TU154: Conquer Shame by Understanding the Science Behind the Feeling, with Guest Expert Dr. Steve Finn – REPLAY

by | Aug 25, 2021 | Brain Science, Episodes, Neuroscience, Parenting, Relationships, Therapy, Trauma | 0 comments

Show Notes

The Science of Shame (replay)

Dr. Stephen Finn

In this podcast, learn how to recognize the various forms of it and how guilt can be an antidote to this pit in the stomach feeling. In this REPLAY episode, Sue Marriott, Dr. Ann Kelley and guest Dr. Stephen Finn engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the least favorite feeling in most people.

It is more complicated than you think. Shamelessness and debilitating shame are both toxic and yet there is a version of these feelings that is quite healthy. Listen as we discuss the contemporary scientific research and the biology of this emotion and practical implications for your everyday life. Listen to the end to find out if you are a dandelion or an orchid.

Who is Steve Finn:

Stephen Finn a psychologist in private practice in Austin, TX and a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He founded the Center for Therapeutic Assessment, a brief but powerful psychological intervention that combines psychological testing and psychotherapy. He is also Director of Training at the European Center for Therapeutic Assessment at Catholic University of Milan, Italy, and Director of Training at the Asian-Pacific Center for Therapeutic Assessment in Tokyo, Japan. He has published 90+ articles and chapters on psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and other topics in clinical psychology, and is the author of In Our Clients’ Shoes: Theory and Techniques of Therapeutic Assessment (Erlbaum, 2007) and A Manual for Using the MMPI-2 Therapeutic Intervention (1996, University of Minnesota Press). Dr. Finn also co-edited, with Drs. Constance Fischer and Leonard Handler, Collaborative/ Therapeutic Assessment: A Casebook and Guide (Wiley, 2012). In 2011 Dr. Finn was awarded the Bruno Klopfer Award from the Society of Personality Assessment for distinguished lifetime contributions to the field of personality assessment. In August 2017 he received the award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Assessment Psychology from Section IX (Assessment) of the Society for Clinical Psychology (Division 12 of the American Psychological Association). In 2018 he was honored with the 2018 Carl Rogers Award for outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of humanistic psychology from the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of the American Psychological Association). 

Shownotes for the science of shame


Stephen Finn’s initial interest

Differentiating shame from guilt

Barrier experience, shame can become a central part of personality in some people

Guilt is a developmental achievement and is appropriate in certain circumstances. Doing something bad rather than being bad, this it’s not hopeless.

Healthy shame indicates the capacity for empathy.

Shame is a necessary social adhesive and social conditioning required for living in groups.

Lack of guilt in psychopaths

The problem of having too much or getting caught up in shame.

Developing trait shame. If normal emotions have been shamed (particularly by parents to their developing children), this can occur. This can also result from emotional neglect; misconstruing being unloved as being unloveable. 


The problem of parents with cell phones fueling neglect at an early age.

Still face experiment and instilling shame through lack of expression – (see resources for link it’s very interesting)

Relationship between having a conscience and shame

Shaming and repairing are healthy, never shaming is not. Guilt is really healthy shame. 

The physical effect of shame and biology.

In order to get over the hidden shame, you need to expose it to safe people.

Shame can only be healed interpersonally.

Different culture's social constructions of shame.

Importance of overcoming hesitation or anxiety of punishment from sharing shame.


Experiences of sharing in the group.

A complication of therapist feeling need to relate or there’s no need to feel shamed when its one on one.

Sharing is a very powerful tool.

Couples and understanding or dismissing shaming. Connecting right brain to right brain scientifically.

What does repair actually look like?

The journey from shame to guilt is recognizing it's something you did, not something you are.


The idea of narcissism freeing others up, especially in a relationship.

Importance of “me too” in terms of diminishing guilt.

Emphasis in Japan and link to high rates of suicide.

Orchid and Dandelion children concept.

Stephen’s method of therapeutic assessment (www.therapeuticassessment.com)

Wrap up & outro

Resources on general assessment and the science of shame:


Want more like this episode on Shame and Attachment?

Check out our free YouTube video Modern Adult Attachment 101 to learn more!

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