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Two More Tapes by Robert Bly

Tape reviews Copyright © 1995, 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

 
The Power of Shame/Audio Cassette ~ Ships in 2-3 days
Robert Bly / Audio Cassette / Published 1992
Our Price: $8.95 ~ You Save: $1.00 (10%)

In this interview with Michael Toms of New Dimensions Radio Robert opens with a fascinating Russian fairy tale "The Frog Princess." How much shame would you feel, having to take your new bride, a frog, out to a public dance? The real value of this tape is his succinct summary of important work on shame. He describes speaking on shame at a menís conference. The response was, "Shame? What are you talking about? We donít have any shame." After he spoke for about three hours, he noticed a powerful shift in his audience. Afterwards, men went to their bunks for hours to cry over the shame they have held, unconsciously, since childhood, and how it has affected their lives. Robert speaks powerfully of being raised in a shame-based family. In a "playful-based" family they have values. If you break them, itís a topic for discussion. In a shame-based family, they have rules. Break them and you feel shame. There is silence, and you then lock yourself into your room. There are many ways we are shamed. In early childhood we can be shamed by voice. "You should be ashamed of yourself!" Our "shame-tanks" fill quickly. Another way is to ask for a response, and not get it. "How do you like my painting?" Reply, "Did you clean your room yet, like I told you?" (Last night, as I was walking across Green Lake, I was thinking I am glad I never did that to my kids!) You feel inadequate, unworthy of attention.

There is also "inherited shame," as in a family where an ancestor was a gambler, had a child out of wedlock, or embezzled funds, and the family enclosed the event in a cocoon of silence. These underground currents come up in you in shame, and you donít even know where it came from. Another is "maintained shame," where shame is internalized into shame cycles. An alcoholic may really be addicted to shame from childhood, and acting in such a way so as to guarantee his needed, regular dose of shame. Robert suspects that his mother may have been a co-dependent, and that his father was the designated one to express the release part of shame for the both of them. There is also shame related to creation of a false self, initially to please your parents, and recognition that you are denying your true self.

Our responses to shame include withdrawal, anger, contempt, transferring it to others (e.g., feeling self-righteous as you shame your children), or striving for perfection, changing shame into blame, or attempting to move into a position of power. The tape concludes with suggestions for dealing with shame constructively.

Reviewed by BHH in M.E.N. Magazine 7/93


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The Red, White, and Black/Audio Cassette ~ Ships in 2-3 days
Robert Bly / Audio Cassette / Published 1994
Our Price: $8.95 ~ You Save: $1.00 (10%)

This tape is another Michael Toms New Dimensions interview. You may remember from Iron John that as the youth participates in three days of tournaments, Iron John provides him with a red, a white, and then a black horse. Robert explored this imagery across many cultures, including African cultures and our earlier alchemical traditions. The results, summarized in this tape, are fascinating. These are the first colors a human child sees. In medieval tales, the hero sees a drop of blood from a wounded raven fall on the snow, and falls in a trance. In Viking mythology, when a hero dies a white, then a red, than a black cock crows.

The moving from red to white to black signifies important changes in a manís life. Michael Meade reports that in the Masai tribes, a boy of 13 or 15 is expected to be in red: angry, prideful, obnoxious, vain, violent -- all the things we put men in prison for, if they donít have an older man to guide him through this stage. When he is 35, he moves into the white stage: peaceful, gentle, without a (conscious) shadow side. Since under the Great Mother tradition the woman moves from white to red in this phase, this makes for interesting marital dynamics! As we get older and move into the black, we call forth and recognize our shadows, and we can have a much better sense of humor about the whole thing.

Reviewed by BHH in M.E.N. Magazine 7/93


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