Shame on You!–The Exploration of Shame in Filipino Culture

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

Filipino Culture and Shame

In the Filipino culture, when your parents or someone older wants to teach you a lesson or make you feel bad, they shame you. It’s 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 guilts me by telling me I need to lose weight. Another time was when she reproached 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 guilt I’ve experienced was towards my mental illness, OCD.

Mental Illness and Filipino Culture, or Any Other Culture

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 a mental illness; you learn to co-exist with it.  It’s challenging for people who didn’t grow up with that notion.

Internal, External, and Reflective

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

I Have Internalized and Reflective Shame

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 want the constant worry if someone is going to hit me or if I’m going to run over 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 say to 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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