Can Shame Attacks Be an Effective Technique?
What makes you feel embarrassment? Maybe you hate when a neighbor drops by unexpectedly and sees that your house hasn’t been cleaned recently. Maybe you fear looking silly on the dance floor so you avoid dancing at all costs. Now ask yourself a second question: What would happen if you purposefully exposed yourself to something that caused embarrassment? What if you went to your friend’s wedding and danced in the most ridiculous way you can think of for one song? How might you feel the next time you attempted to dance regularly?
Albert Ellis calls this practice—purposefully doing something that causes distress, embarrassment, or anxiety—a shame attack. The purpose of this technique is to demonstrate that what a person says to himself/herself during the activity will actually lessen the embarrassment. You might have observed in the Week 1 REBT demonstration that Albert Ellis has a humorous and distinctly colorful personal style. Shame attack exercises are one example of various types of homework exercises that Ellis developed to expose clients to distress and embarrassment as a means of overcoming irrational thoughts by disputing those beliefs. They are designed to help the client experience and change her or his beliefs about the emotional consequences of another person’s perceptions.
For this Discussion, you are asked to imagine yourself in an embarrassing situation. (You do not have to actually carry out the exercise.) What constitutes a shame attack situation will be different for everyone. You might imagine being in a grocery store and walking a stuffed pet on a stick, or singing on a public bus or train, for example.
- Imagine placing yourself in a situation where the type of shame might be slightly embarrassing.
- As you conceptualize your situation, consider what fears or irrational thoughts you might have about the situation before it occurred. Then, consider what you might say to yourself to make the event bearable.
With these thoughts in mind:
Write a 1-2 page description of your imaginary “shame attack.” What did you say to yourself to make the exercise bearable? What did you learn from this exercise?
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources. Use proper APA format and citations.
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