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Editor’s Note: Shame, Shame
By Kate Jackson
Social Work Today
Vol. 23 No. 2 P. 4

Everyone’s experienced it to one extent or another—shame—that queasy, deeply uncomfortable awareness that we’ve done wrong, have been inadequate, have behaved poorly, and are being criticized for it. We sense we’ve disappointed ourselves, disappointed others. We feel exposed, humiliated, and under the glare of the world’s opprobrium and the weight of our own self-rebuke. We want, simply, to crawl under a rock.

Brené Brown, who’s studied shame for two decades, calls it “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging—something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” What it needs to flourish, she says, are three things: secrecy, silence, and judgment.

Although shame is universal, some individuals are more prone to feeling it than others, and, according to researchers, they’re more likely than others to have low self-esteem. What’s more, they’re at increased risk for other behavioral health issues such as anxiety disorder and depression.

As Meredith Gordon, LCSW, observes in her feature article in this issue, it’s crucial that social workers cultivate a shame-sensitive practice to help patients who internalize these destructive feelings.

Also in this issue are features addressing how LGBTQ+ individuals are affected by military service and what policies are needed to protect them, a new paradigm of substance use treatment, and how PTSD in police officers may contribute to violence against Black Americans.

In addition, look for articles on the ways social workers can help clients who struggle to get adequate sleep, the moral courage it takes to call out injustice, the prevalence and treatment of eco-anxiety, and advanced degree programs that emphasize social justice.

— Kate Jackson