Shame is the ghost in the machine of the human mind. It can implant itself in the psyche before the first word is spoken, even before the first thought has formed.


In his groundbreaking book, The Science of Shame and Its Treatment, psychotherapist and author Gerald Loren Fishkin, Ph.D., addresses the genesis of shame and self-talk from an empirical analysis of their core elements, its insidious ingress into conscious thought, and the havoc it inflicts on a person’s self-worth and behavior.


Through his empirical analysis and understanding of toxic shame, Dr. Fishkin has identified multiple effective clinical approaches for its treatment and addressing

shame-based behaviors. He clearly outlines why contemporary treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, do not treat core shame wounds and most

often cause individuals to terminate the therapeutic process prematurely.


This book is a must-read for clinicians, addiction specialists, teachers, students

 of human behavior, Author Radio Tour counselors, social workers, and

patients in treatment.






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     Originally, some of the terms and ideas in the Science of Shame and Its Treatment disturbed me because I took them out of context and a perspective where at first, reading the book was like looking in the mirror and not recognizing my reflection. Now, I've come to terms and know and embrace the person on the other side of the mirror. I am responsible for my own actions, I make my own choices. I do not blame a neglected inner child or the war that was my parents marriage. When it comes to me, I am in charge. But, The Science of Shame and Its Treatment has put into perspective my tendency to self-sabotage and self-loathe. I understand why I am my own worst enemy and my own best friend.

 - Lee Gooden



     This is an intriguing and thought-provoking little book about the little voice in our heads that whispers (or shouts) that we are just not good enough... the voice of shame. Shame, according to the author, is different from guilt, in that guilt is a feeling of wrongness about something one has done whereas shame feels that way about who one intrinsically is. Shame begins in infancy, even pre-verbally, when some trauma or abuse from a trusted caregiver leads a child to feel that they are not good enough to have the love and care they require but lack. However, compassion-based therapy, which helps explore patients’ childhood trauma, can bring healing and wholeness.


     There is much to ponder in this book. Readers will appreciate the knowledgeable but accessible writing style that avoids jargon while staying firmly rooted in good science. It is easy to understand, but relatively little is said about the treatment aspect. This is understandable, as the author’s point is to convince a therapist audience that shame is not treatable through common behavioral modification therapies, but for lay readers it leaves one feeling rather hopeless that anyone can escape shame’s irrational but controlling mandates.



 - Gretchen Wagner

Reviewer for

author and psychotherapist