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Panic and shame.

Posted Sep 24 2009 10:10pm

Shame is part of the experience for most people with panic disorder. These are people for whom being out of control is unacceptable; that they lose control regularly fills their heads with thoughts of their inadequacy. That they often stop going to the places or participating in the activities that tend to make them panic only makes the shame worse.

According to a recent study at the University of Alberta:
...people who feel debilitated by shame tend to internalize and over-personalize the situation. They also seem resigned to being unable to change their feelings or their fate....

...one of the key components to overcoming these feelings is to step back from the problem and view the picture in a different light. When sufferers can identify external factors that contributed to their actions or situation (for example, discrimination or peer pressure) and differentiate between being a bad person versus doing something bad, they can begin to break the grip of hopelessness that plagues them.
Central to breaking the shame spiral? "Only connect," as E.M. Forster wrote. Or, as the piece about the U. of Alberta puts it: "...one of the key steps to overcoming a profound sense of shame is making connections, be it with family and friends, a higher power, or humanity as a whole."

I've written about this topic before. From where I sit, the "accept yourself" step is the hardest part of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
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