Healing the Shame that Binds You (Recovery Classics)
Healing the Shame that Binds You (Recovery Classics)

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Product Description

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 compulsion, co-dependency, addiction and drive to superachieve that breaks down the family and destroys personal lives. This book has helped millions identify their personal shame, understand the underlying reasons for it, address these root causes and release themselves from the shame that binds them to their past failures.

Customer Reviews:

  • Bradshaw's Lasting Insight Into Our Adulthood Emotional Problems
    John Bradshaw is great. It's no wonder that this book that is almost 20 years old now, and is still a great source of help for those who are dogged by unresolved childhood issues. Bradshaw has faced these issues himself, so his credibility as an author is unchallenged. ...more info
  • retrieve your soul from hell
    It is no exaggeration to say this was the most helpful self-help book i've ever encountered. For a long time I was always a seeker but could never get to the bottom of the "soul sickness" I felt within my deepest sense of self. I was operating under the general theory my soul had been stolen from me in my early childhood. [I was raised by a brutal Amish preacher father who was very abusive physically and emotionally] I could never feel right about who and what I was as a person. This book truly opened my inner eye and gave me the insights and tools to take that mythical inner journey into my own "underworld" and find and retrieve my soul. After many years of depression, divorces, alcoholism, feeling absolutely defective as a human being, this wonderful book brought tears to my eyes, light to my mind, and true healing to my heart. I feel now I am a completely different person than I was during those years of toxic shame hell. While the healing is still ongoing, the light and growth of self esteem I've found are sure and precious treasures "The Universe" , [God?] has blessed me with. If your life seems depressing and out of control and sad; please read and reread this masterful work of self exploration. It can save you from much shame and pain. If you are as toxically shame based as I was, this book could very well save your life and engender a new feeling in your heart and soul: peace and happiness!...more info
  • Change My Life
    What happened to the review I just wrote?...more info
  • Convoluted
    The book is divided into two parts the first identifies the causes and nature of 'toxic shame' and the other how to heal from it.

    I found the first part quite convoluted and lacking clarity he repeats things alot and seems to have invented a new vocabulary which is not always well defined.

    The book uses alot of material from other authors such as Alice Miller et al. which represent the best parts of this book. There is an originality from them which Bradshaw lacks, his input felt quite biased and perhaps that is why he rambles so much.

    I have begun the second part but have found it lacking, it uses the 12 step program as the ideal model for healing and somehow just throws together disparate research on healing.

    If this book represents his others I think it sad that he has made a career out of simply putting forward other people's work with little valuable contribution from himself.

    I found his tone somewhat preacher like and I feel he hides behind ambiguity in his language and writing style to disguise the lack of substance.

    THe book does have value but only becuase of the references to other people's work.

    ...more info
  • Detailed and through
    This book gave a great overview of the core of a lot of people's issues, especially with addiction and how it feeds into the cycle of addiction. ...more info
  • For shame
    What is the longevity of John Bradshaw's book, and how does his writing stand up in the perspective of time? The book was published over ten years ago, and it seems to have dropped through the cracks of the large and populous human growth floorboards, of which it was a part.

    The first thing I noticed about Bradshaw's writing is its sheer verbosity. He writes in a roundabout way, rather than concisely and to the point. Contrast him, for example, with a writer on Buddhism or Taoism (say, Alan Watts?).

    Writing on Buddhism or Taoism may provide authors with a natural impetus to be concise, but the human growth movement is broad and billowy, and concise writing may not be important to the authors.

    And Bradshaw seems to drag in every alley cat he ever heard meow in the human growth movement, to help him reflect on what he sees as the underlying principle of it all: Shame.

    Bradshaw reports that he is a theologian, but also someone who recovered from alcoholism, and was deeply shamed as a child, which shame he finally learned to deal with and overcome.

    There are many fine snippets from his book, which may be of use to folks, but overall, I think most people looking for direction are going to be repelled by his constant conceptualizations. To paraphrase another well-known quotation, "People cannot live on concepts alone."

    If he had given more personal studies or little case histories, it would have been much more helpful. Instead, he includes page after page of some "guided" meditations or shame inquiries, which were totally useless to me. If you are looking for guided meditations, this is the place for you.

    So, in all, Bradshaw's book does not hold up to scrutiny after time, in my opinion. It's one of the many from its era and niche that was forgotten and will be unlikely to remembered henceforth. Anyway, it was a bestseller once, and that's what counts, I guess. It did have its 15 minutes of fame, and a lot of books never even get that. Diximus.

    ...more info
  • Graet Book
    This deals very pragmatically with the issue of shame. It has helped me understand my own patterns and what drives me and others. Really recommend this for people who have the courage to get straight and not blame others - but understand the cause of one's shame. This plays an important role in correcting it....more info
  • I never knew who I was until I read this book.
    This was the most amazing piece of work dealing with shame based personalities that I had ever read. While reading this book I found many answers to questions that I have been asking myself for years and was never able to find. Also the recovery methods that were described were the most helpful then all the other self help books combined. When I started reading this book I started to cry and continued crying all through the book. When I finished reading the tears did not stop because I was so sad that I finished this book....more info
  • Interesting read
    It's clear from the beginning how much Bradshaw cares about this topic an how profoundly positive his exploration into this area was a great gift to him. It was refreshing to begin reading Bradshaw's take on shame. I began to see familiars in his descriptions right away and was deeply moved by them. They helped my feel not so isolated, among many other emotions and feelings, in my own challenges with shame. I was disappointed though in the sensationalism in some of his claims and his self-promotion for his other material. I also question intensely his claims about the 12 step programs. He states that no one questions the efficacy of these programs, but many do. The blind support of these programs has no basis in research and in many cases there is support to the idea that while the primary behavior may change, i.e. alcohol abuse, the program continues to foster deep internal shame and feelings of inadequacy in facing the deep underpinnings of addiction in many people. In general I think this book can be a useful tool, but must be buttressed by additional reading by essential voices in this field, i.e. Frances Broucek, et. al. So yes, check this book out, but read it with questions while feeling bathed in recognition and validation. Use the tools that are useful for you and let go of what isn't....more info
  • Flawed but worthy
    This was one of the first Popular psychology books I ever read.It made a big impression on me.It's easy to read and I promise you'll get a lot out of it.Put it on your "must read" list....more info
  • Powerfully Direct and Compassionately Change-inducing
    I am reluctant to write this review because it is so hard to simply put into words the effect this book had on me. But in the spirit of compassion for the many people who suffer internally as I can suffer, I want to extend myself to try to say some words that might help another and draw them to this book. Bradshaw, with direct, compassionate clarity and courageous honesty, portrays the deeply painful feelings and behaviors that are the outcome of shame. He describes types of behaviors of significant people in our childhoods who tangibly and obviously, or intangibly and inadvertently, caused us to feel shame. And he depicts its impact on our adult lives and how it continues, how we perpetuate it on those around us. At a critical point in my own life, Bradshaw's book provided a large step forward for my own comprehension of how I came to feel the way I feel, and do the things I do. It is relieving and at the same time uncomfortable to acknowledge my own adaption to being alive. For any meaning to be derived from these insights requires willingness to change. Bradshaw suggests tools and ways of being that offer a path, and sites authors whose work can provide additional steps....more info
  • Tools to Heal
    I've been in therapy for years trying to get to the root of my problems, and this book nailed it. Now, not only do I understand myself, but I have the tools to actually HEAL!

    It has allowed me to have compassion for my family as well as myself.

    I bought this book because of the title and the reviews, but had no idea that it would prove to be so helpful. If you want to learn how to get better, I would recommend this book. My husband has even commented on how I've had fewer "episodes" since starting the work, and am hopeful that it will help me to work through my depression....more info
  • Good attempt, missed target.
    I was given this book by my therapist. Immediately upon reading the book, I found it to be old-fashioned and sexist. For example, on page 4 Bradshaw says, "What a child needs is a firm but understanding caretaker, who needs to be getting her own needs met through her spouse." Further on in the book he talks about how a mother is supposed to bake pies, a daughter is supposed to do the dishes, the son is supposed to save the family from a fire, and the father is supposed to take the family on vacation.

    Even disregarding the sexist comments, the book offers very little new information. For the most part, Bradshaw is pulling from other authors such as Alice Miller, who has obviously written about these subjects in a much more logical and efficient manner. Bradshaw is redundant, often commits circular reasoning, and does not appeal to the gifted individual he speaks about so often....more info
  • Not an easy book to read
    If any part of your childhood (or adult life) was or is dysfunctional, this is a must-read book. I wish I could tell everyone how important it is to get a book like this and read it until everything in your past and present begins to make sense. It took me a while to "get it," but now I see how important it is to understand that everyone in the family has to play certain roles to keep the dysfunctional family dysfunctionally functioning. When you read this book you'll understand why everything happened in your family the way it did. Thanks, John Bradshaw, for explaining the dysfunctional family so clearly - and showing how to change your life forever by healing the shame that binds you....more info
  • Goes along with 12-step programs
    Bradshaw, J. 1988. Healing the Shame that Binds You. Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, Florida

    John Bradshaw's book is full of references to various philosphies and methods of treating psychological problems. He expalins how many of our difficulties relate to how we were made to feel unworthy of love.

    I especially enjoyed how he described the work of Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck. Thinking that we should be perfect or that we know what someone is thinking can lead us into depression.

    John Bradshaw goes from quoting famous people to mentioning the simple praises that are heard in 12-step meetings. So people who attend 12-step meetings are likely to get a lot from this book.

    ...more info
  • nauseating psycho-babble
    i couldn't even get 25 pages into this book...it is so full of "techno-speak" littered with terms from counseling and psychoanalysis which are bewildering and unintelligible

    the whole premise of "healthy shame" is like saying "good murder"-it makes no sense......more info
  • Don't debate whether you need it or not...just read it
    If you're investigating this book, chances are you can benefit greatly from the information. What harm can come from you feeling less shame in your life? None.

    And, believe me, if you act upon the information in this incredible book, your life will change. You will feel less bound by shame. You will feel more connected to love and to the people around you. ...more info
  • Marginally better than "Bradshaw On: The Family:"
    I actually wanted to give it 3 1/2 stars, but as that isn't an option, I chose to round up, because the book does have alot of good points.

    The first part of the book describes what toxic shame is, how it comes about, and how it impacts people. Much of this section of the book is a shorter, clearer, more well written version of the material presented in "Bradshaw On: The Family." My only concern about this section is that the author seems to imply that every single problem everyone has is rooted in toxic shame, which seems simplistic at best.

    The second section is a series of techniques on how to cope with and alter one's toxic shame. Again, Bradshaw sings the praises of 12 step support groups and does not really get into the arguments that say such groups are not effective on their own, for most people. His unwillingness to answer his critics is disconcerting; he seems to be hiding. The techniques range from meditation to cognitive behavioural techniques. I found that some of the meditations could be difficult at best and harmful at worst for a person doing them alone. These are meditations he has done in groups, where he was there to monitor if people were being triggered. I think people trying them alone, without the supervision of a qualified professional, could bring up stuff they can't cope with. The other techniques seem safer and easier to use on one's own.

    In terms of the book as an overall whole, as usual, Bradshaw seems to write from a place of victimhood, which is discouraging. As well, he still uses too much personal examples The stories sometime distract from the text and seems self-aggrandizing rather than being the appropriate self-disclosure some therapists will use. I often wondered, "What does this have to do with anything?"

    If you like Bradshaw's other works, this book will please you. If you haven't read him before, this is a better place to start than "On the Family". If you don't like his other work, this won't change your mind, especially if you don't have patience for "New Age" techniques like meditation....more info

  • Excellent classic book on toxic shame and how to deal with it
    This is in my opinion John Bradshaw's best book. It encapsulates his thinking on the area of toxic shame and demonstrates how this phenomenon is at the core of compulsions, addictions, co-dependencies and our need to achieve beyond what is really necessary or serves our larger purposes.

    In this volume, John Bradshaw demonstrates how toxic shame develops and leads to the breakdown of families. He also talks about how this cycle is perpetuated through generations and actually covers a lot of ground in terms of family dynamics.

    Through affirmations, working with feelings, visualizations and other techniques, the author shows the reader how to work through toxic shame. As someone who has done the work himself, he comes across as compassionate, knowledgeable and very practical.

    Sometimes I get annoyed when I read this book because of unnecessary repetition of some key concepts. This is the explanation for my 4 rating, along with the fact that many of his books overlap each other with respect to content. Therefore, my overall rating is that this is a solid, well-written classic that certainly deserves its best-seller status. However, prepare yourself for some repetition and unnecessarily long examples of what he is talking about.
    ...more info
  • Changed My Life
    My whole life is divided into two sections - the the time before I found John Bradshaw and the time after. Everything else relates to that. He was the ONLY one would could explain to me the basis of my life's problems and the solutions. He takes an eclectic approach - bringing in all of his knowledge important theorists, going way back to Europe and he combines it with his many years studying theology, family dynamics and of course, his own practice, workshops and alcoholism. He was able to tell me so much about myself. I also found the book to be excellent at reaching men - who would before - not want to talk about themselves. John started out as a catholic priest - and is now ministering to many more than he could have ever reached back in the monastery in Toronto....more info
  • cutting loose the bindings
    Bradshaw helps us work through the really tough parts of our past to finally see some light in the future. If you'll take the time to work through Chaps 1-4 (not easy) you can find a way to real freedom through this insightful and honest book. Too "ashamed" of the past to accept it ? Start here and find the healing you need and crave....more info
  • An excellent starting point for recovery
    From my own family experiences, I became numb to the world. This made the process of finding a solution difficult because I couldn't even find a starting point for recovery. This book was a fantastic source of enlightenment because it names, very specifically, the varying facets of shame and causes of depression. It helped me really put a finger on what I was wrestling with, and gave me a "to-do" list for therapy. I don't think this book on its own will help you actually recover, but it definitely will give you a specific plan of action and greater understanding of how unhealthy behaviors perpetuate through generations. I believe talk therapy is the way to successful recovery because they can recognize unhealthy behaviors that you don't notice. Thankfully, professional therapists truly are a "safe place" to reveal secrets that tied you down. I'd recommend this book to people who felt numb like I did, and who need a way to regain some clarity. When you have the courage to face your darkest fears, you will realize it was worth a hundred times the pain in order to feel genuinely happy again....more info
  • In depth look at shame
    I read David Burn's Feeling Good. It talks about the connection between the moods and thoughts. Healing the Shame book identifies (accurately) Shame as the root cause of the (most of the) psychological disorders....more info
  • HEALING that keeps giving...
    I bought my edition of Bradshaw's "Healing the Shame that Binds You" in 1988, one year after my experience with The Caron Foundation's ACOA treatment program.
    This book magnified in detail the specifics of my co-alcoholism. My father was the drinker in my family, the rest of us were the co-dependent followers.
    Bradshaw put SHAME on the map in the recovery landscape and until I read, absorbed and fully integrated his meaning of healing from this most noxious, deleterious aspect of my disease, I could not move forward.
    I have moved forward in ways I could not have predicted nor believed back then.
    This book has been a life-saver and today I am buying copies for the women I mentor in jail & prison. They are finding stunning hope and a new way to transform their self-hatred and self-defeating life patterns.
    I urge you to buy this book and read it, then pass it along to everyone you know in crisis!
    Pie Dumas
    Author & Life Coach

    ...more info
  • Probably One of the Most Important Books I'll Ever Read
    I highly recommend this book anyone who has experienced - depression, guilt, grief, abandonment, abuse or addiction. Healing the Shame - points to the build up of - Undeserved Shame as Children - as the main reason for the emotional pain we're haunted by through out our lives - pain we are destined to relive if not faced. While Part One of this book expresses and pin points the Problem, Part Two is devoted to Solutions.

    I am not rating this book on miniscule literary flaws, its far to important of a message to care. Bradshaw's collection of different ideas and methods by other authors and thinkers on the issue shows his passionate search to understanding Shame as well as that he takes a realistic stance that there is no pill formed method for how we face and resolve our past. One of my favorite things about the book is that there's an abundance of solutions and methods to facing unresolved shame in Part Two.

    I've been searching for over a decade for something like this book - and nothing come as close - this is probably one of the most important books I'll ever read....more info


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