Shame often plays an important role when a person is developing and/or has developed a drinking problem. In the first clip here, David McCartney describes how shame was part of a major epiphany in his life. He was asked by a woman if he would see her brother and talk about his drinking problem.
On the way home after seeing her brother, David stopped to buy a bottle of whisky at one of the many places he bought his alcohol. Whilst waiting to pay, he turned around and saw the patient’s sister standing behind him. She wasn’t to know that David would drink most of the bottle that night, but he did. His response to his feelings of shame was to drink. However, this event was part of the process which would eventually lead to him asking for help.
In the process of recovery, David realised that he needed to address the things that were fuelling his shame. He realised he was condemning himself for having led a life that was morally not acceptable, when he should be saying to himself, ‘Actually, you were quite vulnerable.’
One of the reasons why David wanted to change career from being a GP to becoming an addictions doctor was that he wanted to make amends for his past behaviours during the time of his problematic drinking. He points out that this was still a bit tied to the shame.
The photograph here is taken from the article Overcoming the Paralysis of Toxic Shame by Bernard Golden which appeared in Psychology Today.