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Healing the Shame that Binds You
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Healing the Shame that Binds You

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  4,545 ratings  ·  83 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...more
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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Natalie
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...more
Emma
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...more
Lisa  A. Romano
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...more
Potro
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...more
Jennifer Leavitt-wipf
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
Esther
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
Katie
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
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
M
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...more
Initially NO
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...more
Biff
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
Juanita Johnson
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
Joanna
Dec 03, 2008 Joanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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 Bolinger
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
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
L.L.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathan
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...more
Graham
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
Rebecca
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.
Dawn
I found this book to be extremely helpful in recovering from childhood wounds that have bound me to the past and made it more difficult to live my life fully and freely as I am meant to live it. I read it a few years ago, having borrowed it from my therapist. Definitely a useful book for people who seek healing from any traumatic situations in their lives and desire to become whole and healthy again.
Lynette Nelson
This is a fantastic book, that I almost think everyone should read. Even if you aren't living in toxic shame, I can guarantee you know someone who is struggling with it. While there is a great deal of compassion for those with the physical scars of abuse, there is little for those with invisible, emotional scars. Not only will this help those bound my toxic shame, but it can bring more understanding from those who care about them. The first half explains the problem, and the second half gives th...more
Lisa
A slightly dated book that has some good advice, but I can't stop thining of Mr Bradshaws 80's sweaters.
Bear
Have read this book several times over the years and each time read, it continues to help me discover issues which I need to work on. Bradshaw has a way to help a person examine areas of their life and see how these negative influences are toxic to one's well-being.

Bradshaw has a knack of speaking in terms which is understood and yet compassionate and accepting. I do recommend this book to anyone who is on a path of self acceptance and healing. I stress that it's also best to have a trust frien...more
Meagan Frank
This is an important book for everyone to read. If you are from a dysfunctional family...if you are living in a dysfunctional situation this book will speak directly to you. For the healthy among us, because we are surrounded by dysfunctional and hurting people, this book has something to offer everyone. It is a window to understanding cause and effect, but more importantly, Bradshaw offers a number of strategies to deal with emotional wounds. People deserve to live life fully, and if there are...more
Jean Marie Angelo
An important book for the 12-step, healing process.
H Shaheen
i think i should have to read it as early as possible.
Scott
Some parts were good, some parts were boring. For me, some parts were applicable, some parts were not. The main message is to have healthy shame instead of "toxic shame." We have worth as people regardless of things we have done or things we have gone through. There is a lot of valuable insight and a lot of information. This is more of a book with breadth than depth in my opinion. This book may be handy for my future career.
Elena Bennett
This book is still surprisingly relevant considering that it was originally written 17+ years ago when we had even less knowledge of the neurobiological function of shame. I would recommend it to anyone in recovery who follows a 12-step program and as an addendum to a research-based book from authors like Dan Siegel, Bonnie Badenoch, Alan Schore, Arlene Montgomery, etc.

Shame is an incredibly powerful and often ignored facet of healing processes and this book both recognizes and addresses this im...more
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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...more
More about John Bradshaw...
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child Bradshaw on the Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem Family Secrets: The Path to Self-Acceptance and Reunion Creating Love: The Next Great Stage of Growth Reclaiming Virtue: How We Can Develop the Moral Intelligence to Do the Right Thing at the Right Time for the Right Reason

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“Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were.” 32 likes
“Hell, in my opinion, is never finding your true self and never living your own life or knowing who you are.” 30 likes
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