Healing the Shame that Binds You: Recovery Classics Edition (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:

  • Sensitive, probing study of toxic shame
    John Bradshaw has written a thorough, concise guide to victims who suffer from toxic shame, in order to help them identify the shame they are feeling and then to alleviate and eliminate that shame. An all-intrusive emotion, toxic shame can devastate a life, destroy marriages, and leave the suffering victim alone and confused. Bradshaw has drawn a road map for these victims to help themselves find the way out of the endless cycle of shame and guilt that surrounds their lives every single day. Since he is also a victim of childhood abuse, Bradshaw has a keen insight into the haunting terrors of being ashamed of your family because of alcoholism, drug dependence, sexual abuse...he covers it all. This book is a must-read for the adult who has been raised in a traumatic setting. Healing the Shame that Binds You is a life-line to victims, and can be the first step on the road to recovery from toxic shame and other psychological problems brought on by dysfunctional family situations....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
  • Review of the AUDIO CD version - NOT the original book.
    I want to be clear that I'm writing only about the 4-hour audio CD condensed from the live version of Bradshaw's toxic shame workshop. The CD set is not a "book on tape" version of "Healing the Shame that Binds You." It contains much of the same information, but is given in a very different format.

    I'm going to put aside opinions on Bradshaw's ideas, which many people find very insightful and helpful, and focus here on the presentation. In short, the presentation is awful.

    First of all, the sound quality is abominable. It sounds as if the recording was made with a cheap portable cassette player. There is plainly audible tape hiss on the CD. You can tell when Bradshaw is moving around, or when he turns his head, as the sound level drops off or picks up in relation to his proximity to the recorder. No post-production seems to have been done at all, even when the transfer to CD took place, except for the occasional jump when the group took breaks. Those jumps are irregular and amateurishly done. There are pauses at inappropriate times, such as a 30 second period of silence after Bradshaw asked for a lighting change. Then during some periods when some silence, or a break, would have been appropriate (such as during meditations), there was just an abrupt jump to the next segment.

    Bradshaw repeats himself unnecessarily, and seems to be somewhat disorganized in the way he presents the material. The workshop was a weekend-long event, and the CD's are condensed down to four hours, so this might not have been so glaring to the original participants, but it made it difficult to stay with him listening to the CD's. If I had been able to take notes as I listened, I probably would have gained more, but I listened to them while driving. In fact, if I had been able to sit and take notes, I probably would have chosen to re-read the original book rather than listen to this.

    Finally, I have to take issue with the $100 price tag. This product was so sloppily put together that I can hardly believe the cost of production was any more than that of a hardcover book. One would think, at this price, that they might have re-mastered or possibly re-edited the original tapes to make a more polished, organized and listener-friendly product, but alas, they did not. I look to all self-help/recovery gurus with a somewhat suspicious eye, and what I got for my money in this case did not help my opinion of Mr. Bradshaw's motives.

    For those with an interest in this book, I recommend that you find a copy of the paperback version, which was expanded and updated for a 2005 re-release, and leave the audio CD version alone. You'll be better served, and you'll save $90....more info
  • I did not like it at all. I think it was very bad
    I think the content was horrible and everything was false. I belive the writer is not very good one, and the book seems to not understand the problems we are all going through....more info
  • Ready to change?
    If I could read only one book of this type, this would be the one. The first half of the book helps you uncover how much shame is threaded throughout your existence and day to day living. The second half helps you learn what to do about it. Don't stop in the middle and make sure you have a lot of caring support if you read this. But I highly recommend it if you are ready to grow!...more info
  • Change My Life
    What happened to the review I just wrote?...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

  • Very enlightening
    What a great book on understanding myself, my family and significant others in my life. A good friend gave me his copy. Now I am buying 5 books for my friends....more info
  • Get the dictionary!
    This book really helped me start the healing process. I came from a dysfunctional home and didn't realize it until just recently! It is a great start, but do have the dictionary handy, as some of the words are technical!

    I have to say, these self-help books should be written for the "average" person to be able to read and understand without the technical words!

    Do us "shamed" people a favor and write the books so we can read it without looking up a word and rereading the sentence to make sense of it!

    But all in all, it is helpful in understanding myself and my "feelings."

    I also have the book, "Facing Shame." I haven't read it yet, but I will keep the dictionary handy, just in case!

    Good luck to all of you who are trying to heal your inner-self!...more info

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Saved me
    Quite simply this book saved my life. No, I wasn't an addict nor in a 12-step program, but I was in a spiral of which I couldn't pull out. A psychologist friend gave me this book to read and, when I finally and reluctantly did, I couldn't put it down.

    No book alone is going to solve your problems, only you can do that. But it will help you understand "why" some things are the way they are and help you formulate a plan on dealing with it.

    It didn't happen over night for me, it took a few years of hard work, but today I'm a very different person who can look himself in the mirror without being ashamed. This book helped me create a road map that I was able to follow....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Stars Come and Go, But Bradshaw Still Shines!
    Even though John Bradshaw's star has waned and has been replaced by Dr. Phil's stardom (a good behavioral therapist), "Healing the Shame That Binds You" remains a classic "Know thyself" book.
    As the first-born son of an alcoholic father, I felt the need to fill some emptiness inside me with high academic and professional achievements, like Bradshaw himself. But "Healing the Shame" helped me see the wisdom in James Taylor's song "The Secret of Life" ("is enjoying the passage of time / It's okay to feel afraid / But don't let that stand in your way / Planets spinning through space / Welcome to the human race").
    "Homecoming" is a good companion to "Healing." I also recommend Charles Whitfield, Alice Miller, and one of my current super novas Daniel Goleman ("Emotional Intelligence") Thanks, John, for putting me on a non-type-A healing path....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
  • 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
  • Incredible insight and compassion
    He brings together a lot of information which makes so much sense. He gives very workable solutions. His style is easy to read and understand....more info
  • Hit home
    I was amazed at the clarity of what Bradshaw wrote and how I could relate to it. So many things make more sense now. I'm not saying that it fixes you, that still requires personal work, but it sure did explain alot of my own behavior....more info
  • Will You Love and Accept Yourself for Doing That?
    This is a powerful question to ask youself, and those around you, in the face of self-defeating thoughts and comments.

    I thought I had converted every shame-wound from my childhood into empowering habits, ones that guide me to solve my biggest problems ---until I reread this book.

    The first time that I read this book, 7 years ago, I was so glad to have a name for the shame-wounds that I kept recreating in every aspect of my life.

    And once I had a great definition, and many examples of how I not only experienced shame, but also recreated it, I taught myself to respond to my experiences, instead of reacting to them.

    But what was missing, in all of these years was someone to mirror my evolved self.

    John Bradshaw points out that we who have come from a shame-based childhood need a circle of people who mirror are needs, wants and beliefs, because it was people, our primary caretakers, who passed on to us their disowned shame.

    Even though I have read so many books, and have evolved so much, I have had the opportunity to recognize in rereading this book that I need to be witnessed by a circle of people, which I will call my adult family -- without that recognition we all stagnate.

    Years ago, I couldn't phathom joining such a group, for 3 reasons:
    1. I have no chemical dependencies;
    2. I feared that baring my soul to a body of strangers would
    mean that I would be permanently humiliated and ashamed;
    3. I didn't recognize my need to heal my financial wounds.

    Well. Thanks to this book I have found that courage to be more visible to a group who positively contributes to part of my journey. I've also healed so well that even if I bare my soul to someone who is toxic, someone who won't be able to compassionately respond to my authenticity, reading this book has helped me to see that I am more than my dark sides.

    I advise anyone reading this book to do so, with pen in hand. And ask yourself what it would be like to grow, while you are visible to people who are free to allow you to be visible to them.

    With understanding and appreciation of toxic shame, you will process all of your emotions, and love yourself for that.

    Thank you, John Bradshaw....more info

  • this is one of the most helpful books i have ever read.
    i have trouble with low self-esteem. this book has helped me to see why i have low self-esteem. i have enjoyed this book more than any book i have ever purchased...more info
  • For All Those Living In the Shadow of Shame...
    Many suffer from the damaging effects of Toxic Shame. A little-explored subject, it causes one to feel defective from the core of one's being. The roots of shame come from abuse and dysfunctionality in the family and early socialization in school. People then tend to measure their worth against external standards and feedback and when it is negative or lacking, can feel a devasting loss of self. Whether perpetrated on an overt or covert level, the damaging effects can last a lifetime, leading people into mental illness, addiction, and crippling disfunctionality.

    Bradshaw gives a diagnostic and thereapeutic vocabulary to those who desperately need it. Some people are shamed by the same people over and over again (ie: spouses and family) and need the tools with which to cope. Based on the twelve-step paradigm, Bradshaw shows us how to recognize the signs of toxic shame and how to (with the help of a therapist and/or healing community) eventually overcome it....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
  • Shame is shame
    When the author describes the damage of shame he is right on. However, he describes shame as a normal healthy emotion. It is not. He describes 'toxic shame' as the unhealthy emotion. Shame, straight from Webster's: 1a. A painful feeling brought about by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace. b. Capacity for such a feeling 2. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. There isn't anything normal or healthy in that definition. Yet, the author creates the illusion of a 'healthy shame.' As long as the reader stays true to shame as 'not healthy' and disregards any imaginary reference of 'healthy shame,' 'Healing the Shame That Binds You' has insightful views in the realm of shame....more info
  • Taking the healing process to the next level.
    Healing The Shame That Binds You is an integral read for anyone going through a recovery process. The concept of shame is intangible and esoteric, which makes this book a harder read than some of the more popular self help books, but Bradshaw's work is a classic for a reason. Bradshaw provides an understanding of the pain we carry from the past, the role we take on early in life to control others' emotions, how we continue to live life through others, how this dynamic contributes to depression, and how we can break the cycle. The end of the book overviews a number of tools we can use to further understand 'the shame that binds us'. While I wouldn't recommend Bradshaw's book for anyone new to recovery, it's highly recommended to those who are looking to take their journey into self-realization to a new level and looking to become more intimate with their deepest emotions and difficult memories in order to heal....more info
  • Coverting Shame to Guilt and the Curative Nature of Love
    This book is a classic. The two points that I related to the most were:
    1. That 12 step programs convert shame to guilt and then work through the guilt.

    2. That someone who knows everything about you and still loves you can heal you with love (as Mr. Bradshaw notes in his dedication to his wife)

    Great book.

    Doug BeyLoving an Adult Child of an Alcoholic...more info
  • Hits the nail on the head
    A truly excellent book. The author writes with insight and clarity and really identifies the feelings and implcations of 'shame'. It becomes apparent that a lot of other feelings could more accurately be appropriated to shame. Highly recommended....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
  • 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


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