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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”


Thank you for your beautiful concise answer Dr. Slattery, and for Jung’s words that no process of individuation can begin without an initial crucifixion. Thank you also for your generous time accorded to my simple question.  If I may ask another question.  You write, “(shame) It can arise from feelings of unworthiness, of being dirty, of being enslaved to many forms of addiction.” Indeed so. That is the inner shame. What about the outer shame? The one where societal institutions inflict shame on the individual, as in ordering psychotherapy for young children without some good cause, as the judicial system is known to do in cases of juvenile delinquency. Instead of getting to the root cause of the issue, the courts appoint a psychologist to probe and label the already traumatized child. The reasons vary. In some cases it’s to shame the child and the parents, and in some cases to demonstrate control, and of course many other reasons too. These children are often very bright, not marked with innumerable mental and emotional  deficits that the courts demonstrate.

The very term Juvenile delinquency is a term used for a  young person who has committed a criminal offence. Referring to a young child as delinquent, hence a criminal, is tantamount to shaming him/her. There are countries that are trying to refine the term because there is  recognition of harm done to the young just by labelling thus. This sort of shaming by institutions is quite problematic. Scandinavian countries  have worked hard to move away from harsh labels because of the overall damage such shaming causes. The UN has used the phrase ‘children in conflict with the law’ to describe the situation with school attendance and has urged others to use these  terms with care.

Quoting Shultz on outer shame, “Shame in the presence of other people, gives us the impulse to run away and hide. We don’t belong, we don’t deserve to be here, we are no good. We are exposed, to be condemned and expelled from the others, be they individuals, groups, or the whole human race. We are cast out, alone, and cut off, and the cause of our dismemberment is our own deficiency or deformity or constitutional inadequacy, perhaps our exhibitionism.”

Delinquency trials in court rooms end up hurting young children by  publicly  shaming them in front of a large number of people. My view is that juvenile delinquency does not belong in court rooms, but requires a civil discourse between teachers, student, parents and  guardians.  The young mostly need compassion, not shame. Your thoughts?

Thank you very much