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The Soul of Shame

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About the Author

Thompson is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and his main focus of clinical and research interest has been the integration of psychiatry, its associated disciplines and Christian spiritual formation. He is actively engaged in learning and teaching as he supervises clinical employees and facilitates ongoing education groups for patients and colleagues. He also speaks frequently on the topic at workshops, conferences and retreats. Serving as an elder at Washington Community Fellowship in Washington, DC, his duties have included preaching, teaching and participation in the fellowship's healing prayer ministry. He and his wife Phyllis, a licensed clinical social worker, are the parents of two children and reside in Arlington, Virginia.


"Under the rapid-fire pace of modern life, Dr. Curt Thompson provides laser focus to the dynamics of the human soul and especially the crushing weight of untreated shame. With the heart of a pastor and the training of a surgeon, Dr. Thompson excavates layers of shame and then demonstrates their life-destroying aspects when left untreated. His training in psychiatry and medicine and his love and commitment to the life and spirit of Jesus uniquely qualify him both to diagnose and treat the ailment while pointing us to the one and only source of true life. Every individual who suffers under the weight of shame will benefit from this important book."--Gayle D. Beebe, president, Westmont College "Though shame often exerts hidden, destructive power over us, The Soul of Shame invites us to find freedom with each other and in God's story of love for us. Curt Thompson weaves together experience, insightful stories, science and Scripture to invite us into a story of healing and flourishing together. This excellent book will help to guide my thoughts and relationships for a long time."--Kent Annan, author of After Shock and Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle "Curt Thompson has written a book that is both truthful and honest: honest about our self-diminishment and truthful about alternatives. He is a shrewd observer of human reality and reads the Bible in knowing and compelling ways. The result of these qualities is a book that is potentially transformative and emancipatory for many readers. An important byproduct, in my reading, is the recognition that the church has spent much too much time on the issue of guilt. The move from guilt to shame is a move from rules that may smother to relationships that may hurt but that also have the capacity to heal. This is a wise book that knows about our present tense and our possible future."--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary "As a wise man once testified, 'The worst moment in life is when you get everything you ever wanted and discover that it's not enough.' As Curt Thompson so clearly and compassionately demonstrates, it is this insidious not-enough-ness that embodies the very soul of shame. Anyone who longs to break free from the shackles of shame will find a wide array of valuable tools within the pages of this book."--David Williams, general superintendent, Evangelical Friends Church "There is a beautiful freedom in moving without fear into the science of the mind and soul. To assume that God is good, that his word and work in the world are real, and then to assume that there is much to know about the physical science behind his work is, to me, a thing of honest beauty. I am blown away by Dr. Thompson's ability to so completely integrate the narratives of science, faith, the ever-raging battle between good and evil and the human experience. In addition to my own struggles, I can think of several close friends whose shame-filled narratives cause much heaviness and sadness. I am inspired by this book to continue to carry my 'stuff' into the light, and to help others do the same."--Sara Groves, singer-songwriter "There may be 'no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, ' but many of us don't behave that way. Read this excellent guide for unearthing the things in your own life that are preventing you from being set free."--Rob Moll, editor at large, Christianity Today, author of What Your Body Knows About God "I've been waiting for Curt's book for fifteen years. As a pastor, professor and clinician, I see shame's devastation firsthand, particularly in the destructive coping mechanisms that accompany it. Curt doesn't offer quick fixes but instead provides a biblically wise, scientifically sound vision for a life lived in God's grand story, a story that renarrates our shame stories and enables us to experience healing and engage in mission. I'll be recommending this book often!"--Chuck DeGroat, associate professor of pastoral care and counseling, Western Theological Seminary, cofounder and senior fellow, Newbigin House of Studies "This is a challenging but profoundly life-giving book that teaches us, using many fascinating stories from Thompson's work as a psychiatrist, how to relate to our inner world of thoughts, emotions, and body sensations to the intriguing findings of contemporary brain science, and above all to the biblical story of God's longing that we live openly in the light of his love, delight, and grace. Thus new stories are told."--Richard Winter, Presbyterion, Fall 2015 The Soul of Shame will empower pastors and counselors to see that shame is a root issue to most challenges we face in our fallen world. It's a must-read if one wants to be serious about caring pastorally for the Lord's people."--Brad Hoefs, Outreach Magazine's Resources of the Year, March/April 2016 "Who would want to embark on an expedition into the unknown and painful regions of our own soul where evil has caused disharmony and disintegration in body, brain and heart? But this is what Curt Thompson invites us to do. Like a skillful surgeon encouraging us through a difficult but necessary procedure, he works to set us free from our old stories in which shame holds us captive to the common, core fear of having our inadequacies exposed. Naming that fear is the road to healing and hope, not only in our own soul but also in our marriages, families, communities, churches and places of work. This is a challenging but profoundly life-giving book that teaches us--using many fascinating stories from Thompson's work as a psychiatrist--how to relate our inner world of thoughts, emotions and body sensations to the intriguing findings of contemporary brain science, and above all to the biblical story of God's longing that we live openly in the light of his love, delight and grace. Thus new stories are told."--Richard Winter, psychotherapist, professor of practical theology, director of counseling, Covenant Theological Seminary "Through a masterfully woven blend of psychology, neurobiology, theology and real-life stories of patients he's known, Thompson charts a path through the shadowy territory of shame and leads us out the other side to hope and healing. The message here is a dose of good news for all of us who are thirsty for freedom from shame's insistent voice telling us that we are not enough. It turns out that the path to that freedom is paradoxical--as we trust enough in God's love to face the very vulnerability we fear, shame is cut off at the knees. Read this book and discover a story about who you really are that will lead you to increasing freedom and wholeness."--David A. Schrader, Full Circle Group "I believe (especially after having read through to the very end of this remarkable work) that these insights from a psychiatrist and neuroscientist is just what we need to help us see the exceptional relevance of Biblical truth for daily living. In Thompson's hands, Bible verses come alive, the over-arching redemptive drama makes palpable sense and frames our experience, and God's well-ordered structure of creation--the human brain!--is demystified so we can actually learn to manage what seem like instincts or default reactions."--Byron Borger, Book Notes, September 14, 2015 "With the discerning eye of a wise therapist, Curt Thompson shows that shame is not just a consequence of human sin but also a toxic 'emotional weapon' that stands at the root of sin, distancing us from God, from others and from our own place in God's beautiful and good creation. But Thompson reminds us that in Christ, God wants to heal our shame. Shame tells us that we are unworthy and unloved and that we should retreat and protect ourselves. But the gospel frees us to be vulnerable and therefore to be rescued from shame, because we are known and loved by the one who assumed our shame that we might enter into his joy. If you experience shame--which is to say, if you are a human being--then this book bears good news for you."--Warren Kinghorn, Duke University Medical Center and Duke Divinity School "First and foremost, Curt Thompson is a wise, kind and generous guide through the foul thicket of shame. No word or topic sends people hiding more readily than shame, yet it is the brooding, merciless killer of joy in all our lives. Curt weaves biblical wisdom, neuroscience research and powerful stories into a covering that doesn't hide our shame but enables us to name what is keeping us from freedom and wonder. This is a magisterial work--thoughtful, compelling and transformative."--Dan B. Allender, professor of counseling psychology and founding president, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology "This book is timely, unique and relevant. It is well researched and logically structured. Curt Thompson's wisdom, professionalism and experience as a preeminent psychiatrist and neuroscientist shine through new material and pertinent real-life stories. The book is unique because it doesn't just propose theory and questions but offers answers, explanations and solutions. This is a theological work--the very premise of the book is about the 'soul' of shame, and this makes it exceptional. But above all else this is a human book--it is about every one of us and what we see and feel and how we react. It will change the lives of all who read it...It is destined to become a benchmark in the discussion on shame."--Scott Milne, businessman, marriage coach, New Zealand "It took me a month of foraging before my heart finally yielded the courage I needed to open this book on shame. After all, I've spent most of my life trying to flee from shame, crouching pathetically as its shadows drew near, surrendering helplessly to its merciless story of who I am. Why in the world would I now--on purpose!--turn and face the central menace of my entire life? Why would any of us? Here's why: because God loves us. And because God loves us, he follows us in our fleeing, finds us in our shadows and fashions for us a new story--the true story--of ourselves, a story in which we are not finally hated and cast away, but loved and welcomed in. This is what Curt Thompson taught me in this book. Yes, I opened it with fear of the darkness. But with each chapter, I felt like someone had opened a new window in my soul, taming my fears with new shafts of warm light. I read it with hope. I marked it with tears. I finished it with gratitude. And I commend it to anyone burdened by shame with something like pleading: Come out from hiding; it is not shame but Love that you will find!"--Gregory Thompson, senior pastor, Trinity Church, Charlottesville, VA, executive director, New City Commons "You might not expect this to be a faith and work book, but it's amazing how much shame plays a part in our work. It's 'the emotional weapon that evil uses to (a) corrupt our relationship with God and with each other, and (2) disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity.' Thompson's stories, which range from the personal to the professional, illuminate how shame causes us to isolate and alienate ourselves from one another. Yet his stories also have the power to expose shame in our hearts and in our relationships. This is a beautiful and hopeful book that's both intellectually and emotionally moving."--Bethany Jenkins, The Gospel Coalition, "TGC Editors' Picks: Top Books of 2015," December 2015 The Soul of Shame will empower pastors and counselors to see that shame is a root issue to most challenges we face in our fallen world. It's a must-read if one wants to be serious about caring pastorally for the Lord's people."--Brad Hoefs, Outreach Magazine's Resources of the Year, March/April 2016

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