With the first unified theory of guilt, shame, and anxiety, this pioneering psychiatrist and critic of psychiatric diagnoses and drugs examines the causes and effects of psychological and emotional suffering from the perspective of biological evolution, child development, and mature adult decision-making. Drawing on evolution, neuroscience, and decades of clinical experience, Dr. Breggin analyzes what he calls our negative legacy emotions—the painful emotional heritage that encumbers all human beings. The author marshals evidence that we evolved as the most violent and yet most empathic creatures on Earth. Evolution dealt with this species-threatening conflict between our violence and our close-knit social life by building guilt, shame, and anxiety into our genes. These inhibiting emotions were needed prehistorically to control our self-assertiveness and aggression within intimate family and clan relationships.
Dr. Breggin shows how guilt, shame, and anxiety eventually became self-defeating and demoralizing legacies from our primitive past that no longer play any useful or positive role in mature adult life. He then guides the reader through the Three Steps to Emotional Freedom, starting with how to identify negative legacy emotions and then how to reject their control over us. Finally, he describes how to triumph over and transcend guilt, shame, and anxiety on the way to greater emotional freedom and a more rational, loving, and productive life.
About the Author
Peter R. Breggin, MD, has for many decades led successful efforts to reform the mental health field and to promote empathic therapies. His scientific work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and diagnoses. He has authored dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books including the bestsellers Toxic Psychiatry (1991) and Talking Back to Prozac (1994, with Ginger Breggin) and more recently, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (2013).
“[An] engrossing self-help guide.... 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.” —Publishers Weekly
“Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety is brilliant, clear, hopeful, inspiring, and rooted in science. It should be read by every person seeking freedom from painful emotions or trying to help others—no exceptions!” —ROBERT NIKKEL, MSW; former Oregon commissioner of mental health and addiction (2003–2008); member of the executive committee, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care
“A thoroughly original discussion of what Peter Breggin calls ‘negative legacy emotions,’ the leftovers from humanity’s evolutionary past that no longer serve adaptive functions. Breggin takes his readers on a step-by-step journey to help them replace these negative emotions with life-affirming attitudes that will enhance love and well-being. If you think that nothing new can be said about the human condition, read this book; it is filled with unique insights and procedures that can transform its readers, their lives, and their relationships. This is a work of breathtaking originality—and usefulness.” —STANLEY KRIPPNER, PHD, coauthor of Personal Mythology, professor of psychology at Saybrook University, and winner of the 2013 American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Humanistic Psychology
“A new theory on negative emotions lies in these pages. If you take it in, it will change both your life and your view of yourself and your relationships. Arising from Peter Breggin’s nearly eighty years of life experiences—scientific, clinical, and personal—this book culminates in a very personal reflection on the primacy of love and the possibility that every person can become a source of love. Provocative and even startling at times, it is beautiful, poetic, and inspiring.” —DOUGLAS C. SMITH, MD, psychiatrist and clinic director, St. Anne's Center
“Breggin captures the essence of the human condition by intertwining wisdom, insight, empathy, and brilliance. A must-read....” —JEANNE STOLZER, PHD, professor of child development at University of Nebraska–Kearney
“From the first page, I felt an emotional response that brought me to tears, knowing this is a book we all have been waiting for. It is for every one of us who have emotions we struggle with. It’s a great testament to humanity—a groundbreaking work in wisdom and conceived in love.” —MICHAEL CORNWALL, PHD, Jungian/Laingian therapist, Esalen conference leader, and blogger for Mad in America