The Facileness of Blaming 

Robert F. Mullen, PhD

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Cognitive Distortion #2: Blaming

We cognitively distort Blaming when we wrongly assign responsibility for things and happenings. Social anxiety disorder thrives by making us feel helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. The burden of responsibility for our negative self-image can be overwhelming and compels us to hold someone or something accountable.

Since we have determined that SAD onset is a consequence of childhood disturbance, we recognize that attributing blame for our symptoms makes no sense. The Fallacy of Fairness, however, alerts us to the perceived injustice of SAD, and our Emotional Reasoning compels us to assign blame. Something or someone provokes our fears and anxieties; blaming SAD for everything does not relieve the anguish of our negative self-beliefs. When we see ourselves as victims, we need to blame someone or something for our victimization. 

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One alternative is external blaming – holding others accountable for things that are our responsibility. Blaming someone or something for our personal choices and decisions seems illogical, but remember, SAD sustains itself on our irrationality. Besides, if we feel helpless, how can we hold ourselves accountable? If we believe we do not have the power to overcome our challenges, does it not make sense to blame someone else?

internal blaming is assuming personal responsibility for the problems of other people and things that go wrong which do not involve us. We view everything as our fault and think we are responsible for everyone. If our roommate is unhappy, it must be something we did. Internal or self-blaming can be expressed as power or weakness (Control Fallacies). When we blame ourselves for our symptoms, we feed into our perceptions of incompetence and ineptitude. Believing we have power and influence over other people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can be seen as grandiosity. Both correspond to our low self-esteem and sense of inferiority.

There is a difference between internal blaming and taking responsibility. Holding ourselves accountable for our actions is the mature and ethical approach to emotional well-being and social responsibility. Internal blaming is when we take responsibility for things that we are not accountable for. 

Until we devise rational responses to our fears and social avoidance, we tend to assign blame for our negative thoughts and behaviors. The ability to look at our actions through the prism of intellectual awareness is a necessary component of the transformative act and indispensable to recovery. Rational response allows the flow of positive thought and behavior necessary for recovery, eliminating the need to blame. Until we master recovery, we will continue to search for avenues to unburden ourselves of responsibility. 

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