to hyphenate the word "emotion." An e-motion is energy in motion. This energy moves us to get what we need. When our basic needs are being violated, our anger moves us to fight or run. — John Bradshaw

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The elementary school years can also be a source of shame. Children can be terribly cruel. Any gay or lesbian child is especially vulnerable to ridicule. A child with developmental deficits, deformities or who is overweight is also an easy target. Children will shame other children the way they've been shamed. And if a child is being shamed at home, he will want to pass the hot potato by shaming others. Children like to tease. And teasing is a major source of shaming. Teasing is often done by shame-based parents, who transfer their shame by teasing their children. Older siblings can deliver some of the cruelest teasing of all. I have been horrified listening to clients' accounts of being teased by older siblings. — John Bradshaw

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EMOTIONAL ABANDONMENT AND NARCISSISTIC DEPRIVATION Children need mirroring and echoing. These come from their primary caregiver's eyes. Mirroring means that someone is there for them and reflects who they really are at any given moment of time. In the first three years of our life each of us needed to be admired and taken seriously. We needed to be accepted for the very one we are. Having these mirroring needs met results in what Alice Miller calls our basic narcissistic supplies. These supplies result from good mirroring by a parent with good boundaries. When this is the case, as Miller states in The Drama of the Gifted Child, the following dynamics take place: 1. The child's aggressive impulses can be neutralized because they do not threaten the parent. 2. The child's striving for autonomy is not experienced as a threat to the parent. — John Bradshaw

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There are plenty of quacks in the field. Fewer than you'd expect, though still plenty (in alternative medicine). — John Bradshaw

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If our primary caregivers are shame-based, they will act shameless and pass their toxic shame onto us. There is no way to teach self-value if one does not value oneself. Toxic shame is multigenerational. It is passed from one generation to the next. Shame-based people find other shame-based people and get married. As each member of a couple carries the shame from his or her own family system, their marriage will be grounded in their shame-core. The major outcome of this will be a lack of intimacy. It's difficult to let someone get close to you if you feel defective and flawed as a human being. Shame-based couples maintain nonintimacy through poor communication, nonproductive circular fighting, games, manipulation, vying for control, withdrawal, blaming and confluence. Confluence is the agreement never to disagree. Confluence creates pseudointimacy. — John Bradshaw

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The cycle begins with the false belief system shared by all addicts: that no one could want them or love them as they are. In fact, addicts can't love themselves. They are an object of scorn to themselves. This deep internalized shame gives rise to distorted thinking. The distorted thinking can be reduced to the belief, "I'll be okay if I drink, eat, have sex, get more money, work harder, etc." The shame turns one into what Kellogg has termed a "human doing," rather than a human being. Worth is measured on the outside, never on the inside. The mental obsession about the specific addictive relationship is the first mood alteration, since thinking takes us out of our emotions. — John Bradshaw

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It is a mark of soulfulness to be present in the here and now. When we are present, we are not fabricating inner movies. We are seeing what is before us. — John Bradshaw

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Our beliefs create the kind of world we believe in. We project our feelings, thoughts and attitudes onto the world. I can create a different world by changing my belief about the world. Our inner state creates the outer and not vice versa. — John Bradshaw

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PERFECTIONISM Perfectionism is a family system rule and a core culprit in creating toxic shame. We see it also in both the religious and cultural systems. Perfectionism denies healthy shame. It does so by assuming we can be perfect. Such an assumption denies our human finitude because it denies the fact that we are essentially limited. Perfectionism denies that we will often make mistakes — John Bradshaw

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The foundation for our self-image is grounded in the first three years of life. It comes from our major caretaker's mirroring. — John Bradshaw

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In 'Reclaiming Virtue,' I argue that we have had an element missing in moral education. That element is 'affect.' Affect is simply the technical word for feeling or emotion. — John Bradshaw

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Another dynamic aspect of the sexual conversion of basic needs is the pleasure of sexual orgasm itself. When one is shamed through abandonment, the pain is deep and profound. One feels worthless; one feels painfully diminished and exposed. When one experiences sexual stimulation and climax, one has available an all-encompassing and powerful pleasure. This pleasure can take the place of any other need. In a poignant passage, Kaufman sums up the process of converting all needs into sexuality. He writes: A young boy who learns never to need anything emotionally from his parents is ... faced with a dilemma whenever he feels young, needy or otherwise insecure. If masturbating has been his principle source of good feeling ... he may resort to masturbation in order to restore good feelings about self at times when he is experiencing needs quite unrelated to sexuality. — John Bradshaw

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All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble. — John Bradshaw

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When I walked out of the seminary, I was 31, but I was like a scared, frightened kid. I had no place to live, no license, no clothes. I was just a lost soul. — John Bradshaw

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Chronically dysfunctioning families are also delusional. Delusion is sincere denial. — John Bradshaw

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Guilt is our morality shame and guards our conscience. It tells us we have transgressed our values. It moves us to take action and change. Shame warns us not to try to be more or less than human. Shame signals our essential limitations. Shame limits our desire for pleasure and our interest and curiosity. We could not really be free without our shame. There is an anonymous saying, "Of all the masks of freedom, discipline (limits) is the hardest to understand." We cannot be truly free without having limits. Joy is the exhilarating energy that emerges when all our needs are being met. We want to sing, run and jump with joy. The energy of joy signals that all is well. — John Bradshaw

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Virtue is an inner strength. It expands your nature. — John Bradshaw

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NEED SHAME BINDS When these needs are neglected, children are given the message that their needs are not important, and they lose a sense of their own personal value. They are not worth someone being there for them. They get the feeling they do not matter. As their needs are chronically rejected, children stop believing they have the right to depend on anyone. These dependency needs rely on the interpersonal bridge and the bond of mutuality for their fulfillment. The interpersonal bridge is broken when one is abandoned through neglect. Since we have no one to depend on, we come to believe that we have no right to depend on anyone. We feel shame when we feel needy. Since these needs are basic needs, i.e., needs we cannot be fully human without, we have to get them met in abortive ways. — John Bradshaw

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In functional families the roles are chosen and are flexible. The members have the choice of giving up the roles. In dysfunctional families the roles are rigid. — John Bradshaw

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Feral cats are remarkably silent compared to domestic cats (except during fighting and courtship, notoriously noisy activities); in particular, such cats rarely meow at one another, whereas the meow is the pet cat's best-known call. The meow is usually directed at people, so rather than being an evolved signal it's more likely to have been shaped by some kind of reward. Cats need to meow because we humans are generally so unobservant. — John Bradshaw

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PARANOID PERSONALITY The paranoid defense is a posture developed to cope with excessive shame. The paranoid person becomes hypervigilant, expecting and waiting for the betrayal and humiliation he knows is coming. The paranoid person interprets innocent events as personally threatening and constantly lives on guard. Harry Stack Sullivan described the paranoid as "feeling hopelessly defective." The sources of the paranoid's own sense of deficiency are found elsewhere. It's as if the inner eyes of shaming, contempt and disdain are projected outward. Wrongdoings, mistakes and other instances of personal failure cannot be owned by the paranoid-type personality. They are disowned and transferred from the inner self to others. — John Bradshaw

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I try to get people thinking, to consider their pasts and presents, ultimately encouraging them and giving them the tools to embrace the work of reshaping their lives. — John Bradshaw

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Children will invest as much energy as is needed to ensure the preservation of family harmony, even if it means sacrificing themselves to do so by developing psychological disorders. - Joel Covitz Emotional Child Abuse — John Bradshaw

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When emotionally abandoned people describe their childhoods, it is always without feeling. Alice Miller writes, They recount their earliest memories without any sympathy for the child they once were. Very often they show disdain and irony, even derision and cynicism. In general, there is a complete absence of real emotional understanding or serious appreciation of their own childhood vicissitudes and no conception of their true need - beyond the need for achievement. The internalization of the original drama has been so complete that the illusion of a good childhood can be maintained. — John Bradshaw

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To be shame-bound means that whenever you feel any feeling, need or drive, you immediately feel ashamed. The dynamic core of your human life is grounded in your feelings, needs and drives. When these are bound by shame, you are shamed to the core. — John Bradshaw

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Hell, in my opinion, is never finding your true self and never living your own life or knowing who you are. — John Bradshaw

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We cannot heal what we cannot feel. — John Bradshaw

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Our schools display an enormous bias in educating the mind rather than the whole person. We place major emphasis on reasoning, logic and math, with almost no concern for emotions, intuition and creativity. Our students become memorizing mimics and dull conformists, rather than exciting and feeling creators. — John Bradshaw

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SHAME AS THE CORE AND FUEL OF ALL ADDICTION Neurotic shame is the root and fuel of all compulsive/addictive behaviors. My general working definition of compulsive/addictive behavior is "a pathological relationship to any mood-altering experience that has life-damaging consequences." The drivenness in any addiction is about the ruptured self, the belief that one is flawed as a person. The content of the addiction, whether it be an ingestive addiction or an activity addiction (such as work, shopping or gambling), is an attempt at an intimate relationship. The workaholic with his work and the alcoholic with his booze are having a love affair. Each one alters the mood to avoid the feeling of loneliness and hurt in the underbelly of shame. Each addictive acting out creates life-damaging consequences that create more shame. — John Bradshaw

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To be severed and alienated within oneself also creates a sense of unreality. One may have an all-pervasive sense of never quite belonging, of being on the outside looking in. The condition of inner alienation and isolation is also pervaded by a low-grade chronic depression. This has to do with the sadness of losing one's authentic self. Perhaps the deepest and most devastating aspect of neurotic shame is the rejection of the self by the self. — John Bradshaw

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Little girls are taught fairy tales that are filled with magic. Cinderella is taught to wait in the kitchen for a guy with the right shoe! Snow White is given the message that if she waits long enough, her prince will come. On a literal level, that story tells women that their destiny depends on waiting for a necrophile (someone who likes to kiss dead people) to stumble through the woods at the right time. Not a pretty picture! — John Bradshaw

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Healthy shame keeps us grounded. It is a yellow light, warning us of our essential limitations. Healthy shame is the basic metaphysical boundary for human beings. It is the emotional energy that signals us that we are not God - that we will make mistakes, that we need help. Healthy shame gives us permission to be human. Healthy shame is part of every human's personal power. It allows us to know our limits, and thus to use our energy more effectively. We have better direction when we know our limits. We do not waste ourselves on goals we cannot reach or on things we cannot change. Healthy shame allows our energy to be integrated rather than diffused. — John Bradshaw

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In my family, as in all dysfunctional families, instead of parents who act as strong and nurturing role models for their children, you get these needy people who use their children. I was the kid who tried to take on the marriage. — John Bradshaw

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The feeling of righteousness is the core mood alteration among religious addicts. Religious addiction is a massive problem in our society. It may be the most pernicious of all addictions because it's so hard for a person to break his delusion and denial. How can anything be wrong with loving God and giving your life for good works and service to mankind? — John Bradshaw

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When children have shame-based parents, they identify with them. This is the first step in the child's internalizing shame because the children carry their parent's shame. ABANDONMENT: THE LEGACY OF BROKEN MUTUALITY Shame is internalized when one is abandoned. Abandonment is the precise term to describe how one loses one's authentic self and ceases to exist psychologically. Children cannot know who they are without reflective mirrors. Mirroring is done by one's primary caregivers and is crucial in the first years of life. Abandonment includes the loss of mirroring. Parents who are shut down emotionally (all shame-based parents) cannot mirror and affirm their children's emotions. — John Bradshaw

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We move from the illusion of certainty, to the certainty of illusion — John Bradshaw

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THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY RULES 1. Control or Chaos. One must be in control of all interactions, feelings and personal behavior at all times - control is the major defense strategy for shame. In the less-than-human shameless marriage, both parents may be cocaine addicts or addicted in other ways. They may be dishonest criminals. The children experience chaos, as well as secrecy rules that guard their family's behavior. 2. Perfectionism or Anomie. Always be right in everything you do. The perfectionist rule always involves an imposed measurement. The fear and avoidance of the negative is the organizing principle of life. The members live according to an externalized image. No one ever measures up. In the less-than-human family, there are no rules - the children have no structure to guide them. — John Bradshaw

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Recovery begins with embracing our pain and taking the risk to share it with others. We do this by joining a group and talking about our pain. — John Bradshaw

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I define a 'good person' as somebody who is fully conscious of their own limitations. They know their strengths, but they also know their 'shadow' - they know their weaknesses. In other words, they understand that there is no good without bad. Good and evil are really one, but we have broken them up in our consciousness. We polarize them. — John Bradshaw

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The job of parents is to model. Modeling includes how to be a man or woman; how to relate intimately to another person; how to acknowledge and express emotions; how to fight fairly; how to have physical, emotional and intellectual boundaries; how to communicate; how to cope and survive life's unending problems; how to be self-disciplined; and how to love oneself and another. Shame-based parents cannot do any of these. They simply don't know how. — John Bradshaw

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Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life. — John Bradshaw

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During school age, the bright, shame-based child will attempt to develop inhuman ego defenses or defending scripts, such as perfectionism, blaming, criticizing, righteousness or being judgmental. The character-disordered try to be more than human. Since being grounded in healthy shame is the permission to be human, the toxically shamed become polarized trying to be more than human or giving up and becoming less than human. — John Bradshaw

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Shame is the root of all addictions. — John Bradshaw

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I believe that this neglected, wounded, inner child of the past is the major source of human misery. — John Bradshaw

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Success is different at different stages of development - from not wetting your pants in infancy, to being well liked in childhood and adolescence, to getting laid in young adulthood, to making money and having prestige in later adulthood, to getting laid in middle age, to being well liked in old age, to not wetting your pants in senility. What's — John Bradshaw

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Love-that which biologists, nervous about being misunderstood call "attachment"-fuels the bond between dog and master or mistress. — John Bradshaw

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All human development, according to Silvan Tompkins, is rooted in affect (feeling) dynamics because affects (feelings) are the primary innate biological motivator of human life. Our anger is the energy that gives us strength. The Incredible Hulk becomes the huge, powerful hulk when he needs the energy and power to take care of others. Our sadness is an energy we discharge in order to heal. As we discharge the energy over the losses relating to our basic needs, we can integrate the shock of those losses and adapt to reality. Sadness is painful. We try to avoid it. Discharging sadness releases the energy involved in our emotional pain. To hold it in is to freeze the pain within us. The therapeutic slogan is that grieving is the "healing feeling." Fear releases an energy that warns us of danger to our basic needs. Fear is an energy leading to our discernment and wisdom. — John Bradshaw

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Giving and receiving unconditional love is the most effective and powerful way to personal wholeness and happiness. — John Bradshaw

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3. The child is allowed to experience and express ordinary impulses, such as jealousy, rage, sexuality and defiance, because the parents have not disowned these feelings in themselves. 4. The child does not have to please the parent and can develop his own needs at his own developmental pace. 5. The child can depend on and use his parents because they are separate from him. 6. The parents' independence and good boundaries allow the child to separate self and object representation. 7. Because the child is allowed to display ambivalent feelings, he can learn to regard himself and the caregiver as "both good and bad," rather than splitting off certain parts as good and certain parts as bad. 8. The beginning of true object love is possible because the parents love the child as a separate object. — John Bradshaw

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Generally speaking, most of our vital, spontaneous, instinctual life gets shamed. Children are shamed for being too rambunctious, for wanting things and for laughing too loud. Much dysfunctional shame occurs at the dinner table. Children are forced to eat when they are not hungry. Sometimes children are forced to eat what they do not find appetizing. Being exiled to the dinner table until the plate is cleaned is not unusual in modern family life. The public humiliation of sitting at the dinner table all alone, often with siblings jeering, is a painful kind of exposure. — John Bradshaw

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I know from my own clinical work that when people are beaten and hurt, they numb out so that they can't feel anymore. — John Bradshaw

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NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER According to James Masterson in The Narcissistic and Borderline Disorders, the main clinical characteristics of the narcissistic personality disorder are: Grandiosity, extreme self-involvement, and lack of interest and empathy for others, in spite of the pursuit of others to obtain admiration and approval. The narcissist is endlessly motivated to seek perfection in everything he does. Such a personality is driven to the acquisition of wealth, power and beauty and the need to find others who will mirror and admire his grandiosity. Underneath this external facade there is an emptiness filled with envy and rage. The core of this emptiness is internalized shame. — John Bradshaw

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The unlimited power that many modern gurus offer is false hope. Their programs calling us to unlimited power have made them rich, not us. They touch our false selves and tap our toxic shame. — John Bradshaw

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Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were. — John Bradshaw

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Being abandoned through the neglect of our developmental dependency needs is the major factor in becoming an adult child. We grow up; we look like adults. We walk and talk like adults, but beneath the surface is a little child who feels empty and needy, a child whose needs are insatiable because he has a child's needs in an adult body. This insatiable child is the core of all compulsive/addictive behavior. — John Bradshaw

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With the child already shame-based, the feeling of discouragement takes over the whole personality. As the shame-based child forms her primitive conscience, shame becomes immorality or neurotic guilt. The conforming child believes he can do nothing right, — John Bradshaw