shame re-visited

May 22nd, 2016

This weekend the Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles hosted Stewart Aledort, MD who is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and leader in the national group therapy community for a 2-day conference on the Power of Shame. His model has been compiled and synthesized through many decades of leading groups, and his expertise and command of the audience was very impressive. His lectures and demonstration groups illustrated how Dr. Aledort focuses on the power and excitement of shame which he calls the passionate bad fit (based on early misattunements). As a result, he theorizes that we tend to hold on tight to these familiar yet often destructive patterns.

In group therapy he helps his patients reveal and identify these passionate bad fits which often results in a phase of feeling lost and uncertain without the bad fit. If the individual can hang in there at a time of deep uncertainty and loss of identity, longer-term healing is possible. Through the experience of building trust and loving, nurturing relationships in group, eventually an individual will move toward dependable, satisfying relationships–sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

In addiction recovery the highest likelihood for relapse is soon after the addictive process is identified and ended. The newly-sober person has lost their identity and feels lost and needs to tolerate and endure this uncertainty to move toward more sustainable sobriety. Leaning into the love and reaching out for help from emotionally-reliable people is essential in the same way a group provides a sanctuary for this process to be more successful and less likely to relapse into the old destructive patterns.

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