Branded by Shame
Cracked Mirror, Branded by Shame was the research study I performed in 2016. It analyzed experiences of body criticism and appraisal. The body is considered the foundation of our sense of self. Being judged in not a pleasant experience. Judgments are not necessarily coming from the outside. How many times are we the first ones to feel like falling short? After feeling criticized (by self or others) participants experienced shame, horror, and a sense of alienation. Whatever happened to their body part, it resulted in a defective sense of self and an ambivalent sense of belonging. For instance, one of the participants questioned his being “fit to fit in.”
People use visibility as a mean of presenting and performing identities. Thus, a blemish, a scar, a criticized part of the body tends to organized our relationships in pecking order. A particular aspect of our appearance may question what is socially desirable. Shame is the feeling that comes from the uncanny discovery of our self-consciousness.
Whether real or imaginary, judgments set off a series of diverse coping strategies to control the message and its effect: how we feel about it, and how to maintain our relationship with others. Most participants felt judged while they were teenagers. The message still echoed in their minds decades after. They lived most of their lives taking care of the questioned body part, whether by hiding or embellishing it.
To learn more about this research, find my book called Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Gaze, Body Image, Shame, Judgment and Maternal Function: Being & Belonging. To find help working through this type of suffering, contact my office and request and appointment.