Shame on You!

By Chitrapa at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Chitrapa at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the Filipino culture, when your parents or someone older wants to teach you a lesson or make you feel bad, they shame you. Shame is a painful feeling that arises when something dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous is done by oneself or by another. I dislike shame because it has been used against me so many times. An example is when my mother shames me by telling me I need to lose weight. Another time is when she shamed me into staying at home instead of going out by telling me only prostitutes go out. I dislike shame because I see it as emotional blackmail. “Don’t do this because you’ll ruin my reputation!” “Don’t do that because people will think badly of you!” The worst shame I’ve experience is towards my mental illness, OCD.

Mental illness in the Filipino culture, or any old country culture, is taboo. You don’t talk about it outside your family. It’s something you have to deal with, something to get over. The thing is you don’t exactly get over mental illness, you learn to co-exist with it.  It’s very difficult for people who didn’t grow up with that notion.

Shame can be broken down into internal, external, and reflective shame (Gilbert, 1998). In the context of mental illness, internal shame refers to the person’s negative view of oneself because of internalized stigma of mental illness. External shame is the negative views that others have towards someone with

Photo Courtesy: "Shame on you DSK DDC_4947" by thierry ehrmann via Flickr.
Photo Courtesy: “Shame on you DSK DDC_4947” by thierry ehrmann via Flickr.mental illness. Reflective shame is how someone with mental illness can bring shame towards others (e.g. family, significant others, friends, etc).

I mainly feel internalized shame and reflective shame. I don’t like having OCD. I don’t like the constant worry if someone is going to hit me or if I’m going to hit someone when I’m driving. I don’t like metacognition anxiety in which I worry about worrying.  I don’t like it when my mom told me to put away my anxiety workbook, or when she told me not to tell others that I went to therapy because she was afraid of what others thought. I don’t like it when my dad makes fun of me for taking medication.

I hate the shame that bombards me.


Gilbert, P. (1998). What is shame? Some core issues and contro-

versies. In P. Gilbert & B. Andrews (Eds.), Shame, interpersonal

behavior, psychopathology, and culture

(pp. 3–38).New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Photo Courtesy: “Shame” by Joe Gatling via Flickr. 

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