What Is Victim Blaming
In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychology-related terms. This weeks term is victim blaming.
Victim blaming involves placing the responsibility for a violent or otherwise harmful act either entirely or partially on the victim of that act. It arises from distorted beliefs regarding victims, perpetrators, and the harmful acts themselves. Victim blaming acts as a major deterrent to reporting of both crimes and other problem behaviours like bullying.
Blaming Others: 6 Reasons Why People Play The Blame Game
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How many times have you shown up latesomewhere and blamed traffic?
Traffic is such an easy thing to blamewhen you rush into work ten minutes late. But is it really traffics fault thatyoure late?
Blaming others for your ownmisfortuneswhether its another person or an external circumstanceis aneasy way to outsource unwanted responsibility. People tend to play the blamegame when they cant see a better solution to their problem or cant handle apersonally distressing situation.
People who play the blame game believingit will benefit them in the long run are quite mistaken. In fact, researchshows that people who tend to look outside of themselves to place blame onothers for their own mistakes tend to lose social status among their peers,have lower performance levels, and dont learn as much when they run into obstaclesin life. .
So why is it important to take ownershipof your lifes circumstances?
If you had the choice to feel like avictim or feel empowered, which would you choose?
Im going to assume that you would preferto feel empowered, and one of the first steps to doing that is to stop blamingother people for your misfortunes.
Lets get started.
Final Thoughts On Blaming Others
People often feel an unrealistic demand for perfection, leading them to blame others for their mistakes. When you play the blame game, youre losing out on the opportunity for personal development.
Blame is an act of defense, and if youre constantly defending yourself, youre not opening yourself up to anything that other people have to offer you that could help you grow and learn.
Start thinking of personal responsibility as a way to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Accept your tendency to make mistakes as a route toward personal development. Try to work toward doing things better, but rest assured that you live in a flawed world.
Finally, if you want another positive way to improve your life, then read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest FREE, informative news from this website.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Masters Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.
When To Seek Help
Anyone who believes they are experiencing abuse of any kind should seek support. Over time, emotional abuse may escalate into physical violence.
Even if the abuse does not become physical, gaslighting and similar behaviors can significantly undermine a persons self-esteem and mental health.
Contact a domestic abuse organization for advice and help with creating a safety plan. To address the mental impact of gaslighting, a person may find it helpful to talk confidentially to a therapist who has experience helping people in abusive relationships.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help. Anyone who needs advice or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 via:
- phone, at 800-799-7233
To Explain Why Something Happened
As humans, its our default to always look for a cause for something.
We like to have narratives that explain why things happened so that we can add these to our mental story of life.
Rather than turning the light on ourselves or looking at the bigger picture and context, we can explain things more quickly and easily by attributing them to others.
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Some People Blame Others Ifthey Feel Themselves Losing Control
It is easy to panic if you lose control of a situation, and often one way to feel like youre regaining control is to blame other people.
For example, lets say youre in a heated argument with your spouse and you lose control of your emotions, leading you to say something extremely hurtful. You may blame the comment you made on the fact that your spouse was being mean to you in the first place, when in reality, you felt powerless in the heat of the moment.
Making the comment was a reaction to youranger, which was the emotion you were showing to mask the deeper feeling ofpowerlessness. Even though you have had arguments in the past, you may not wantto acknowledge that there are problems in your marriage thatneed to be addressed.
In this scenario, youre denying yourpersonal responsibility for your behavior because you feel powerless over youractions and incapable of changing. However, youre not recognizing that blamingyour spouse for your burst of outrage only made your sense of powerlessnesseven worse, which then increases your likelihood of blaming your spouse again.
You Make Excuses For Your Partner
Your friends and family arent the biggest fans of your partner and so you feel the need to defend them. You start keeping certain details about your relationship to yourself and hiding things about your partner from the important people in your life. You know your partners behavior would be seen as unacceptable so youre ashamed to expose the dynamics of your relationship.
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Blaming Helps You Retain The Upper Hand
If the situation is either you or them, it makes sense to point fingers. As long as you are implied to have done something wrong, your ego and pride are dented. This implies that you are not in control. By blaming others for your problems, you are consolidating your position as well as weakening the other persons. Ultimately you gain control.
Does Everyone Who Blames Others Have An Official Condition
Not everyone who blames others suffers from an official condition, and some people blame others simply because theyre not brave even to accept responsibility for their own mistakes.
They may have started blaming others for their wrongdoing as children, and it simply carried over into adulthood because they found it easier to blame others.
If you have a friend who blames others but is in no way mentally ill, then you might eventually want to stop hanging around this person because their behavior can be difficult to tolerate.
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Why Does A Person Always Blame Others
Blame protects your ego. In a way, blaming is form of social comparison that is status-seeking. If you blame someone, it puts you in the superior seat, making you feel more important and the good person as opposed to their bad. Of course some people use blaming to make themselves a victim.
What kind of person blames you for everything?
#1 Narcissistic Tendencies Narcissists are notorious for blaming everyone and everything around them. This projection happens because they believe they know how to do things the right way. Moreover, they cannot accept accountability when making a mistake, even if everyone else recognizes it.
What do you call a person that never takes responsibility for their actions?
irresponsible Add to list Share. If youre irresponsible, youre careless about the consequences of your actions. You cant really rely on irresponsible people. Being irresponsible is the opposite of being responsible and careful you do what you like and dont care what happens afterward.
Is blaming others OK when you are stressed?
And in fact, it can be a relief. The practice of blaming others for everything can create a learned helplessness. The sooner you practice being responsible, the sooner you regain control.
Why do narcissists blame you?
How do you respond to someone who blames you?
How to Deal With Someone Who Blames You for Everything
Blaming Others May Work In The Short
If she didnt say that I wouldnt have hit her. If he didnt cut me off I would never have chased after him! My father is to blame for my problems with anger.
These are just a few examples of comments Ive heard over the years, made by individuals who blamed others in order to justify their anger and how they expressed it. In the first, a 32-year-old husband, married for just two years, assaulted his wife while under the influence of alcohol. He hit his wife after she threatened to divorce him and make sure that he would suffer financially. His aggression was a reaction to his angerrage that masked his feelings of powerlessness, hurt, and anticipated loss. In spite of arguments that had escalated in the previous year, he was unable to honestly acknowledge that he and his wife were incompatible.
The second example was a drivers reaction to being cut off by another driver. He experienced this event as a personal attack. The action triggered intense feelings of insult, feelings that were already in place long before the incident occurredfeeling devalued and disrespectedmade to feel less than and invisible.
The third comment is one Ive heard from individuals who blame their parents for how they manage their anger as an adult. They might site the modeling they observed or experienced first-hand. At times, they suggest that their quickness to anger and even how they manage anger were inherited.
Origins of Blaming Others
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People Blame Others To Helpexcuse Their Own Actions
Sometimes, blaming others can give us anexcuse to hurt other people or act in a way that we wouldnt normally act.
When you place blame on someone else, youmay be trying to justify your actions to yourself to reduce your minds naturalinhibitions to acting in a way that is socially unacceptable. When youreplacing blame on others, you are able to create a pattern of thinking that letsyou act in ways that you normally wouldnt.
Lets say someone cut you off in trafficand you then made the effort to catch up with them at a light so you couldcurse them out. In this situation, you may justify your irrational behavior bysaying the other person started it and you were just getting back at them fordoing something just as bad to you. Youre trying to excuse your bad behaviorby assigning a reason to it.
ActionStep: Take responsibility for your actions.Youre an adult and completely capable of owning up to your mistakes. Insteadof spending time and energy looking for ways to deny your mistakes, use thattime and energy to learn from your downfalls.
Needs Constant Praise And Admiration
A narcissist’s sense of superiority is like a balloon that gradually loses air without a steady stream of applause and recognition to keep it inflated. The occasional compliment is not enough. Narcissists need constant food for their ego, so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their obsessive craving for affirmation. These relationships are very one-sided. It’s all about what the admirer can do for the narcissist, never the other way around. And if there is ever an interruption or diminishment in the admirer’s attention and praise, the narcissist treats it as a betrayal.
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The Fundamental Attribution Error
When it comes to other people, we tend to attribute causes to internal factors such as personality characteristics and ignore or minimize external variables. This phenomenon tends to be very widespread, particularly among individualistic cultures.
Psychologists refer to this tendency as the fundamental attribution error even though situational variables are very likely present, we automatically attribute the cause to internal characteristics.
The fundamental attribution error explains why people often blame other people for things over which they usually have no control. The term blaming the victim is often used by social psychologists to describe a phenomenon in which people blame innocent victims of crimes for their misfortune.
In such cases, people may accuse the victim of failing to protect themselves from the event by behaving in a certain manner or not taking specific precautionary steps to avoid or prevent the event.
Examples of this include accusing survivors of rape, domestic violence, and kidnapping of behaving in a manner that somehow provoked their attackers. Researchers suggest that hindsight bias causes people to mistakenly believe that victims should have been able to predict future events and therefore take steps to avoid them.
How Narcissists Blame And Accuse Others For Their Own Shortcomings
People with strong narcissistic tendencies and other dark personality traits tend to blame others for their own bad behavior. If they are lying, then they will accuse others of lying. If they are cruel, they will say that others are cruel. If they are stealing and scamming, then they will accuse others of stealing and scamming. They never take responsibility, and its always someone elses fault.
Besides ascribing their undesirable character traits to others, they will attribute the good characteristics of others to themselves. For example, if they see someone being nice, they will say, No, no, this person is not niceI am nice! If somebody is successful and happy, the narcissist will say, That person is such a loser and a fakebut I, I am really successful and authentic!
Psychologically speaking, this mechanism is called projection, and I talk more about it in my article titled 5 Ways Narcissists Project and Attack You.
A Short Story
While I was growing up, there was a guy who had protruding ears. He used to bully other, smaller children by making fun of their ears for sticking out, even though there was nothing wrong with their ears. He attributed his undesirable physical trait onto others and then attacked them for it. We can speculate from his behavior that he was likely bullied about his ears, and subsequently projected his insecurities onto others.
Dont examine me, look at this shiny thing here!
How Does Blaming Others Affect You
You may think by blaming others, it is over. The ball is out of your court and is on the other side. You may deceive yourself that this is the case. Unfortunately, by blaming, you are making matters more complicated. It is coming back to bite you.
Here are some of the common aftereffects of blaming others.
What To Do If Someone Blames You For Something You Didnt Do
What to do when youre blamed for something that isnt your fault
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What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The word narcissism gets tossed around a lot in our selfie-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture, often to describe someone who seems excessively vain or full of themselves. But in psychological terms, narcissism doesn’t mean self-loveat least not of a genuine sort. It’s more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of workand that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in.
Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding. This way of thinking and behaving surfaces in every area of the narcissist’s life: from work and friendships to family and love relationships.
What Is Scapegoating In Psychology
Scapegoat theory refers to the tendency to blame someone else for one’s own problems, a process that often results in feelings of prejudice toward the person or group that one is blaming. Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to explain failure or misdeeds, while maintaining one’s positive self-image.
Exploits Others Without Guilt Or Shame
Narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of othersto put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objectsthere to serve their needs. As a consequence, they don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends. Sometimes this interpersonal exploitation is malicious, but often it is simply oblivious. Narcissists simply don’t think about how their behavior affects others. And if you point it out, they still won’t truly get it. The only thing they understand is their own needs.
Why Do Controllers And Narcissists Blame
In order to understand how blame-shifting in relationships works, it is also important to understand why narcissists and controllers use this tactic.
The inner guiding voice and blame-shifting in relationships.
Our internal guiding voice helps us navigate through tough terrains. This voice inside of our head is developed during our childhood through:
- Our temperament.
- Our early childhood experiences and bonds.
- How we evaluated our own worth.
When we do something right, our inner voice rewards us and makes us feel good about ourselves. It also does the opposite when we do something bad.
Narcissistic people lack a healthy inner guiding voice.
Their internal voice is often critical, harsh, devaluing, and perfectionist.
It is due to this harshness of their moral compass that they cannot accept blame and try to deflect it on to someone else. This is their way of saving themselves from going down a spiral of self-loathing, guilt, and shame.
They also feel unsafe and fear being humiliated.
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