Shame Attacking In his 2010 autobiography Albert Ellis wrote “Shame is often the essence of what we call human neurosis or disturbance.”
In 1968 Ellis invented a behavioral method that can quickly reduce or eliminate this powerful emotion. He called this method “shame attacking.” My colleagues and I regularly practice shame attacking and prescribe it to our patients. When we find the unwritten rules we have for ourselves repressing our freedom and spontaneity and creating shame, self-consciousness and social anxiety, we can set out to break those rules in a public setting and collect data about what happens when we do. Very often, this data helps us see these oppressive rules are unnecessary for our safety and wellness. We also find that being our silly, rule-breaking selves is a much more relaxed, fun and human road forward. My colleagues and I, shamelessly, share a few of our own shame attacking stories in this post.
In essence, we attack shame by acting in ways that are:
- Against some oppressive rule we have for ourselves - and would like to rewrite
In his book Ellis gives some examples:
- Walking into a crowded store and yelling out the time, train-station style
- Walking a banana down a sidewalk on a long red leash, stopping now and then to pet and praise it
- Calling out each train stop in a crowded subway car