The Inheritance of Shame details the six years author Peter Gajdics spent in a form of conversion therapy that attempted to “cure” him of his homosexuality. Kept with other patients in a cult-like home in British Columbia, Canada, Gajdics was under the authority of a dominating, rogue psychiatrist who controlled his patients, in part, by creating and exploiting a false sense of family. Juxtaposed against his parents’ tormented past—his mother’s incarceration and escape from a communist concentration camp in post-World War II Yugoslavia, and his father’s upbringing as an orphan in war-torn Hungary—Gajdics’ story explores the universal themes of childhood trauma, oppression, and intergenerational pain. Told over a period of decades, the book shows us the damaging repercussions of conversion therapy and reminds us that resilience, compassion, and the courage to speak the truth exist within us all.


Praise for The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir

Deeply moving.
— The Advocate
The bulk of Gajdics’s memoir charts his horrific six years under this doctor’s manipulation, but it’s about more than the manufacture and trade in shame. It is also about inheritance – in Gajdics’s case, from his parents’ experiences around the Second World War – and perseverance. For marginalized people, the words ‘I’m still here’ hold emancipatory power. There’s pride in that.
— The Globe and Mail
Peter Gajdics carries us along effortlessly on his incredible struggle with family rejection, loss of self and ultimate recovery from the deep wounds inflicted by anti-gay ‘therapy.’ At this time of immense suffering for LGBTQ+ youth around the world, his emergence from shame should give hope for healing to all victims of this destructive practice.
— Jason Marsden, Executive Director, Matthew Shepard Foundation
Reflective but passionate, Gajdics takes the reader on an exploration beyond the what of his experience as a young, conflicted gay man and deeply into the chasm of his search to discover who he was.… This exploration is a hero’s journey in which any reader, gay or straight, can find inspiration.
— Lambda Literary Foundation
Raw and unflinching: a powerful argument against conversion therapy as well as the healing power of memoir.
— Kirkus Reviews
In a book that celebrates and embodies the power of the medium of writing in a pure way, Gajdics uses the written word to heal from trauma, to reconcile with his parents, to unearth their own suffering in WWII, and as an unforgettable call for compassion. His passionate writing makes the book not only an intriguing read but an important one in the literary and political realms.
— Foreword Reviews
The Inheritance of Shame is a profound journey to self-destruction, self-acceptance, and finally a reckoning with the dangers of shame and silence. This is a memoir that is hard to read, but one that must absolutely be read.
— KQED book review
The Inheritance of Shame provides an in-depth account of the triumph of one man’s sanity over a psychotherapy system designed to eradicate personhood. Particularly moving were passages of Gajdics’ fondness for the very therapist who abused him, a kind of Stockholm syndrome most survivors of conversion therapy have experienced. A necessary, incredibly nuanced portrait of a survivor, The Inheritance of Shame will change lives.
— Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased
The Inheritance of Shame is a harrowing, enraging, triumphant, and necessary book. This is a story that should never have happened, but because the horrors of homophobia continue in this country and around the world, we need the testimony of people with the courage of Peter Gajdics.
— Ellen Bass, co-author of The Courage to Heal
Peter Gajdics’ multi-faceted memoir offers help for abuse survivors and those who care about them. He provides inside perspective on the many effects of childhood sexual abuse, including the way societal, religious, and familial homophobia and denial became internalized and made a young man vulnerable to a destructive ‘therapeutic’ cult. His healing speaks to the power and fortitude of the human spirit. The Inheritance of Shame is both about damage and healing. This is a work of love.
— Mike Lew, author of Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse
The Inheritance of Shame is a testament to one family’s ability to survive oppression in its many forms, from insidious to institutionalized. Peter Gajdics traces his transformation from ‘a man whose food seemed poisonous to his hunger,’ to a writer who makes real what seemed unreal. Through unrelenting prose, his words provide a home for his orphaned father, tortured mother, and most importantly, his own identity that others wanted to drug, demonize, and destroy.
— Kate Gray, author of Carry the Sky
The Inheritance of Shame is a necessary book for anyone wanting to understand the trauma one goes through if society has deemed them different. If shame has already been passed down to the next generation and there are perceived added differences the shame is compounded. Cults come in many forms and unfortunately those who want to be normal sometimes become victims of these cults. The book focuses on the triumph of the human spirit and shows how everyone may be different in some ways but no one is born to be what others think they should be. At the end, be yourself and be happier is the theme of the book.
— Bev Sellars, bestselling author of They Called Me Number One
In Peter Gajdics’ memoir, we’re taken into a real-life horror film of malpractice and corrupt psychotherapy, hoping at every turn of the page that our narrator escapes. A shocking, crystal-clear, unsettling book. The Inheritance of Shame is both a necessary and devastating memoir about the trauma of conversion therapy and the homophobia that persists to this day.
— Daniel Zomparelli, author of Everything is Awful and You’re a Terrible Person
The reader is taken on a gripping, shocking and unimaginable journey shared by this courageous author… To quote the book: ‘The horror of it all provokes disbelief.’ I couldn’t put this book down.
— Claire Slack, Educator