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Marian, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 116
Experience:  M.Sc. Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, UK National Health Service
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Im a woman of 55. My confidence was shattered at 15.I know

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Im a woman of 55. My confidence was shattered at 15.I know all the reasons and have dealt with the whys aand forgiven the perpertrator. Ifelt incredible indescribable shame at myself. At 55 I still feel it and so my belief in myself is zero even though I know Im beautifulcaring and compassionate(But I self sabotage myself everyday) How can I stop the self loathing for something that wasnt really my own fault. It panics me to meet someone.It has crippled my life yet Im intelligent. Ive read every self help book been to psychologists and my soul is in pain with self disgust. I do things that make me feel worse and while Im doing them Iam completely consciouse of what Im doing. Why cant I get of this nightmare
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Marian replied 5 years ago.

I'm so sorry to read of the pain you have suffered for all this time. I believe this is a problem that can be eased, it may never go completely but it is possible to lessen it's severity and effect. It is difficult to be specific in advice without having done an in person assessment, however there are two types of help which I feel you may benefit from.


You have great insight into your problems which no doubt has come from your own strength of character, your courage and from the counselling and self help. There are many types of psychotherapeutic approaches, many of which have merit in their own right, some are better for specific problems than others.


Self loathing (or shame) is a specific type of problem from a psychotherapeutic point of view. It is usually closely associated with self criticism and a lack of ability to be self compassionate and to self soothe in response to ones own distress. A specific form of help for this problem is compassion focused therapy. Here is a book by one of the leading researchers in this field:


I usually advocate self help but depending on the severity of the problem, self help for shame based problems is sometimes not sufficient on it's own. The difficulty is that self compassion can actually feel really uncomfortable for the harshest self critics and a more direct, emotional route is often needed to develop the skill. This may include visualisation and use of imagery.


There are two things in your favour, which make it more likely that treatment would be effective. Firstly you know logically that the shame is not justified, that it was not your fault. Secondly, you are able to show compassion to others.


The other issue I wanted to mention was the panic you feel on meeting others. If I were seeing you in my clinic, before I embarked on any other work, I would want this to be thoroughly assessed. It's not uncommon for people who have the particular set of problems you have described, and who have suffered from sexual abuse, to be suffering from a panic reaction due to anxiety in social situations with others. This is an echo of the past trauma, activated by uncertainty or fear. The shame comes with it as an after-effect. Again, the treatment for this type of problem is fairly specific. Often I would start with the treatment for the panic/trauma and then move on to more compassion focused work.


As I mentioned at the outset, this advice should be taken as suggestions for avenues you may wish to pursue rather than specific diagnosis as an assessment is needed - I would recommend that you have one with a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist but it is important that you find one who has some knowledge and experience of treating shame based problems through the use of compassion focused therapy.


Please don't give up, for your sake but also for your family. You've come so far, this isn't the best your life can be, so please keep trying to find someone to help take you on the next step of your journey.

Edited by Marian on 1/2/2011 at 1:02 PM EST
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