Defining humilation?

How would you define humiliation? Is it something done to you or a experience/perception of yours? This might seem like semantics but consider this definition offered up by Richard Mollica in his Invisible Wounds (Harcourt, 2006, p. 72),

Humiliation…is primarily linked to how people believe the world is viewing them.

In this definition I hear that it is the result of objective harm but also related to how we think others see us. So, is it possible to be violated, mistreated, objectified…and not feel humiliation? Could you be stripped naked before a crowd of people and not feel humiliation? I suspect it is possible but not likely, not typical.

Who cares?

At one level, no one cares about the definition. If you feel it, you know someone has done you wrong. Someone has defamed you. Someone has acted in an ungodly way toward you. At another level, maybe it does matter. Does it (in a small way) take the power out of the abusers hands and place it back in your own. Does it enable one to say as Joseph, “what you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Of course, that is very hard to say if you aren’t now the prince of Egypt!

It is probably good to think about how we come to view ourselves and how much power we give to the perceptions of others. However, let every counselor or friend remember, humiliation is real…not something in the fantasy of the victim.


Filed under Abuse, counseling, counseling skills

3 responses to “Defining humilation?

  1. Scott Knapp

    I think there are some similarities (besides grammatically) between “humility” and “humiliation”. “Humility” seems to imply acceptance of less than the desired amount of honor, perhaps honor rightly due, and a willingness to be accorded whatever is customary for someone in the place of less-than-desired or deserved honor. “Humiliation”, on the other hand, seems to involve the stripping of someone of the honor or respect that they have, had or wish they had (whether it was due or not). When I think about “humiliating” an enemy, it involves shearing them of the power or position in which to control or destroy me; “humiliating” a wealthy business executive may mean stripping him of his title and position in a corporation, and thus his controlling power and command of honor from others. I read a story about a once wealthy executive who was devastated when his lifetime of building up a business was brought to ruin by a changing of the market tradewinds, and he and his wife were forced to liquidate their entire personal estate to cover his liabilities. The man and his wife, however, were Christ followers, and those who knew them marveled at the display of peace and dignity, as they sat quietly watching their belongings scattered to the highest bidder at the liquidation auction. This man’s sense of self was grounded in Someone more solid than mere possessions, and while he mourned his change of status in society, he could not be “humiliated” at the loss, because he did not believe the status of his soul was at stake…it had already been “sold” to a Higher Bidder.

  2. Church Lady Wannabe

    Wow! Great topic for me to find. Due to my circumstances, I would be very foolish not to examine my part in the results I experience. I want to be a humble servant but do suffer from pride in my human nature. Recent situations with people that I want to love and respect caused me to really look at what was happening to me. Was I experiencing a lesson from God through Godly people? What was the lesson and what could I do to “pass” and get on to better days and relations? I had to examine whether I was experiencing the humbling hand of God or was it humiliation from the influence of the enemy. It’s easy to identify the enemy’s attack through the world, but when it comes from confessing Christ followers it is more difficult to discern. I wasnt to submit to those in authority placed there by God. Once I stopped anguishing and examimed what I know of God’s nature (always go back to His word), I realised that I was suffering from confusion, lack of guidance, and extreme emotional upset. I felt humiliated–no respect, derision, and scorn. In my life, God’s lessons in humility have always had a measure of pain, embarassment but along with all that a sense of abiding love and guidance. A choice to use my freewill to do the right thing with the right thing highlighted. It was with great surprise and regret that I had to face the very people I had hoped to find God’s path with was toxic. In their pride and with a hole in their faith, they too were deceived into poor behavior by the enemy. God’s lesson…He defines who I am and it is up to me, not a church, to be responsible for who I offer my gifts and talents. I must rely on him for wisdom and discernment. I don’t have to hate them or punish them, I just need to be wise with how much access I give them…BOUNDARIES! LOL

  3. Emmanuel Ferreira do Pinho

    Did Jesus Christ feel that he was humiliated?
    I find it hard to believe that He did!!
    Any comments, please.

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