Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions
By Peter Breggin, MD
Overcoming Our Most Painful and Disabling Emotions
Guilt, Shame and Anxiety offers a wholly new unified understanding of guilt, shame and anxiety as negative legacy emotions that have no role in our mature lives. It offers the three steps to emotional freedom—toward a life where you will give more to yourself and to everyone you touch.
This book shows you that your negative emotions actually have nothing to do with who we really are. They were built into us by biological evolution, and we certainly had nothing to do with that. Then they were elicited, directed and amplified in childhood, usually before we can even remember, and we had nothing to do with that either. Guilt, shame and anxiety are literally “prehistoric” because they were built in by evolution and driven home in childhood when we had little memory or understanding of what was going on.
As adults, guilt, shame and anxiety serve no useful purpose. They are prehistoric and even stone-age in origin. We can learn to identify them, to reject them, and to replace with sound values and loving relationships. This book can help you to transform your life to a new psychological and spiritual level, one more satisfying than you may have ever imagined for yourself and your loved ones.
Breggin captures the essence of the human condition by intrinsically intertwining wisdom, insight, empathy, and brilliance. A must read for those seeking a fundamental understanding of how negative emotions impact parenting practices and developmental outcomes in children
Jeanne Stolzer, Ph D, Professor of Child Development, University of Nebraska- Kearney
Peter Breggin has long been doing important work in his critique of the medical model of “mental illness.” Now he is taking on another challenge that is equally important: replacing the biomedical models with social/emotional ones, with emphasis on the degree of empathy and social connectedness that binds us together as human beings.
Thomas J. Scheff, PhD, Professor of Sociology, University of California-Santa Barbara. Author, Bloody Revenge and coauthor, Emotions and Violence.
A new theory on negative emotions lies in these pages. Is it provocative and even startling at times. If you take it in, it will change your life, and your view of yourself and your relationships. It arises from Breggin’s nearly 80 years of life experiences — scientific, clinical, and personal. It culminates in a very personal reflection on the primacy of love, and the possibility that every person can become a source of love. It is beautiful, poetic, and inspiring.
Douglas Smith, MD, Psychiatrist, Alaska
Peter Breggin is perhaps the most compassionate and empathic person I have ever met and what amplifies his brilliance and impact is that as a leading expert on the medical side of psychiatric suffering, he could take so many points of view that would be less than the greatness that exudes in his immense ability to convey understanding and explanation of conditions that could otherwise be treated in dismissive, cold and clinical ways.
This book reflects the depth of his compassion and the breadth of his empathy. Dr. Breggin is an amazing man on an amazing mission to defy current medical wisdom with a wisdom that is sacred and comes from a most loving heart and a most brilliant mind.
Howard Glasser, Creator, The Nurtured Heart Approach
This engrossing self-help guide from psychiatrist Breggin (Guilt, Shame, Anxiety) relies on a speculative account of how human evolution still affects our emotional well-being today. Breggin’s premise is that many emotional problems stem from the conflict between two central human impulses rooted in evolution: the need for intimacy and a propensity for aggression. He goes on to argue that the three titular emotions served early humans by bridging these two impulses, inhibiting the most incendiary emotions so that familial and societal relationships could survive. By this reasoning, those people with the highest capacity for self-restraining emotions were those who survived and passed on their genes. Breggin thus intends to help readers free themselves of these no longer necessary, negative “legacy” emotions. Criticizing the main run of self-help tomes as inconclusive, Breggin claims that it is indeed possible to willfully oust guilt, shame, and anxiety from our emotional repertoires. He proceeds to show how negative legacy emotions are exacerbated by developments in language and childhood trauma. Breggin conveys empathy and maintains a clear, conversational tone while spelling out his prescriptions for overriding destructive impulses in a variety of real-world situations.