Friday, February 06, 2009

Blame "Versus" Responsibility

By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D.(P)

First Posted December 2005

These are not opposites. They are the same thing. This is how well trained we are. We are taught to split reality itself and support a double standard as a ''norm.'' Let me give you a concrete example of this.

A little while ago, a thirtyish woman I know who is a ''career'' patient, (someone who attends every new programme looking for a "cure") corrected me when I told her I thought we all need to learn how to blame appropriately, instead of continuing to travel around the infinite loop of the "No-One-Must-Be-Blamed Game. Patiently, and with a little sigh, she explained something to me that obviously I did not understand.

It's not about blame,' she said, parroting the local mental health profession, It's about responsibility or accountability.
I responded: Blame MEANS: to hold accountable.
She didn't believe it. I looked perplexed at her. She decided it was a ''symptom'' of MINE I think. Likely my "confusion" problem.

We are a society that has become so adept at denial of the obvious that we have re-invented the meaning of words to accommodate that need. Dividing the word ''blame'' and it's meaning in two, we proclaim them "opposites" so that we won't have to hold the aggressors accountable for their own behaviour. We are obliged to protect THEM, from the harsh reality of facing the truth about themselves. THEY have taught us that they are far too ''emotionally fragile'' to become aware they are wrong, and to MAKE them aware, of what they do not want to know, is to abuse THEM.
Some of them beat us; some verbally, psychologically, physically, sexually and/or emotionally abuse us, to ''make us strong.'' Yet, those who would ''make us strong'' plead weakness and emotional fragility, when, or if, we try to stop them, or object to our treatment.

It is this role reversal and this contrived double standard, in both thinking and behaviour, that keeps this cycle going as it is. It is those who are to blame who are most often the first ones to teach us the rule against "blaming others", which they themselves do NOT have to obey. This is usually delivered as that abstract platitude in absolute terms, delivered without discernment of any kind. ''Others'' is always ''them'' it appears. For when ''WE'' are the ''other'' being blamed BY ''them'', for complaining about the way we are treated, the rule created by them no longer applies.

This is the dysfunctional game. Unless it is seen for what it really is, it just keeps going, generation after generation, to infinite mutual loss. I believe it is imperative that we stop playing along with it, and make our talk straight, without vengeance, but also without holding back on the truth for fear that those who think like this will not like us. They probably WON'T like us, but that is going to have to be accepted by our generation if we want to stop the cycle of co-dependent aggression/submission.

The first generation of real change is always the hardest. We are uncomfortable with what is not familiar. Just remember that if our protagonists don't like us for speaking out against the status quo, we can always like each other instead.



1 comment:

Stan said...

Dear Patricia:

It's nice find you’re Blogs and to see others out there like yourself calling for desperately needed dramatic change in mental health care, patient empowerment within the mental health system, and the complete revamping of a failed treatment modality as used today.

I don't know how you handle running four different blogs going on at the same time; but I must say kudos for your relentless efforts and stamina.

I hope to find the time to browse through some of your archives over the course of the next month. From what I skimmed over so far there is much to learn and take away from your writings of substantive value.

Thank you for stopping in at my blog and reading. You are quite well known in blogging circles from what I hear from fellow bloggery friends. I'm glad I have found your blogs, wish you well, and great success in this endeavor related to advocacy.

Yours Truly,
Stan