The Roots of Shame and Guilt

Presented by:

Dr. Laurence Heller, Ph.D.
NARM Creator & Senior Faculty, NARM Training Institute

This course will not include CEs. Our upcoming recorded live events will be available here free for members and non-members who register for them, as is the case here. Members and event registrants can use their discount code to watch this event for free.


The roots of lifelong feelings of toxic shame and guilt are often found in the distress states caused by early developmental and shock trauma as well as direct shaming communications from parents. Children, not able to know themselves as “a good person in a bad situation,” experience early trauma as a personal failure, feeling that there is something wrong with them. Later negative beliefs about themselves such as “I am bad ” is built upon the early somatic sensation: “I feel bad.” On the level of identity, shame and guilt become the basis for crippling identifications and self-judgments that can last a lifetime. Understanding that shame and guilt have more to do with environmental failure than with personal failure has helped many people see themselves in a new, more compassionate way. Additionally, there is an intergenerational component where parents shame their children in similar ways to when they were children. This shaming dynamic is internalized, then turned against the self and passed on to the next generation.

The Main Points of This Workshop:

  • Toxic vs. Healthy shame and guilt
  • Shame and guilt as psychobiological processes
  • Shame based identifications
  • Identity and the nervous system

Participants will learn:

  • Toxic shame and guilt vs. healthy shame and guilt.
  • Shame and guilt as psychobiological processes not just psychological defense mechanisms.
  • Shame is a process, not just a state. We will explore in detail how adults continue the shaming process.
  • Shame-based identifications are actually reinforced by pride based
  • Counter identification


  • Presentation
  • Q & A
  • Overtime discussion (after the event formally concludes)

Course Curriculum

  Video and Resources
Available in days
days after you enroll

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