Thinking about Humiliation

I carry recordings of humiliation, and so do you.

For about a month I’ve been using nearly all my sessions, short and long, to discharge on and think about humiliation: my humiliation and yours. This is a report on what I’ve learned: about how to be a client who is determined to discharge humiliation, and how the world looks now that I have discharged some of it.

My working definition of humiliation is for us to accept––or conclude––that anything about our inherent self is not good or right. Being humiliated means being subjected to conditions in which our being, our thinking, our loving, our feeling, or our actions are criticized as not measuring up to a standard that is, in fact, irrational (and built into all oppressions). Recordings of humiliation deeply confuse our love for ourselves, our knowing that we deserve complete respect at all times, and our knowing that we are completely lovable. After we accumulate sufficient undischarged recordings of humiliation, we internalize them and begin to tell ourselves that we ought to be ashamed of who we are and hide that as best we can. We assiduously guard ourselves by developing patterns of behavior designed to avoid any situation in which fresh recordings may be installed or old recordings may be restimulated. To a large degree we go numb. Inside of this numbness we live in fear of ever having to feel those feelings again, so painful is their memory. The numbness can persist even in the face of encouragement to show those feelings and to feel them, since the recordings say that that is exactly what is never supposed to be done. This is the way it was for me.

While the very early recordings of humiliation were being set in (and persistently reinforced thereafter), we were also being hurt in ways that left recordings of fear, grief, rage, and other profound distresses. These, too, need to be acknowledged, felt deeply, and discharged on directly.

Like the beginnings of all work on chronic distresses, which are by definition operating all the time and without our awareness, the first contradiction1 is to acknowledge that it exists and to feel the feelings that are there, undischarged.

It is a contradiction for me to say I was humiliated, and to feel the humiliation. The phrase I’m using is “They stomped on me.” My feelings, my goodness, my wanting, my loving, and my humanness were all stomped on, from the minute I was born and through all my days as a young person and as a young adult.

What I wanted and what I thought were not welcomed. They were ignored and criticized and made fun of. It hurt me deeply to have that happen, day after day. And then it hurt more to come to understand that no one, not one person, wanted to hear about the hurts, wanted to know that I was humiliated. The humiliations were great in number, and they were multiplied in effect by not being allowed to show them. All of this left undischarged recordings of humiliation.

The oppression of men does not permit men to show their humiliation. This is one way that most men––Gay, straight, Bisexual, or whatever label they were forced to choose—are victims of Gay oppression. The message is “You are no kind of man if you ever show any of this. If you show this, you will be treated severely, perhaps killed.”

I’ve concluded that all of us, male and female, are humiliated from the beginning. Adults unintentionally insult us many times every day, beginning in the minutes after we are born. In RC we understand that humans are born expecting humanness. We are born expecting warm, loving, sustained, and reliable contact with other humans. In a recent session I realized that when I was born, I was exhilarated to see humans for the first time. After being inside a human, and hearing humans, there they were! I was humiliated for this exhilaration—by it not being acknowledged, or reciprocated. I was soon surrounded by humans who had more pressing things to do than to look at me lovingly and hold me, for hours on end.

I now see many of the strategic efforts toward re-emergence in RC in recent years as attempts, intended or not, to assist in the discharge of humiliation. It is curious to me that they have not been labeled as such. We have been exhorted“that there is never any reason for you to feel bad about yourself again.” We are now working on recovering from our early defeats. It is now so perfectly plain to me that we feel bad about ourselves in large part because we were humiliated. It is now so perfectly plain that our early defeats often included recordings of humiliation. It is humiliating to carry recordings of humiliation. It is humiliating to carry recordings of any distress. The recordings of humiliation just piled on.

In the RC movement to liberate Jews, many of the strategies have, to my mind, been intended to assist in the discharge of humiliation. But again, they have not been labeled as such. At the center of anti-Jewish oppression is the profoundly hurtful and humiliating idea that Jews do not deserve to live. At the center of every oppression is the profoundly humiliating idea that that particular group is less than.

The recent clarity about male domination is also directly connected to humiliation. To be dominated in any fashion is to suffer humiliation.

In my RC experience, showing humiliation has not been fully welcomed. In my observation, the recordings of humiliation have been a Community-wide chronic distress. I am not saying we have been unaware of humiliation, or of how to work on it, but that we have not discharged enough of it to understand how deeply it has been warping all of us, all of the time. The chronic has been befuddling. I could not understand how we could still feel so bad about ourselves—even after so many years, so many sessions, and so much good work in the wide world. I think a key reasonis that we have not worked directly enough on the recordings of humiliation. Long ago we decided to never feel that bad again, and we have succeeded, managing to avoid feeling that bad even in our sessions.

Soon after I learned how to Co-Counsel, I encountered young people who were being raised by parents in RC. I noticed that they were different, but I couldn’t have said why. As the years went by, I continued to notice this difference with other young people “raised in RC” and also noticed that I felt some humiliation around them. I now theorize that I felt humiliation because they did not carry humiliation in the way that I did. It felt humiliating to carry humiliation around someone who did not have those recordings. I theorize that if you grow up with parents and other adults who are intentionally trying to treat you with full respect (even if they sometimes fail), and who (probably) manage to avoid aiming the more insidious forms of humiliation at you, then you do not suffer the same forms (or intensity) of humiliation that I do.

I’ve also noticed over the years that I consistently felt humiliation around certain men. It took the form of immediately losing interest in anything they had to say, wanting to cut the conversation short, figuring out how to avoid them in the future, and so on. I now think that those men showed their humiliation in a way that restimulated mine. Now that I’ve discharged directly on my humiliation, I’ve seen a softening in my restimulation. I have more patience with these men.

HOW I'VE DISCHARGED ON HUMILIATION

Here’s how I’ve been discharging directly on my humiliation. This work began by my telling someone that I was feeling humiliated. The person was a Co-Counselor, but at the time I was not a client. I was answering a question the person asked outside of session. They inquired about my well-being, because they noticed I was not functioning so well. Fortunately, they did nothing to discourage me from telling them, in some detail, why my functioning was diminished. Since then, my sessions on humiliation start out in different ways, but they have in common that I tell the counselor that I am going to work on humiliation, that I’m going to put my mind right on it. Usually I say that after I’ve talked around the humiliation for some time, but occasionally I begin the session directly on it.

In order to put my mind directly on the humiliation, I need the counselor to be quiet and patient. Anything they say restimulates the recording that “no one wants to hear about it.” I get my mind on the humiliation by deciding to do that, and then I go to a place where I know I was humiliated. Sometimes it’s an incident, sometimes it’s just a feeling from my childhood, and sometimes I imagine an incident that would have been humiliating. When I get to that place in my mind, I begin to cry, and the crying is different than the other crying I’ve done. (I’ve cried deeply about such things as my parents dying suddenly, the Holocaust, and other losses.) It’s tighter––and even deeper. Sometimes it’s so deep that I am afraid to sustain it and I back off. I have gradually gained attention for that and have been able to stay there longer, and I am now comfortable with crying really hard. The discharge of humiliation deepens if I describe, in detail and with complete honesty, the depth of my hurt. Sometimes all I have to say to keep the crying going is, “I was humiliated” or “They stomped on me!” I emphasize that it was done to me (the person talking), not some theoretical young person or even that handy persona we call “the young person downstairs.”2 It is a contradiction to point out that I am the person who was humiliated. Me!

The early work directly on humiliation must be mostly just feeling it, since that is what we are not supposed to do, and what we decided never to do. Feeling humiliation is not pleasant, but it’s not damaging. Now that I’ve discharged it some, the layer of humiliation about having been humiliated has lifted, and it’s easier to get to the root recordings. I don’t mind feeling those.

No oppression could survive long-term if its targets did not already carry humiliation or were able to discharge any fresh attempts to install it. The oppression would immediately begin to wither as more and more people realized that they were no longer feeling bad about themselves. For the survival of the oppressive system, it has been imperative that these distress recordings remain in place. Perhaps this explains why it has taken a while for us to see the chronic pattern operating everywhere, including in our Community.

Now that I have discharged a good amount of humiliation, I have more attention for the feelings of those I am with. I am less interested in getting them to feel “better” and more interested in encouraging them to feel whatever they are feeling, as deeply as they can manage. I tell them I want to know how “bad” they are feeling and patiently persist in encouraging them to show it, even in the face of their resistance.

The discharging I have done to date has left me in an unfamiliar but very welcome place: I rarely, and then only barely, feel bad about myself. I still feel bad about some things, but I do not aim those feelings at myself.

I propose that each of us, as oppressor and oppressed, immediately begin to look directly at our humiliation and to feel it. Doing this will initiate the erasing of this scourge, and our work to enable the re-emergence of all humans will speed up significantly.

Jay Raymond
Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, USA


1 Contradiction to the distress
“The young person downstairs” means our young self.


Last modified: 2017-04-06 16:01:36-07