by Peter Breggin, MD
March 14, 2015
What are the worst pollutants you are likely to encounter in this lifetime?
Lead poisoning from exposure to paint dust as a child in an old home? Chronic exposure to food additives and genetically modified foods?The accumulating effects of air and water pollution, and the hole in the ozone layer? Psychiatric drugs, alcohol, marijuana and the other intoxicants we put into our bodies?
I have called psychiatric drugs the greatest chemical pollutants of all. Psychiatric drugs are especially dangerous because in high concentrations they attack our brain, and hence our mind and spirit.
Yet there are another kind of pollutants – emotional ones that drive us to take brain-damaging psychiatric drugs. These emotional pollutants cause depression and anxiety. They lead to our accepting psychiatric diagnoses. They make us fail to achieve our goals and to enjoy our lives. They attack our mind and spirit, our capacity to be productive and to find happiness.
We know these emotions by the names guilt, shame and anxiety. We joke about them and sometimes admit to having them. But all of us have difficulty recognizing them and their bad effects in our own lives. When we learn to identify, reject and replace them, everything in our lives changes for the better. It can be like coming out an antiquated shaky black and white movie into a brilliant high definition color movie with enlivening surround sound.
If you have been told that you have a biochemical imbalance, clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD or ADHD – it is almost certain that you are in reality suffering from the effects of guilt, shame and anxiety. If you can learn to identify and to overcome these self-destructive internal impulses, you can live a diagnosis-free and drug-free happier life.
Biological evolution builts guilt, shame and anxiety into your body eons before you were born and then childhood experiences activated and enforced these emotional reactions before you were old enough to know what hit you. I have given the name negative legacy emotions to the emotional inhibitions buried inside our genes and our childhoods. Nature built them into us in order to restrain our violence and willfulness in our intimate, family relationships, but in our adult lives they do more harm than good.
Guilt, shame and anxiety are primitive, instinctual emotional reactions that evolved over millions of years before human beings developed sophisticated cultures, higher levels of psychological understanding, or rational ethics. Then they were activated in childhood before we could reason, understand or even recall what was happening to us. We were not able as children to say to ourselves, “That’s guilt,” “That’s shame,” or “That’s anxiety” – and “I don’t have to let these awful feelings overcome me or drive me to do things that I don’t want to do.” We can learn to do that as adults.
Even with intensive psychotherapy and self-help efforts, we may never recall enough of our childhood to know exactly how these emotions were activated, but recognizing them and knowing that their origins are primitive can help us to separate from them and to leave them behind. They are baggage from biological evolution and childhood that we no longer need.
Because they are so primitive, guilt, shame and anxiety should not be used as moral guidelines for how to live our lives. They were built into us in such a gross manner that they could be passed on genetically. They were elicited and shaped in childhood in a haphazard and irrational manner. When we feel guilty, it does not mean we deserve it. When we feel ashamed, we do not have to withdraw or get angry. When we feel anxious, we do not have to believe we are doomed. We can see the origins of these self-defeating emotions in biology and childhood, and work toward freeing ourselves of them.
These negative legacy emotions tend to suppress our ability to be aggressive and self-assertive regardless of the merits of our goals, ambitions or desire. Commonly, they inhibit the most sensitive and important aspects of our humanity – our ability to be creative and to love. Leaving them behind opens us up to our full potential.
My new book about negative legacy emotions is called Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions. The first part describes the biological evolution of our negative legacy emotions, including how and why they came about. It explains why they are so flawed and ultimately so self-defeating that they can backfire by driving us into irrational states of aggression or self-suppression. The second part of the book shows how to identify these emotions in order to reject their influence. It provides simple questionnaires to identify guilt, shame and anxiety and their harmful effects upon us. It also shows us how to identify the chronic anger and emotional numbing that these emotions can cause. It offers charts to compare harmful and helpful emotional responses. The third part demonstrates how to overcome and to triumph over these inhibitory emotional reactions in order to find the emotional freedom to live the kind of lives we really want to live.
Imagine living life without guilt, shame and anxiety. It means leaving behind any psychiatric diagnoses that you have been given, and replacing them with self-understanding. It allows you to reject the emotional junk from the past and instead to tap into your positive emotional and spiritual capacities, and to achieve more and to enjoy your life more than you ever imagined.
Originally published on Natural News.