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The power of shame

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 08 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1397

Behaviour should be distinguished from identity

  1. Peter Davies, general practitioner. (
  1. Mixenden Stones Surgery, Halifax HX2 8RQ
  2. Walsall Heath Authority, Walsall WS1 1TE

    EDITOR—Davidoff's editorial graphically illustrates the power of shame, saying that “it goes right to the core of a person's identity.1 There is another way of seeing this, derived from the work of Dilts et al and Hall on logical levels. 2 3

    Dilts et al see the human brain as working in hierarchies, starting at the level of environment (where?), moving up to behaviour (what?), capabilities (how?), values (criteria), beliefs (why?), identity (who?), and beyond this to spirituality or connectedness to other people and the bigger world. Each level modulates the expression of the lower levels. Generally, change at a higher level results in bigger changes in behaviour than do changes at a lower level. Our behaviour in the world is an expression of …

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