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Healing the Shame that Binds You

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,189 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
This classic book, written 17 years ago but still selling more than 13,000 copies every year, has been completely updated and expanded by the author.

"I used to drink," writes John Bradshaw,"to solve the problems caused by drinking. The more I drank to relieve my shame-based loneliness and hurt, the more I felt ashamed."

Shame is the motivator behind our toxic behaviors: the
Paperback, 316 pages
Published October 15th 2005 by Health Communications (first published October 1st 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 11, 2009 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-growth
This book is a fundamental text in the field. What I found most helpful was understanding that shame-based families operate in a set of dysfunctional rules. Understanding that is the key to uprooting them from your psyche (or at least not taking them seriously).

It also helped me understand the physical experience of shame and how it shuts down your whole system - it binds to the emotions or sensations you were feeling at the time you were shamed, so when you feel those emotions again, the shame
Apr 27, 2010 Natalie rated it it was amazing
In the category of self-help books for depression and anxiety, this was definitely a book that completely altered my outlook on life.

I have to warn that the first part delineates the problem, and the second half delineates the solution. The first part can be very tough to get through. But it is necessary to understand the extent of toxic shame. And once you get to the solution part, there are some great things & it's worth it.

I recommend this book for not only people struggling with depres
Lisa  Romano
Oct 26, 2012 Lisa Romano rated it it was amazing
When you are stuck inside a closed family system, you do not know you are not normal. Because the entire organism is ill, you think like the other members of your family, in spite of how wrong you feel within. It is not safe to complain. You are expected to be compliant, and worse--to be grateful.

Healing The Shame That Binds You explains in poetic detail the not so easy to see dynamics that create shame and guilt in closed dysfunctional family systems.

When my life was falling apart, and my famil
Jun 17, 2014 Colt rated it really liked it
Shelves: recovery
An informative read. As I read this book I constantly found myself saying, "no wonder." This work really is helping me calm down; to see why I have been suffering and need to let go of perfectionism. A lot of us are suffering out there and if not that, a lot of us are just flying under the radar to whom they are called to be.

This book can educate you as we'll as start aligning you to your true calling. It does none of the work for you. Nor does it claim to. Rather it explicitly pictures why peo
Dec 20, 2011 Esther rated it really liked it
A hot mess of influences from attachment theory, psychodynamic theory, addiction literature, trauma, etc. Bradshaw definitely appropriates a lot, but I was okay with it, and the 'self-help' tone was not unbearable. I appreciated his observations of toxic shame and how it grows out of dysfunctional family dynamics. My favorite chapters were "Liberating your lost inner child" and "Integrating your disowned parts." The former had a guided imagery mediation/exercise that I used with a client success ...more
Mar 28, 2012 Biff rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. I'm almost a different person. What this book taught me let me shed shame, and the accompanying terror and anxiety, at least the non chemically motivated kind of anxiety. There's even a section on nlp that helps you alter those shame spiral bad memories that come back over and over, so they never surface without your consent. I am not a self-help book person, but this book is beyond good, I recommend it to anyone who's ever said ihatemyself i hate myself ihatemyself an ...more
Jennifer Leavitt-wipf
Aug 03, 2011 Jennifer Leavitt-wipf rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most enlightening and interesting books I've ever read. But it loses 1/2 a star (and that's generous) for having a title that could send you into a world of shame all on its own. Could you read this on the subway? I did, but I bought a purple book cover for it in order to do so. ... The book talks about how, starting with the story of Adam and Eve, shame has always been at the root of all our undoings. And yet our society continues to use shame as an attempted form of discipli ...more
Jun 23, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A MUST READ to understand the shame-based thinking that runs the psyche, not just for those dealing with addictions or compulsive behavior, but those who are still living with wounds from dysfunctional origin families... What lies beneath the symptoms of destructive behaviors, eating disorders, compulsions, addictions, abuse, control or co-dependence issues, and other self-defeating or self-limiting behaviors stems from the shame based thinking and beliefs we learned from the families we grew up ...more
Rebecca Grace
Mar 22, 2010 Rebecca Grace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, self-help
All I can say, is that this is one of the best books I've ever read, period. No matter what you're going through, no matter what hurtles you face, large or small, this book delves straight into the heart of every issue, and believe me, it covers every issue you can imagine. I don't want to give too much away, take too much away from the book itself by sharing its wisdom, when I think you should definitely check it out for yourself. You don't need to be searching for inner-peace, answers to your ...more
Aug 05, 2009 M marked it as reads-on-hold
While a definite "must read" for me, this one is really difficult. I've been bound by shame for most of my life - the last couple of decades to an incredible degree. Sifting through all of that and learning to unravel those ties is a very slow and painful process. Bradshaw's book is an incredible tool for this journey.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through now. Some sections/pages are easier to read than others. I may need to add this one to my personal library. I can see needing to re-read or refere
Initially NO
Mar 19, 2014 Initially NO rated it really liked it
Shelves: crisis-healing
I got a lot out of this book. Made me think of how when an abuse, such as psychiatric abuse is dismissed as 'nothing' or 'lying' or 'exaggerating', the mind of the psychiatric survivor tries to come up with ways of communicating to the abuse to a society in denial, a society that strangles the truth.

John Bradshaw talks about how when people cannot speak, or are subjected to denial and abuse the p112, 'Confused feeling' is then 'converted into a thought pattern.'

The automatic defences, if continu
Juanita Johnson
Nov 27, 2011 Juanita Johnson rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt a must read for anyone working a 12 step program. My only wish is that I had access to, and the willingness to read, this book before I began having children. This books reminds us that everyone is formed from not only our own actions but things that happens and is passed on from our parents. This book provides proof that you can not save another, before saving yourself. It offers resolution in anger between parents and I and the ability to see who they were and how much they lov ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Titja rated it liked it
The definitions are a bit too inclusive and vague. Nevertheless, I think techniques listed in this book could be useful in therapeutic setting.
Dec 03, 2008 Joanna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Joanna by: My fellow Queen Janice
This is the first book I have ever read based on self help and I am hitting myself over the head for not reading it sooner! What an eye-opener it has been and how quickly it has changed things about my life. The book has an excellent bibliography, one that I intend to use to the fullest extent. I am on the last chapter of this book and I have to return it to the library soon but I'm thinking of buying it because it is the most important book I have ever read in my life. I owe it all to my litera ...more
Adrienne Ridgway
Nov 02, 2012 Adrienne Ridgway rated it liked it
I read this book when I was in college studying psychology, or shortly thereafter. I remember this being a REALLY GOOD book at understanding how shame is such an integral part of our shadow selves. If someone is feeling like they have deep, dark secrets or there is something wrong with them or that they are a bad person, or if they are struggling with addiction this book goes a long way in explaining where that can be coming from and how to heal it.
Jan 09, 2016 Huston rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for understanding the nature of psychological problems, diagnosing their causes, and working towards resolving them.
Aug 05, 2015 Leanne rated it really liked it
Before Brene Brown, Bradshaw was teaching about shame. He is not as funny, but he does have good insights. Read in my late 20's, Healing the Shame that Binds You helped me to begin to understand the dangers of perfectionism.

"High achievement is often the result of being driven by toxic shame. Feeling flawed and defective on the inside, I had to prove I was okay by being exceptional on the outside. Everything I did was based on getting authenticated on the outside. My good feelings depended upon
Mar 04, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
While a bit dated, written in 1988, this book remains the 'classic' book about the development and treatment of addiction. Suggested as a book for a men's group in which I participate, this book was very insightful about the reality of toxic shame in the lives of many people and how it leads to the development of addictive behavior in the lives of men and women. Bradshaw also offers several insights into the treatment of addiction, all centered around the proven success of 12-Step recovery progr ...more
May 06, 2015 Erythrocytes rated it liked it
I'v never heard who John Bradshaw is, so I decided to watch some videos of him. To be honest, I didn't really gain much trust in him after watching his speeches. A recovered alcoholic, without any psychological degree, who really could have talked a bit less loud – that's what I remembered the most about him. Although he notices his own past mistakes, I couldn't shake the feeling that he was not honest. I was really skeptical about the book's ratings.

This work, as noted by some other people, is
Apr 05, 2016 Rory rated it did not like it
there's probably serval good take aways here but the author is too busy trying to prove that any and every psychological condition is rooted in shame. distilling complex psychological problems to "just shame" doesn't do them justice.
Sep 27, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by a friend that could see that I was going through some things. I have read many books about psychology and many of them reframe the same concepts in different words or labels. This particular book hit the nail on the head for me in many ways. Although I may not have agreed with all of his ideas, I felt John Bradshaw got to heart of the matter when it comes to the deep rooted emotions that many of us harbor and oftentimes don’t have a clue why we feel the way we ...more
Marilyn Magallanes
"Human beings need help. Not one of us is so strong that he does not need love, intimacy, and dialogue in community. No human being can make it alone."
Bea Elwood
Jun 20, 2014 Bea Elwood rated it it was ok
While reading a different book this one was mentioned - it sounded like something I should read. I have struggled with my shadow side but have been fortunate enough to be on a path that has introduced me to some wonderful people/ books/ stories that have helped me heal and accept myself. Although this book did have little gems in it, I found it extremely difficult to read. I feel this is not an easy introduction, the beginning is heavy with redefining what is meant by words like shame, so much s ...more
Glen Grunau
May 18, 2013 Glen Grunau rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to John Bradshaw over 20 years ago but dismissed his contribution to my field (counselling psychology) because of how I judged my colleagues in the addictions field, who promoted his work, as “New Age” fanatics. Little did I realize at that time how strongly rooted I was in my own egotistical, judgmental “first half of life” false self. Twenty years later this book by Bradshaw was recommended to me by my spiritual direction supervisor, Jeff Imbach – someone that I trusted ...more
Feb 13, 2013 L.L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, psychology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2015 Ladonda rated it liked it
I am so glad to be done with this book. It had some very interesting and informative content but was a very hard read. I couldn't sit down with it for more than an hour at a time. I'd read a paragraph and then find I'd have to go back a reread it to fully grasp what was being said. After most reading sessions, I had a head ache and felt my head was going to bust open. Not a leisurely for fun type of read at all. At least going into it I was made aware that it was a hard read. I recommend it but ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Jonathan rated it liked it
One the main benefits of this book for me were the early chapters that helped me to see that I don't have an issue with toxic shame, as I had thought. In fact, my issues would be much better described as issues with guilt. Since the book really focuses on shame, most of the rest of the book didn't apply to me.

For those to whom the book does apply, I think it would probably be really good, though a lot of times it was so specific to the subject matter that it would be difficult for me to really e
Oct 29, 2012 Graham rated it really liked it
Very clearly defines the complex manifestations and causes of 'toxic shame' I was impressed by the authors depth of knowledge and understanding. It helped that I have 12 step program experience but there were enough techniques and exercises in the solution part of the book to help anyone take steps to deal with these issues. My only criticisms would be that he offers little in the way of healthy individual models as examples which leads the reader to conclude early on that everyone is doomed! No ...more
May 27, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: brain-power
Understanding what shame is all about and learning to overcome the negative effects of shame is something that can help every human - I highly recommend this book! Especially if you were raised with the "shame on you" type of discipline.
Sagar Bagzai
Mar 21, 2015 Sagar Bagzai rated it it was amazing
this book has changed my life. strongly recommended for those who wants happiness in their lives and are fighting with themselves. to heal the shame in you, we must embrace it. the only way out is through.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

John Bradshaw has been called "America's leading personal growth expert." The author of five New York Times bestsellers, Bradshaw On: The Family, Healing the Shame That Binds You, Homecoming, Creating Love, and Family Secrets. He created and hosted four nationally broadcast PBS television series based on his bes
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“To truly be committed to a life of honesty, love and discipline, we must be willing to commit ourselves to reality.” 739 likes
“Hell, in my opinion, is never finding your true self and never living your own life or knowing who you are.” 58 likes
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