Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness


Preparing for a conference workshop is typically done at a desk with a stack of books researched next to you, or behind you if you’re in the library or have a voluminous library of your own.

In my case, it so happens, I’m getting the bonus of doing workshop preparations in a front row seat of every day life, my own life, as I’ve been going through an unexpected & unscheduled manic episode (also known as mania) that’s a part of my diagnosis for having a mood disorder, as referred to in my previous blog post.

1st Honor Shame Conference

The timing is quite amazing, really. The Honor Shame Conference already has 130 registered and might nearly double that (my hunch) before the registration desk opens on June 19, 2017. I particularly like how the organizers have a creative pricing structure, where the earliest registrants get a discount rate, and then the rates go up as more people get registered. Instead of the artificial deadline of “super early bird” or “early bird discount” or “discount code”, this is real-time discounting of the you’d-better-get-registered-now-before-someone-else-does if-you’d-like-a-discount-today flavor.

While the main stage speakers are mostly non-Asians, there’s a good diversity mix of Asians and non-Asians in the workshop lineup. (not going to read into this as Asians having a harder time talking about shame than non-Asians) At the moment, the listing for the conference workshops list is sorted by alphabetical order of last names, and that’s the reason I’m listed first. (Someone named Chan or Cho can easily displace me, though I don’t know if they’re taking any more conference proposals; yes, it could be Francis Chan nor Eugene Cho, who knows, right?)

Crafting the Workshop Title

And a little background to how I crafted the workshop title. I’ve heard in academic circles, they like using the word “towards” as a means of pointing towards the trajectory of a topic or subject. With only one hour to cover the workshop topic, I would only scratch the surface, anyways; plus, just got conference prep guidelines from the organizers today, so they’ve suggested 30 minutes presentation + 30 minutes discussion. That’s my preferred mix for how I do workshops, when I’m given the opportunity, so happy to comply.

As for erasing shame, I think it’s not something that can be totally erased, nor should it be. There’s an intricate connection between honor and shame, so to erase shame might risk the eradication of honor? I’m not a scholar on this subject, but eager to learn more at this upcoming Honor Shame Conference.

Shame on Missing Out on Shame in the Bible

Sadly, even though 2/3 of the world is steeped in honor-shame cultures, much of Christianity is only developed in Western Eurocentric worldviews that speak to guilt-based cultures. On top of that, 40+ years of research show that shame has far more negative effects than guilt. Sure, guilt and legal metaphors are mentioned in the Apostle Paul’s writings in the New Testament, but you know what, so is honor and shame!! All over the Bible! When was the last time you did a word study or heard a sermon on shame?

[ed.note: the website linked that has a search engine for keywords in the Bible doesn’t work in all browsers; if I can find a better alternative, I’ll update the “All over the Bible” link]