Children can handle some shame, especially with help from their parents, or other significant adults. There is even such a thing as healthy shame, which is necessary to our development.
But when children are repeatedly overwhelmed with shame as they are when they are sexually molested, insulted, beaten, treated with contempt, or ignored and neglected by their families, or even by peers, they develop what I call a "pool of shame." Once developed, any new shaming experience causes the pool to overflow. This overflowing shame drives people to behave in angry, self-hating, isolating, hiding, self-destructive ways. Everything can be affected by the overflow: personal and work relationships, feelings of self-worth, aliveness, peace, and so forth.
While men more often turn shame into anger and violence, women more often turn shame in on ourselves. Some examples include eating disorders, sexual promiscuity or aversion, and taking care of others without taking care of ourselves. Both women and men may get depressed, anxious, and/or turn to drugs and alcohol for relief.
Shame does not have to rule your life! Shame insists on being hidden, and then grows worse in the dark. When shame is talked about with trustworthy people, it is like opening it to the sun--it dries up!
If you're interested in reading my longer article, Shame: Healing Old Wounds Through Current Relationships, go to this link.