Shame Therapy

Julie Beck examines the power of shame in medical care:

The new study looked at both a group of college students and a general population of adults. Participants self-reported how many times they’d felt shame while interacting with a doctor, described their most recent such encounter, and filled out the State Shame and Guilt Scale. They also reported whether they thought the doctor was intentionally shaming them; whether the condition in question got better, worse, or was unaffected by the incident; and how they reacted—by avoiding, lying, or trying to improve. …

The key difference that the study found between those who were inspired to change based on the shameful experience and those who avoided, lied, or otherwise reacted negatively was a person’s ability to distinguish between himself and his behavior. Those who saw that the doctor was condemning their behavior were more likely to make efforts to improve, and those who felt that they themselves were being attacked were more avoidant in their reactions. “Patients who think ‘okay, I engage in some unhealthy behaviors but this doesn’t mean I’m a bad person’ are more likely to be motivated to change those behaviors,” says lead researcher Christine R. Harris.”

(Video NSFW, because Louis CK)