The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness


The experiences that each of us have had in addressing mental health related challenges in our own life or the life of someone who is dear to us lead to the following recommendations. First, the initial step to be taken in reducing negative stigmas and feelings of shame is the gathering of information about relevant symptoms and learning about helpful treatments.  Second, seeking qualified psychological and medical treatment can make an enormous difference in terms of addressing the symptoms and identifying the ways in which we feel about ourselves. Psychotherapy can supply us with the necessary tools to emotionally regulate and gain perspective on major life stressors and problems. We can stomp out the shame and stigma. Furthermore, psychotherapy allows us to apply meaning to our emotions and develop insights so we can disengage unhealthy thoughts and better manage emotional dysregulation. As a philosopher, Dr. Nagel offers gentle (although challenging) perspective in this regard.

Third, while receiving a formal diagnosis of a mental disorder might bring up feelings of guilt and shame, it is important not to avoid receiving this diagnosis. An accurate assessment is crucial in guiding decisions regarding evidence-based treatment. This is yet another important source of information for us in overcoming stigma.  Fourth and finally, recounting personal narratives will point to our strengths and accomplishments as well as help us identify and sustain our aspirations. All of this helps us face the sorrow and feelings of hopelessness that inevitably accompany our mental health journey. Individuals and families affected by mental illness can now directly address and eliminate the attendant shame and guilt as they gain a deeper understanding regarding the stigmas that cloud a wide range of mental health disorders. It is at this moment of Hope that we can find purpose and direction in a world that does at times seem to be a bit ridiculous.



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About the Author

Lewis And MunzerChristy Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has counseled for a combined 17 years in several clinical and medical settings and has offered career/life coaching for an additional 10 years. Christy is also Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback through BCIA, the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance organization. Prior to working in private practice settings, Christy worked in Psychiatric and Rehabilitation hospital settings. Additionally, she worked in career transition/outplacement settings helping clients with their career transition needs. Christy Lewis currently works and is the director at her own private practice setting, The Biofeedback, Education, & Training Center, PLLC, where she combines counseling with a variety of training modalities to individuals of all ages who need help with issues ranging from severe emotional turmoil to people who are working on taking their personal growth to a higher level. Specifically, she has extensive experience working with kids, teens, & adults who have anxiety, depression, ADHD, frustration/anger issues, behavioral issues, and pain management. Kendell Munzer was born in Peekskill NY in 1973. In 1997 she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Curry College. In 2002 she earned her M.A in Counseling from Mercy College. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Psychology at The Professional School of Psychology. Kendell works as a part time substitute teacher for the Charleston County School District. The majority of this work is spent working with behaviorally challenged students. She also works part time growing a local Kitchen and Bath business she and her husband have recently opened. Kendell has an extensive background as a Behavioral Specialist and has conducted many staff trainings and seminars. Presently she resides in Mt. Pleasant SC with her husband and two children. When Kendell isn’t at work she enjoys, photography, travelling, skiing, and spending quality time with her family.

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