TU51: Conquer Shame by Understanding the Science Behind the Feeling, with Guest Expert Dr. Steve Finn

by | Dec 15, 2017 | Attachment, Brain Science, Emotional Intelligence, Episodes, Guest Interviews, Neuroscience, Parenting, Relationships, Therapy, Trauma

Show Notes

Shame, the good, the bad and the ugly! In this podcast, learn how to recognize the various forms of shame and how guilt can be an antidote to this pit in the stomach feeling. Sue Marriott, Dr. Ann Kelley and guest Dr. Stephen Finn engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the least favorite feeling in most people – the collapsed feeling of shame!

It is more complicated than you think. Shamelessness and debilitating shame are both toxic and yet there is a version of these feeling that is quite healthy. Listen as we discuss the contemporary 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 is a psychologist in private practice in Austin, TX and a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known for developing Therapeutic Assessment, a brief psychological intervention that combines psychological testing and psychotherapy. He lectures around the world on Therapeutic Assessment and other topics, including—in recent years—shame.

If you like this kind of content you’ll enjoy Episode 23, Self-Compassion with Kristin Neff

Want more like this?

Check out our free YouTube video Modern Adult Attachment 101 to learn more –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF7g4K8fDvo



Stephen Finn’s initial interest in shame

Defining shame, 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.

Some shame is good – healthy shame indicates capacity for empathy.

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

Lack of guilt in psychopaths

Problem of having too much shame 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 un-loveable. 


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 is healthy, never shaming is not. Guilt is really healthy shame. 

Physical effect of shame and biology.

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

Shame can only be healed interpersonally.

Different cultures social constructions of shame.

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


Experiences of sharing shame in group. Importance of sharing shame in group.

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

Joining in sharing shame is very powerful tool.

Couples and understanding or dismissing shame. Connecting right brain to right brain.

Getting people to transition from shame to guilt

What does repair actually look like?

The journey from shame to guilt is recognizing its something you did, not something you are.


Idea of narcissism freeing others up from shame, especially in a relationship. Need to go from shame to guilt, not shamelessness.

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

Emphasis on shame 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



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TU156: What Actually Heals in Therapy with Psychoanalyst Nancy McWilliams – Replay

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It’s hard to verbalize the problem with “evidence-based” models of care, but renowned psychoanalyst and psychologist Nancy McWilliams does just that. In today’s replay, she further describes what happens in quality depth-oriented therapies such as psychoanalytically-informed, attachment-oriented therapy, and integrates the neurobiological aspect that Freud started that has now been confirmed. Enjoy this episode replay, because it still has so much wisdom to share.

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