We turned the page into 2022 and suddenly the acknowledgment of the shame that has been foisted upon us for the past 2 years is everywhere.
As I am writing this, a news alert popped up on my phone: “Whoopi Goldberg stunned by testing positive for COVID: ‘I’ve done everything I was supposed to do.’” Earlier this week, a friend shared an article from American Thinker titled, “Shame as a Covid Strategy.” Later that same day, I logged onto Facebook and saw a post from the Autoimmune Protocol Diet talking about shame being at the root of disordered eating (here’s some recent research to go along with that thought — Nechita et al. 2021). Another article in the same day was talking about CNN’s editor-at-large Chris Cillizza saying, “But I do think societally we unknowingly turned having Covid into some sort of judgment on your character.”
We certainly have done exactly that and we don’t yet know what the ramifications are of such a mass, unjustified shaming.
Did you know people are being put in special camps in Australia when they test positive for Covid, (Cave 2021), or have a friend who tested positive (Barkoukis 2021) or where they wait until they can prove they don’t test positive? (Dixon 2021). We, in the US, thankfully, still have the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but we no longer have healthy until proven sick.
Germs are gonna germ. Viruses are gonna virus. There is very little you can do to keep those germs and viruses from getting to you. (There are things you can do to keep those germs and viruses from taking hold of you, but that’s a whole other topic.) We don't segregate people because they may have other contagious diseases (unless they are being treated in a hospital). For the first time, to my knowledge, people are being blamed and shamed for getting cold and flu-like symptoms as a result of having contracted Covid.
Once upon a time, if you were unable to attend a social gathering because you had the flu, the automatic reaction on the other side was sympathy. That automatic reaction is now full of aspersions. I find this very sad.
Frederickson (2020) describes the difference between guilt and shame: guilt refers to a deed; shame to our being — “I am a bad boy” as opposed to “I did a bad thing”. He goes on to talk about shame being triggered in therapy sessions as a result of suffering “crippling shame over possessing universal, human desires or flaws.” This is most likely why shame has been such a useful tool to maneuver the population in regards to Covid — everybody has experienced shame and it is an easy ploy to manipulate behavior. Shame is ubiquitous. Show me someone who has never felt shame — I don’t think it’s possible to find someone who has never felt shame.
What exactly is shame? My then 3-year-old once said to me, "My body feels like it did something wrong." I think that's an excellent description of how shame feels. Technically, though, “shame” has two definitions as a noun in the Oxford Dictionary (Oxford University Press 2021): 1. A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. 2. A regrettable or unfortunate situation or action. As a verb: make (someone) feel ashamed.
Tell me, what, definitionally, could possibly be shameful about “catching Covid?” The shame and stigma and shunning that people have suffered over the last 2 years simply because they, or a family member, were diagnosed with or tested positive for Covid is simply shocking.
Cândea and Szentagotai-Tăta (2018) found that “external shame (perceived negative evaluations of others) seems to be more strongly associated with social anxiety symptoms than internal shame (negative self-evaluations)”.
Philosopher Jean Paul Sartes points out that a mild embarrassment in one can induce mortification in another (Lyons et al. 2018). If shame is not dealt with, it can have damaging consequences. Deep-seated shame plays an important role in many self-destructive ways. We saw above that it plays a role in eating disorders. Shame is also linked to psychotic experiences, particularly paranoia (Carden et al. 2020).
It is not my intention to equate the societal Covid shaming to the deeper shame which some people carry with them. However, we don’t know how this newest layer of shame may affect the population. When society lays a blanket of shame over huge numbers of people (especially without true justification), many will likely be adversely affected by that shaming. Again, we simply don’t know what the ramifications of these last two years will be but a recent Telegraph article may tell us a little about what may be headed our way: "Number of children admitted to hospital for eating disorders surges 70% since pandemic." Is shame to blame for this increase? We don't yet have that answer but I wouldn't be surprised to see those dots connected at some point in time.
The Lancet’s Stories of Shame notes that doctors don’t talk much about shame (Lyons et al. 2018). Psychiatrist Aaron Lazare said, “it is shameful and humiliating to admit that one has been shamed and humiliated.”
Doctors may not talk about shame, but homeopaths do. Homeopathy recognizes the destructive force that is deep-seated shame.
Referencing Murphy’s repertory (n.d.) shows us the rubric: Mind - SHAME, ailments from. Front and center in the 9 remedies listed is Staphysagria, in bold-type and underlined.
Homeopathic Staphysagria is made from a tincture of the seeds of the Delphinium plant, also known as Larkspur.
We know Larkspur from Greek Mythology. Ajax the Great was unable to live with his shame, and in anger he fell upon his sword and the Larkspur flower sprang from his blood (Greek Legends and Myths; Theoi Greek Mythology).
C.M. Boger (et al. 2008) talks about the morbidly sensitive person who is easily offended in regard to one who could benefit from homeopathic Staphysagria. Which came first? Did that extreme sensitivity result from the shaming or was the sensitive person highly susceptible to the shaming? "Sheepish, sensitive, imagines insults.” The person who could benefit from Staphysagria is worse for emotions, chagrin, vexation, indignation and quarrels. Let’s be fair here. Who is actually better for these? True, but when differentiating homeopathic remedies this person would be markedly worse for experiencing these circumstances. There are plenty of people who can roll with some embarrassment or chagrin, but the person who would most likely benefit from homeopathic Staphysagria is not that person.
Staphysagria is also known as “a great germicide” and it has been used allopathically as well as homeopathically, to treat lice (Vicentini et al. 2018; Choudhuri 2016; Farrington 2018; Tyler 2003), a condition which most certainly can historically be considered “shameful”.
Physically speaking, aside from treating lice, homeopathic Staphysagria is known to help with surgical wounds (Alecu et al. 2007). "Incised wounds, it is the best remedy … where there is a clean cut as after surgical operations" (Tyler 2003, p. 767). "Similarly, after surgery when the tissues have been 'lacerated' there is a great sense of violation … and Staphysagria is one of the first remedies to consider (Pitt 2015, p. 362).
Tying back to shame is the connection of words which can "cut deep." Humiliation, insults, shameful attacks -- they all can cut deep and have a wounding effect on a person and their well-being.
Don’t accept the responsibility of carrying somebody else’s shame because you, through no fault of your own, contracted a highly transmissible virus. Put that silly idea away!
However, if you or someone you know is dealing with deep-seated shame, humiliation or suppressed anger, please consult and work with a professional homeopath.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Alecu, A., Alecu, M., Marcus, G., Brezeanu, R., and Cojocaru, A., 2007. Effect of the homeopathic remedies Arnica Montana and Staphysagria on the time of healing surgical wounds. Cultura Homeopática, (20), 19–21.
Barkoukis, L., 2021. Australia Is Throwing People Who Don’t Even Have Covid-19 Into Internment Camps [online]. Townhall.
Boger, C. M., Bradford, T. L., and Tiwari, Shashi Kant, 2008. Boenninghausen’s Characteristics Materia Medica & Repertory With Word Index With Corrected & Revised Abbrrevations & Word Index. accessed through Radar Opus software. B Jain Pub Pvt Ltd.
Buck, H., 1997. The Outline of Materia Medica and a Clinical Dictionary. accessed through Radar Opus software. B Jain Publishers.
Cândea, D.-M. and Szentagotai-Tăta, A., 2018. Shame-proneness, guilt-proneness and anxiety symptoms: A meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders [online], 58, 78–106.
Carden, L. J., Saini, P., Seddon, C., Watkins, M., and Taylor, P. J., 2020. Shame and the psychosis continuum: A systematic review of the literature. Psychology and Psychotherapy [online], 93 (1), 160–186.
Cave, D., 2021. Australia Is Betting on Remote Quarantine. Here’s What I Learned on the Inside. The New York Times [online], August 20, 2021.
Choudhuri, N. M., 2016. A study on materia medica : an ideal text-book for homoeopathic students. accessed through Radar Opus software. Noida, U.P., India: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Dixon, R., 2021. I finally made it home to Australia. Washington Post [online], May 22, 2021.
Farrington, E. A., 2018. Lectures on Clinical Materia Medica in Family Order. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, LTD.
Frederickson, J., 2020. Shame: The Disavowal of Our Shared Humanity. Psychiatry [online], 83 (1), 33–35.
Greek Legends and Myths, n.d. Ajax the Great in Greek Mythology [online]. Greek Legends and Myths.
Lyons, B., Gibson, M., and Dolezal, L., 2018. Stories of shame. The Lancet [online], 391 (10130), 1568–1569.
Marlee, S., 2022. CNN’s Chris Cillizza just discovering Covid shaming; Twitter reality-checks him hard · American Wire News [online]. American Wire News.
Nechita, D., Bud, S., and David, D., 2021. Shame and eating disorders symptoms: A meta‐analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders [online], 54 (11), 1899–1945.
O’Brien, T., 2022. Shaming as a COVID Strategy [online]. www.americanthinker.com.
Oxford University Press, 2021. Oxford Dictionary of English. 188.8.131.52 ed. Oxford University Press accessed through mobisystems.com app.
Pitt, R., 2015. Comparative materia medica : integrating new and old remedies. San Francisco, California: Lalibela Publishing.
Theoi Greek Mythology, n.d. PLANTS & FLOWERS OF GREEK MYTH 1 [online]. www.theoi.com.
Tyler, M. L., 2003. Homœopathic drug pictures. New Delhi, India: Indian Books & Periodicals Publishers.
Vicentini, C. B., Manfredini, S., and Contini, C., 2018. Ancient treatment for lice: a source of suggestions for carriers of other infectious diseases? Le Infezioni in Medicina[online], 26 (2), 181–192.
Further reading on shame:
Ellenbogen, S., Colin-Vezina, D., Sinha, V., Chabot, M., and Wells, S. J. R., 2018. Contrasting mental health correlates of physical and sexual abuse-related shame. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health [online], 30 (2), 87–97.
McElvaney, R., Lateef, R., Collin-Vézina, D., Alaggia, R., and Simpson, M., 2021. Bringing Shame Out of the Shadows: Identifying Shame in Child Sexual Abuse Disclosure Processes and Implications for Psychotherapy. Journal of Interpersonal Violence [online], 088626052110374.
Seidler, Z. E., Rice, S. M., Kealy, D., Wilson, M. J., Oliffe, J. L., and Ogrodniczuk, J. S., 2021. Men’s Shame and Anger: Examining the Roles of Alexithymia and Psychological Distress. The Journal of Psychology [online], 1–11.
Shaughnessy, M. J., 2017. Integrative Literature Review on Shame. Nursing Science Quarterly [online], 31 (1), 86–94.
Further reading on Covid death rates:
Berezow, A., 2020. COVID Infection Fatality Rates by Sex and Age [online]. American Council on Science and Health.
Ioannidis, J. P. A., 2020. Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data. Bulletin of the World Health Organization [online], 99 (1), 19–33F.
Mahase, E., 2020. Covid-19: death rate is 0.66% and increases with age, study estimates. BMJ [online], m1327.
Salzberger, B., Buder, F., Lampl, B., Ehrenstein, B., Hitzenbichler, F., Holzmann, T., Schmidt, B., and Hanses, F., 2020. Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2. Infection [online].
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.