SCHEMA 4: The burden of shame

How’s your mental health?

I’m interested to know how each of us can make our lives better by understanding the thought patterns that influence our behaviours and feelings about ourselves.

This is Part Four in a series of blog entries on schemas: a term from psychology and cognitive science which describes an organised pattern of thought or behaviour.

Schemas can help us in understanding the world, and people can organise new perceptions into schemas quickly.

The fourth ‘maladaptive schema’ I’m going to reflect on is Defectiveness/Shame.


This refers to the feeling that you are defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important ways.

You might also feel that you would be unlovable to significant others if exposed.

This might involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame.

It might manifest as self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding your perceived flaws.

These feelings can be overwhelming if not addressed.

They might come about from a lack of affirmation or healthy validation from parents, or as a result of perfectionistic parents who always demanded the impossible.

A person struggling with this schema might feel they can never measure up to others’ expectations, and they might be terrified of being exposed for who they really are.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)




    1. I’m glad, Debbie. I was hoping they weren’t too dry! There are 18 of them if you want to google the rest – I’ve been finding them helpful to reflect on. Thanks for reading. I hope you and your loved ones are well.

Comment on this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s