Fundamentalists have shame-based families

John Bradshaw, a popular psychologist in the 1980s, came up with seven rules that  fundamentalist shame based families live by. He should know, he grew up in a fundamentalist Catholic home.

1. The first rule is to control everything. If life is scary and unpredictable, and important people could stop loving you and could leave you, then control, control, control.

2. Be perfect. And of course no one can ever meet the rule, so you are constantly judged as wanting by this rule. This rule also begets the principle of never admitting you are wrong.

3. Blame and shame when things get uncomfortable and control (rule #1) didn’t work. And if you get blamed you should wish that the earth had opened up and swallowed you rather than to receive the shame you receive.

4. Don’t think, don’t feel, don’t want and don’t dream. If you do, keep it to yourself (and be ashamed of it).

5. Rule number five is reminiscent of The Fight Club: Don’t talk about it. If you have a feeling, need or want, don’t talk about it, hide it, because that is something truly to be ashamed of.

6. Never admit you are wrong. Cover up, lie, hide your mistake, but if someone else makes a mistake, shame her.

7.  Never trust anyone, because if you do, they will shame you in the end.From John Bradshaw’s book: Healing the Shame that Binds You

These rules emotionally cripple people as they grow up. (The gospel of forgiveness is the opposite of these principles.) Although many supervisors are shame based, the ones who are not tend to rise in the ranks farther than those who are shame based, thus keeping the shame based fundamentalists in lower paying jobs.

Psychoanalytic psychologists call these families obsessive. These are the families that lose sight of the big picture and focus on the rules instead. They are constantly catching their children doing something wrong, blaming and shaming them until the children are convinced no-one would really like them if they knew who they really are. Classically set up to be either obsessive as an adult, or an addict. (The Apostle Paul describes the feeling at the end of Romans 7: “I do what I don’t want to do. Who will rescue me from the body of this death?”)

Advertisements

About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
This entry was posted in Faith and Works, Grace, Manipulation, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fundamentalists have shame-based families

  1. michaelbhall says:

    “These rules emotionally cripple people as they grow up. (The gospel of forgiveness is the opposite of these principles.) Although many supervisors are shame based, the ones who are not tend to rise in the ranks farther than those who are shame based, thus keeping the shame based fundamentalists in lower paying jobs.”

    There needs to be balance between shame and forgiveness. God was never afraid to call Israel his people, nor was he ever afraid to call Israel a harlot. There is a time and place for shame; there is a time and place for forgiveness. It is just as wrong to rely exclusively on one as the other.

  2. Phil says:

    Shame only changes behavior. it does not change ones inner being.
    It is a strong biblical principle that the truth will set you free. How much freedom is there when shame is present?

  3. Gary Cummings says:

    My first wife raised in the Church of Christ (NI) displayed all of these on a daily basis. To control her, even after we were married, her mother gave her phenobarbital to keep her calm. When she felt out of control, here came the phenobarbital. Her mother used shame and reward to run her life, and was one of the main causes for her abandoning our marriage in 1971.
    I tried to reconcile, but her mother had the upper hand, I was a “commie” conscientious objector who left the Lord’s Church. That was all there was to it. I wonder if she still takes the phenobarbital?

Please limit comments to 500 words per day or they may be reduced by the editor.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s