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Dr. Garrett OConnor Honored In Ireland

December 2nd, 2010 – Posted by Betty Ford Center in BFC Insights
Tags: Dr. Garrett O'Connor shame trauma


On December 2, 2010, in a ceremony scaled down due to extremely adverse weather conditions, the Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Dublin, conferred honorary doctorate degrees on actor, Brendan Gleeson; nuclear physicist Professor Richard Milner and Dr. Garrett O’Connor, former President of the Betty Ford Institute.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the university to individuals who have contributed significantly to public life, the betterment of society, and the interests of humanity in Ireland, Europe or elsewhere. It is an honor of the highest level given to those whose academic distinction is linked in some way to the culture, scholarship, traditions and values of the National University of Ireland.

Born in Dublin, Dr O’Connor graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1960 to train in Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Later, he introduced innovative experiential teaching methods for medical students at UCLA, and pioneered successful community models of addiction treatment in Los Angeles. For the past 20 years, Dr. O’Connor has striven to clarify the role of malignant shame that can arise from extreme cultural and familial trauma, as well as the ways in which this destructive form of shame may be transmitted unconsciously to future generations.

The topic of addressing malignant shame was the impetus for an invitation from Irish public broadcast RTE Radio to Dr. O’Connor to deliver the 2010 Michael Littleton Memorial Lecture, a prestigious annual public lecture.  On December 7, 2010, Dr. O’Connor will address a studio audience about “Malignant Shame in Ireland and its role in the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger.” The lecture will be broadcast nationwide later in the month.

As President of the Betty Ford Institute, Dr. O’Connor is dedicated to the mission of supporting collaborative programs of prevention, education and research that will lead to a reduction in the devastating effects of addictive disease on individuals, families and communities. He has written and spoken on numerous occasions on the topic of shame and addiction.

Links to two of Dr. O’Connor’s articles are below. The first is an overview of shame and addiction. The second is an analysis of malignant shame and the Irish condition.

“To Understand Shame Is To Understand Addiction And Maybe Even Life Itself”

“Recognising and Healing Malignant Shame”

Related posts:

  1. The Betty Ford Center Appoints Garrett O’Connor Medical Director of Professional Recovery Program
  2. Betty Ford Institute Names CEO


One Response to “Dr. Garrett OConnor Honored in Ireland”

  1. Denise C. says:

    Dear Garrett.
    I have read and re-read your paper delivered earlier this week and I have found it thought provoking and personally and professionally timely. There is so much more to say on the matter but I have only recently begun to think about the issue of shame particularly in my work, so I was interested in the synchronicity of your coming to Ireland. I am sure you are aware of the national situation where we have had to ask for financial assistance and I found the paper headlines indicating our shame around the world interesting and worrying. I work as a child psychiatrist and shame and intergenerational shame is too difficult to even approach at times.
    I have found your piece moving and personally relevant in the unexpected ways that writing can illuminate especially when you need it most and I would greatly value a reference list if that is available.
    Many thanks for your contribution: there is a deep sense of sadness here at the moment, a glimpse of genuine anger stirring which will be essential if we are to recover but a worrying ambivalence and ongoing threat of a resurgence in paramilitary activity in the void that is created by the lack of emotional connectedness to grief that is a real part of our cultural and psychic history.

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