By Jim Dredge, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare CEO
John Bradshaw’s presence looms large at The Meadows. His seminal works on toxic shame, dysfunctional families and reclaiming one’s inner child are central to our model for treating emotional trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral health disorders. We were heartbroken to hear of his passing earlier this week.
He was a Senior Fellow whose work influenced many of our other senior fellows. Dr. Claudia Black said recently in a Facebook post that John “has left a great legacy. For me personally, he was a dear friend. I have many poignant memories.”
Part of his legacy includes an ability to connect with people on a deeply personal level, even when he was delivering his message to an audience of thousands or through a television screen. “Everything I write about I struggle with myself,” he once said in The Observer of London. Perhaps that very personal understanding of the struggles faced by those with addiction, childhood trauma, and other mental health issues is one of the things that allowed him to speak about complex psychological concepts in a way that was relatable and deeply meaningful to so many.
This amazing gift of his lead him to become a household name in the 1990s through appearances on PBS—for which he received an Emmy nomination— and on popular talk shows like “Oprah” and “Sally Jessy Raphael.” He also led workshops all over the world and wrote many best-selling books, including Healing the Shame That Binds You, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child and Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon is Over.
His aim through all of his work was to help people improve their lives by learning to love and accept themselves. He helped a great many people overcome the shame, rage, resentment, and despair that fueled their addictions and self-destructive behaviors and encouraged them to live more purposeful, fulfilling lives.
Above and beyond his professional accomplishments, his joy, his compassion, and his spirit of kindness were an inspiration and guiding light to us all. “The number of people John helped over the decades has to be in the six figures,” said Shannon Spollen, Director of Community Partnerships at The Meadows. “I couldn’t help but smile whenever I was with him these last couple of years…”
John’s presence will continue to loom large at The Meadows, and our continued commitment to helping people heal from trauma and addiction will be our never-ending tribute to his work and his life. He will be terribly missed.