The level of Shame is perilously proximate to death, which may be chosen out of Shame as conscious suicide or more subtly elected by failure to take steps to prolong death. Death by avoidable accident is common here. We all have some awareness of the pain of “losing face,” becoming discredited, or feeling like a “nonperson.” In Shame, we hang our heads and slink away, wishing we were invisible. Banishment is a traditional accompaniment of shame, and in the primitive societies from which we all originate, banishment is equivalent to death.
Early life experiences that lead to Shame—such as sexual abuse—warp the personality for a lifetime unless these issues are resolved by therapy. Shame, as Freud determined, produces neurosis. It’s destructive to emotional and psychological health and, as a consequence of low self-esteem, makes one prone to the development of physical illness. The Shame-based personality is shy, withdrawn, and introverted.
Shame is used as a tool of cruelty, and its victims become cruel themselves. Shamed children are brutal to animals and to each other. The behavior of people whose consciousness is only in the 20s is dangerous: they’re prone to hallucinations of an accusatory nature, as well as paranoia; some become psychotic or commit bizarre crimes.
Some Shame-based individuals compensate with perfectionism and rigidity, becoming driven and intolerant. Notorious examples are the moral extremists who form vigilante groups, projecting their own unconscious shame onto others whom they feel justified in righteously attacking. Serial killers have often acted out of sexual moralism, with the justification of punishing “bad” women.
Since it pulls down the whole level of personality, Shame results in a vulnerability to the other negative emotions, and, therefore often produces false pride, anger, and guilt.
POWER VS. FORCE—The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior.
CHAPTER FOUR: Levels of Human Consciousness.
David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.