The Escape from Shame
In the first part, of the model, he describes the experiences of deep shaming that occur in childhood that lead to parts of the true Self being exiled, suppressed, sometimes banned even from consciousness. In the second part, he describes a psychological adjustment to this process led by the question “Well, what do I need to do around here in order to be accepted and loved?” The responses to this question become the compensation mechanisms that help us get through life with a belief that we are valuable enough to be included in our community. This is a survival-mechanism: It is hard-wired into us as human-beings to ensure we are not ostracised because it can jeopardise our well-being so much to be isolated.
Over the course of many years or decades, we can become so identified with our compensation mechanisms that we may confuse them with our selves. In “The Velvet Rage” we read descriptions of gay men as sometimes being stuck emotionally in a perpetual adolescence of people-pleasing, sometimes very alienated from our own wishes, needs and longings. He writes: “The acquisition of validation is so rewarding that we become validation junkies. The more we get, the more we crave it, the better we feel and the harder it becomes for us to tolerate invalidation…. Explore the finest of anything in this world and you will always find gay men clustered around the helm…. In fact, in our rush to achieve validation, we run roughshod over the subtleties that lie within us, and choose instead to grab the nearest and brightest flag that will draw the attention and, hopefully, validation of the world around us.” The survival-mechanism of approval-seeking can alienate us so much from ourselves that even once we are in environments later in life where acceptance might be possible, we are so rehearsed in doing what others expect that we are clueless about our own needs.