Therapist Pens Book On Shame

Staff Writer

Janice Gaunt knew she wanted to write a self-help book for her
Patients. The Ironic thing, said the Preston Hollow therapist, is that the manuscript she had in mind was about shame. And from the get-go, Gaunt shamed herself out of ever getting started. Now the memory makes her laugh - hard. “I literally sat up in bed one night,” Gaunt said, “and thought, ‘I know what it is! I need to sound smart!.”
She shook her head, still grinning. “That,” said Gaunt, “was my shame.”

Once she snapped to, out came The Shame Game, a 240-page, inherently readable softcover from Brown Books. It’s Gaunt’s first, she’s a little giddy to admit, and it imparts loads of material to help readers identify - comfortably or not - the origin of self-shame in their own lives; the bottled-up sort that affects mental health, parent-child relationships, and all around progress.

A mix of research, instruction, and composite examples of her own patients through the years, The Shame Game moves easily between light and darkness, and includes personal narratives from Gaunt as well as upbeat, sometimes whimsical suggestions.

A recurring favorite: sticky notes, which she suggests be used for constant, hard-to-miss affirmations - scrawled and pasted throughout one’s house, car, and/or office.

One mantra, “I rock because I breathe the air,” pops up in the book as well as in conversations with Gaunt, an oft-smiling woman who offices in the Pavilion shopping Center on Lovers lane.

No one’s inborn value exceeds that of anyone else, she explained - from Osama bin Laden to Mother Teresa to you and me. And feelings are meant to be felt.

“If I ruled the world,” Gaunt said, chuckling, “I’d have everybody build a wailing wall in their home.”

Highland Park obstetrician / gynecologist Leesa Condry praises The Shame Game for its meditative, workable approach and relevance to readers’ lives - particularly folks who grew up in the Bible Belt, Condry said, citing segments about religious and spiritual shame.

“I think it really resonates for people in our area,” she added, “Especially women, who grow up with [messages such as] ‘put a smile on your face; keep going; don’t really relay your feelings; have good boundaries.’ “
With frequent references to parenting and youth, Gaunt cautions readers to slow down, open their minds, and not wallow in regret about how they’ve reared their own children.

She made plenty a gaffe with her three daughters, she admits, and now offers to pay for their therapy. She’s not joking.

“As people are reading it, they’re often like, “Oh my gosh, I did this, I did this,” she said. “But if parents will own up to their mistakes by being vulnerable with their can change the generational shame that’s been passed down.”

Meanwhile, people the world over seem to be catching on; at last count, a Shame Game Twitter feed had about 12,000 followers. for her own people of mind, said Gaunt, she’s trying not to worry too much about what happens next - or validate the project with anyone else’s opinion.

But she’s clearly thrilled.

And there’s no shame in that.