Self-Abandonment and the Clinical Treatment of Couples

Self-Abandonment and the Clinical Treatment of Couples

In Jake’s case: He too is deep in his own old wounds because his father being a narcissist and a “know-it-all” he criticizes Jake frequently and so with absence of attention, approval and validation, Jake also feels judged, inadequate, jealous and distrust. Similar to Amy, the feelings that are familiar to him is to be emotionally alone in the face of “neglect” and “helplessness”. His career is regarded not as successful when compared to Amy’s and by his parents and the society’s standards. He’s after all an under achiever because he is a well-read man. My point of view is that he too has identified with ‘toxic shame’ for his lack of ambition and self-hatred and self- abandonment.

Toxic Shame and the Art of Loving

Their love according to Eric Fromm’s theory of Love is considered immature. Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving describes immature love is symbiotic love, transitory and illusory. Mature form of love is attained through the retention of the individual self rather than like Amy and Jake loss through symbiosis. It is out of the desire for human connection comes a desire to fuse with another person, for the two to become in essence one. Fromm claims that the deepest, most pressing need of mankind is to overcome a sense of loneliness and separation.

My assessment is that both Amy and Jake have identified with their ‘toxic shame’, I think it is important for me to explain the two concepts of toxic shame and self- abandonment here. Shame is one of the most debilitating emotional reactions we have, it can literally suck the living day lights out of us from living our lives. However, shame is a learned behavior, or what’s considered right or wrong based on our cultural or family messages. Shame is always a reaction to judgment either from someone else or ourselves. Toxic shame is a long-standing shame that kind of bleeds into how you see yourself, others and situations. This is the type of shame that is common in a lot of individuals who have identified themselves with it and as in Amy and Jake.

Dr. Brene Brown (researcher on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work) … she indicates that shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It is the fear that we’re not good enough or that something’s inherently wrong with us. Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.


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About the Author

Barbara KiaoMs. Barbara Kiao is an Australian licensed clinical counsellor (MACA9601), published author, integrative life coach and inspirational speaker. She has been providing counseling and life coaching to individuals, couples, and organizations for more than a decade. Barbara is a sought-after speaker who regularly conducts workshops and lectures globally. An Australian national for 25 years, Barbara recently moved her 8 year private practice from Shanghai, China back to her home Sydney, Australia. She has also served on the board of SIMHA “ Shanghai International Mental Health Association for a term of 7 years. She specialises in relationships and behavioural counselling so offer executives, families, couples and individuals a calm environment where personal and relationship difficulties can be explored. Prior to becoming a full-time counselor, she also assisted hotel owners in development of marketing plans and business strategies for new and existing properties. She was a Student Counselor and an adjunct Lecturer at the T.A.F.E. College (Australia) and Northern Territory University in the field of Human Relations, Organisational Behavior, Communications and Marketing, Management Her Mission is to be fully present in the NOW so to engage, serve and empower every client that is attracted into her life to live their fullest potential. Together they push humanity forward by standing in their own truth.

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