humiliate reject neglect
ridicule disrespect abandon
dishonor slight demean
insult taunt put down
beat abuse punish
hurt loss of face soul-murder
worthless prejudice racism
numb dead cold
hell joyless suffering
pride confidence dignity
self-esteem self-respect self-love
The sequence of events leading to violence
Punishment leads to shame which then leads to anger, then rage, and finally
violence. Like a broken record, this tragic song plays itself over and over
again each day. For example, I just read in a recent letter to Ann Landers
(22 May 1997):
"One prison psychologist told of an inmate who, as a child, forgot
to feed his father's dogs one day. His father beat
him, stripped him naked, fastened a dog collar around his neck and tied
him in the backyard with the dogs.
As the boy sat crying and shivering in the backyard, he saw his mother and
sister watching from the house, also crying but too frightened to intervene."
"Later, as an outlet for his rage, the boy killed the dogs. The boy
grew up to become a rapist, the only outlet he could find for the rage he
felt toward the women in his life who had witnessed his humiliation and
done nothing to help him."
The presence of shame is the absence of love or the loss of love, and leads
to the destruction of self-esteem.
When you shame a person, it hurts. Shaming is the purposeful assault on
the soul, that inner spirit which animates the person. When shamed, the
victim marshals its resources to protect the soul. Normally, an individual
has sufficient self-esteem to survive most attacks, and has the ability
to change or exit the situation. However, in situations where self-esteem
is insufficient, persistent and severe attacks may reach the inner core
of the soul, leading to the response of rage and violence. Concomitant to
such situations, is the physical and psychic pain which can be so overwhelming
that the mind protects itself by automatically and unconsciously numbing
itself, resulting in an individual that cannot feel. When the assault is
extreme and inescapable, as may happen in child abuse, the result can be
soul murder, leaving a sociopath, a physical body inhabited by a dead soul,
a living machine that can kill or maim without feeling or remorse.
Nourishing the soul begins in childhood
In order to thrive, children must receive love, attention (lots of it!),
understanding and encouragement from others. Love nourishes self-esteem,
and builds the child 's capacity for self-love. With the ability to love,
life becomes joyful and full of happiness. Without the ability to love,
life becomes hell, full of suffering and pain.
For more on the roots of violence, read Gilligan, James (1996) "Violence:
Our deadly epidemic and its causes. NY: Putnam.
Some quotes from Gilligan's book:
p48: Shame deadens the feelings of being human, and leads to rage. The sources
of love for the self are love from others, and one's own love for oneself.
Children who fail to receive sufficient love from others, fail to build
up reserves of self-love, and the capacity for self-love, which enable them
to survive the inevitable rejections and humiliations which even the most
fortunate of people cannot avoid. Without feelings of love, the self feels
numb, empty, and dead. To be overwhelmed by shame and humiliation causes
the destruction of self-esteem. Without a certain amount of self-esteem,
the self collapses and the soul dies.
p51: "The soul needs love as vitally as the lungs need oxygen; without
it, the soul dies, just as the body does without oxygen."
pp52-53: "But a joyless life is a synonym for hell. A man who does
not love and cannot love, is in effect, condemned to hell.* His entire environment,
from which -without love- he is cut off, is without enjoyment for him, and
thus the world he "lives" in is a source of emptiness and emotional
suffocation for him. Both the world and the self are experienced and perceived
emotionally as being dead, inanimate, without a soul--without feelings."..................
"Since the sense of aliveness and humanness that comes from loving
includes a vulnerability to pain, only those who are capable of risking
pain can experience joy. Emotional health is not the absence of pain. It
is the capacity to bear painful feelings when they occur, without letting
them stop us from loving others and continuing to feel worthy of love ourselves.
A person can expose himself to the vulnerability of loving another person
only if he has enough self-esteem to protect himself from the devastation
he would suffer if that love were not reciprocated. He cannot afford to
give to another the love which he cannot give himself. If he has taken the
chance and lost, the results can be immediately and devastatingly lethal,
to others and to himself. Without love (by which I mean here love for oneself),
the self collapses, the soul dies, the psyche goes to hell. Men will quickly
and ferociously attack others, even kill them, if they think it will prevent
their own souls from being murdered. What they immediately discover when
they commit a violent act, however, is that this strategy is self-defeating.
And that is why so many murderers finally decide to end their own lives
*In other words, to love something or someone is to enjoy it, or him, or
her. and where there is joy, there is love. Conversely, where there is no
love, there is no joy (this is the condition called hell, in theological
language). And the cause of lovelessness (the incapacity for love) is joylessness
(in incapacity for joy); and vice versa. The chief causes of the incapacity
for love and joy are shame (the lack of self-love, which inhibits love of
others, and stimulates hatred toward them, and fear of them, instead); and
guilt (the presence of self-hate, which inhibits self-love, and stimulates
fear and condemnation of one's own hostile and destructive impulses and
wishes). Among the clinical and behaviorial syndromes caused by shame are
paranoia, narcissism, sociopathy, selfishness, sadism, and revenge; whereas
guilt causes, among other things, depression, penance, self-punishment,
self-sacrifice, martyrdom, and masochism.
pg 214: "We need to "change our attitudes toward taking care of
each other, instead of regarding it as shameful if men have a need to be
helped by each other (and, more shameful yet, by women)."
pg 234: "But--and this is the crux of the matter--this same emotion,
shame, that motivates the ambition, activity, and need for achievement that
is necessary for the creation of civilization also motivates violence. "
Other related quotes:
"What is hell...... it is the suffering of being unable to love."
as put by Father Zossima in F. Dostoevsky's: The Brothers Karamazov (I,VI.3.i)
"The deadliest form of violence is poverty." Gandhi
"Mankind takes no notice of him. He rambles and wanders unheeded. In
the midst of a crowd; at church; in the market . . . he is in as much obscurity
as he would be in a garret or a cellar. He is not disapproved, censured,
or reproached; he is only not seen. . . . To be wholly overlooked, and know
it, are intolerable." as noted by John Adams on impoverished individuals,
from: Discourses on Davila, Works (Boston: Little Brown, 1851) Vol VI, pp.
"Moral poverty is the poverty of being without loving, capable, responsible
adults who teach you right from wrong; the poverty of being without parents
and other authorities who habituate you to feel joy at other's joy, pain
at others' pain, satisfaction when you do right, remorse when you do wrong;
the poverty of growing up in the virtual absence of people who teach morality
by their own everyday example and who insist that you follow suit. In the
extreme, moral poverty is the poverty of growing up severely abused and
neglected at the hands of deviant, delinquent, or criminal adults."
quoted from Body Count, by William J. Bennett, John J. DiIulio, Jr., &
John P. Walters, Simon & Shuster (1996) Pg 56:
Last updated May 23, 1997
1997 by Duen
Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.
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