Understanding Embarrassment

Embarrassment is a painful but important emotion. It makes us feel bad about our mistakes so that we don't repeat them, and one of its side effects—blushing—signals to others that we recognize our error and are not cold-hearted or oblivious. Shame, a related emotion, can be felt even when no one knows about a slip-up. Guilt tends to focus on what one has done, rather than who one is.

Recent Posts on Embarrassment

The Deepest War Wound May Be the Anguish of Moral Injury

By Nancy Sherman Ph.D. on April 28, 2015 in Afterwar
That the military code—never abandon a buddy, bring all your troops home, don't put innocents at risk—is impossible to meet doesn't always register deep down. The result may be shame, and all too often suicidal shame.

Bruce Jenner, You Are Not Alone

If you've ever felt like a human being imprisoned in the body of a human doing, say "Aye"

Please Let Me Act out on My Sugar Addiction in Peace

By Anna David on April 21, 2015 in After Party Chat
Those who consider themselves sugar addicts but then quit never tire of lecturing other sugar consumers about the dangers of that white powder. Why can't they just let us leave us alone with our cookies?

How We Frame Emotions Through Facial Expressions

How our faces express emotions is a moving window into our minds.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

By Vyv Evans Ph.D. on April 20, 2015 in Language in the Mind
What accounts for the hullabaloo surrounding the publication of The Language Myth. Is Chomskyan linguistics a form of intellectual fundamentalism? And is language science in the throes of a paradigm shift? It's certainly beginning to look that way!

How Brian Williams Can Earn Back Trust

Can Brian Williams earn back trust? Yes, he can if he follows the 4 H's and 4 R's.

Developmental Dislike of Parents During Early Adolescence

One function of adolescence is to grow parent and adolescent apart. Dislike of parents is part of what allows this social separation to occur. Most important for parents to remember is that this loss of liking for parents does not mean any lessening of of adolescent love.

"Burn Book": An App for Bullying

For those over 30, or without teenage children, the term “Burn Book” may have no meaning. 0thers will recognize it as the iconic Treasury of Nastiness from the movie Mean Girls. Now it has become an app—one that enables anonymous bullying in specific, selected communities:

Fear of Intimacy and Closeness in Relationships

By Hal Shorey Ph.D. on April 18, 2015 in The Freedom to Change
Being in a relationship with someone who shuts down emotionally when times get tough is no fun. It’s also no fun to try your best only to have others accuse you of not being emotionally available. Learning where these avoidant personality styles come from can help you cope more effectively with stress in your relationships and have a more rewarding experience.

What Causes You Inner Turmoil?

Being in heated conflict not with others but with yourself can—let’s face it—be agonizing. To be split down the middle, to endlessly waver between two (and sometimes more) options, can at its worst be almost unimaginably distressing. Obsessive to an extreme, it can lead to a paralysis of will (not to mention, much lost sleep). . . .

Coachella, King Kong,Tom Hardy's Bare Private Parts & PTSD

By Anneli Rufus on April 17, 2015 in Stuck
He's photographed Brad Pitt, Naomi Watts and other superstars, but his early work as a war-zone photojournalist left Greg Williams with PTSD.

How The Politics of Memory Affects Us All

By Sam Osherson Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 in Listen Up!
How our society remembers history affects our sense of identity and well-being. The current controversy about remembering the Vietnam War trickles through families up to the present day, and shapes what kind of future our children will encounter.

Body Punishment

By The Book Brigade on April 16, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Obsessive-compulsive disorder takes many forms, but all of them involve repetitive behaviors that often create vicious cycles of anxiety and shame. Maggie Lamond Simone punished herself to maintain a public face—until the same disorder was diagnosed in her child. Only then did the healing begin.

Parental Warmth: Simple, Powerful, and Often Challenging

Amidst all the chatter about parenting styles and techniques, it is easy to forget about the importance of warmth. This overlooked dimension is found to be critical to child development in study after study, so why don’t we give it the attention it deserves?

Smartphones for Dummies—and Young People

You've hemmed and you've hawed, but finally you've given in and bought your child a smartphone. Now, the challenge begins: how do you ensure that he or she uses it wisely? Here are 10 guidelines to promote respectful, responsible use of your child’s new gadget.

Unloved Daughters and the Pain of Mother's Day

By Peg Streep on April 14, 2015 in Tech Support
While for many children, Mother's Day is one of true celebration, it's a day to be gotten through, survived, or ignored for others. Why is it that we continue to look away from an unpleasant truth: that, sometimes, Mother's Day hurts?

Breaking Good

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 in All About Addiction
Coming face to face with your own shame and emotion about the past can be hard. This is me trying to do it in public.

When a Sociopath Is Hell Bent on Destroying You

By Carrie Barron M.D. on April 13, 2015 in The Creativity Cure
Sociopaths (anti-social personality, psychopath) can decimate a life. The mental, emotional or physical trauma can be stunning. The aftermath of sociopathic is unique because the assault instills a dim world view, a shaky sense of safety and a feeling that one has been visited by evil. Here are 16 points of focus to begin recovery.

The Emotional "Trials" of Trial Independence (ages 18 - 23)

For many last stage adolescents (18 - 23) independence can prove too much of a good thing when they flounder in so much freedom, become stressed out, and experience emotional crisis as a result. At this juncture, parents can be of help.

Asian Parenting

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on April 11, 2015 in Minority Report
Asian parents are often very attuned to taking care of their children's physical needs (i.e. food, shelter, finances for education) yet the emotional support can be lacking. Here's what parents can do to be more attuned to their children's overall health.

Your Ultimate Self-Care Assessment (with resources!)

Self-care is more than bubble baths. It's about how you approach each aspect of your life. Below are different categories of self-care with questions designed to help you reflect on how you're doing in each area. This isn't a tool to make you feel guilty. Approach these questions with gentleness and curiosity. Resources follow the questions. Enjoy!

Are Women More Emotional Than Men?

Is There Evidence of Women’s Greater Negative Emotionality All Around the World?

The Making of a Murderer

From poverty to riches, serial killers to gang members, behind almost every violent person, there is a story of despair. Not every trauma creates a killer, but most killers are created from trauma.

Bullying: A Case Study Revisited

They delighted in their own cleverness, and in their ability to get many uninvolved bystanders to sing a chorus as they waited in the food line. In other words, the humiliation of one girl became a popular bonding experience, and ad-libbing new lyrics was a way to get positive peer attention.

How to Shift Unwholesome Thoughts

We can develop new skills at any age, especially with mindfulness training. Here are three techniques to help you shift painful afflictive thoughts & feelings.

A Meditation on How Moral Injuries Heal

By Nancy Sherman Ph.D. on April 09, 2015 in Afterwar
Many soldiers don't easily volunteer the word "guilt." They'll instead choose "fault" and "responsibility."

When Did “Victim” Become a Bad Word?

Our culture discourages people from acknowledging and/or talking about a victim's suffering. Many people feel embarrassed when they feel bad.. It’s as if they’ve done something wrong—as if their personality or their character has failed them in some way. It’s no wonder that many victims believe that to acknowledge their pain and suffering is to “feel sorry for themselves.”

Just Boy Banter or Tween Mean?

Tween boys are particularly prone to running in packs, complete with alpha and beta males. Similar to the queen bee who likes to hold court, alpha males are known to challenge and test the betas who surround them. There is of course a difference between playful teasing and bullying.

Why Inappropriate Laughter Is Often Contagious

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 08, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
The worst case of inappropriate laughter I've ever seen—can you resist giggling when you see it?