Show #127: SHAME with Joseph Burgo, PhD


And a quick public service announcement: Go Low Tox starts Feb 25th and there are only two rounds this year, live coached by me so jump in and join me if you want to go over everything in your day to day and feel impenetrable to the green-washing, excess buying, hormone disruptive world we live in:


And onto this week’s show!

In this week’s show, I chat to Joseph Burgo, PhD about Shame – Shame itself and Shame, his new book which challenges us to use Shame as a springboard rather than be taken down by it. Resilience has a lot to do with that and Jo talks a lot about that too – how it’s cultivated and what early childhood has to do with it. Jo has been practising psychotherapy for more than 35 years and held licenses as a marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist so we’re lucky to have him with us sharing his experience with patients – and with his own shame over the years and I truly feel this was a fresh conversation on the topic. I was challenged in my thinking and I hope you are too so that we can lead happier, more emotionally resilient lives.




The questions I asked Joseph:  


  • What led you to study shame in your work?
  • In the early part of your book you take us through the “Shame spectrum” – can you talk us through that spectrum now?
  • In the start of the book you ask us to do a survey and count our points. I felt somewhat blessed to only score 12… so quite low on the scale of ‘life shame’ it seems, but so many people score high – a couple of my family members scored in the 30s and 40s due to schooling traumas…
  • Are we more scarred by the latter end of the spectrum and the higher score on the shame survey? Ie harder to heal?
  • And it might feel like “we can never shake it” when we learn that Shame is encoded in our DNA but we can, right?
  • Can we have a great self esteem and still feel shame? Does the foundation of a good self esteem make us more resilient in the face of shame?
  • What role can parents play in becoming more aware of our actions, the way we discipline our kids, the way we build their self esteem in those early years?
  • What does the act of burying and denying shame do to us – should we not be socially saying “Oh don’t worry, it’s ok” when a friend sees us shamed and we brush it off? What’s a better way to heal from shame?
  • When does self pity set in? Is it from repeat shame?
  • In clinic can you share a story of how you’ve taken someone from self pity to self esteem?
  • Something that happens to us often is when we’re proud or have good self esteem, we’re ‘put down’ / tall poppy syndrome… How do we navigate this when it happens without shaming someone else and maintaining our self esteem?
  • How do we navigate narcissists?
  • Something I love about your book is that we get exercises at the end to help us identify shame in our lives and our pasts and heal… Self awareness being the first step, right? Can you share an exercise we could all do this week to address shame in our lives?
  • We’re likely to feel shame at some point down the track – maybe even later today: What is the most important thing we can do when we experience it?



Other helpful links:

Join the next live coached round of GO LOW TOX HERE

To find out more about Joseph Burgo:

Get a copy of Jo’s new book Shame HERE




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Enjoy the show and thanks again for taking the time to rate and review the show on your app – it’s like tipping the bartender and it means the world.

Low Tox. Happy us. Happy planet

Comments 1

  1. My daily lead-ball-and-chain existence consists of a formidable perfect-storm-like combination of adverse childhood experience trauma, autism spectrum disorder and high sensitivity, the ACE trauma in large part being due to my ASD and high sensitivity.

    Ergo, it would be very helpful to people like me to have books written about such or similar conditions involving a coexistence of ACE trauma and/or ASD and/or high sensitivity, the latter which seems to have a couple characteristics similar to ASD traits.

    While SHAME is informative and useful to me in other ways, it nevertheless fails to mention any of the three abovementioned cerebral conditions, let alone the potential obstacles they may or likely will pose to readers like me benefiting from the book’s information/instruction.

    The Autistic Brain, for example, fails to even once mention the real potential for additional challenges created by a reader’s ASD coexisting with thus exacerbated by high sensitivity and/or ACE trauma.

    As it were, I also read a book on adverse childhood experience trauma, Childhood Disrupted, that totally fails to even once mention high sensitivity and/or autism spectrum disorder. That was followed by The Highly Sensitive Man, with no mention whatsoever of autism spectrum disorder or adverse childhood experience trauma.

    I therefore don’t know whether my additional, coexisting conditions will render the information and/or assigned exercises from such not-cheap books useless, or close to it, in my efforts to live much less miserably. I wonder whether I, when reading such self-help books, should try considering/consuming their content as might a neurotypical or non-ASD person?

    While many/most people in my shoes would work with the books nonetheless, I cannot; I simply need to know if I’m wasting my time and, most importantly, mental efforts.

    ACE abuse thus trauma is often inflicted upon ASD and/or highly sensitive children and teens by their normal or ‘neurotypical’ peers — thus resulting in immense and even debilitating self-hatred and shame — so why not at least acknowledge it in some meaningful, constructive way?

    … For me, it’s quite the shame.

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