In this context, it is not surprising that blame often becomes a major component of arguments. When individuals or groups
blame each other for an undesirable event, the outcome is often accompanied by a desire for retribution. "Blamers" often want
"blamees" to suffer consequences as a result of an alleged error.
Responding to problems by blaming others rarely provides effective long-term solutions. Why not? The reason is that blaming
is often based on a faulty premise that getting others to change their behavior or getting others to change situations to
meet our desires will resolve problems.
In my experiences at the University of Minnesota, my desire that others change in accord with my expectations often does not
occur. When I hold fast to a blaming mode of response, I'm denying the fact that by doing so, I may be personally perpetuating
the problem. In this situation, blaming may be an excuse for my not contributing to a constructive solution. In essence, rather
than taking action to improve the situation, I prefer to live with the past and blame somebody else for my anger.
Blamosis, blamomas and blamoblastomas
Who doesn't make mistakes? Isn't it true that all of us frequently err in our daily interactions with others? Yet, how do
we often respond when the consequences of someone else's error adversely affect us?
As emphasized in the news headlines, the initial response is to fix blame on others. In contrast, how do we often respond
when someone else blames us for problems that we have caused? Have you ever responded to being blamed by saying, "Hey, it's
not my fault; I'm not to blame;" or "Nobody told me!" How often do we weigh our clients' and associates' shortcomings with
the same scale that we use for ourselves?
Why is it we often blame others for their mistakes but tend to be lenient with ourselves when we make the same mistakes? I
submit that one major reason behind our tendency to blame other people or events for problems is our desire to avoid our own
accountability for the cause and consequences of the problems.
"Now look at what you made me do" is a classic cliché used to shift blame. Some youths blame the adversity they have created
in their lives on their parents' genes or how their parents raised them. Some veterinary students blame their teachers' impatience
and strict expectations for their poor performance in school. Some hospital staff point at a critical boss as an excuse for
their lack of work ethic.
Based on astrological writings found in daily horoscopes, some blame the stars or their date of birth for their adverse circumstances.
Others go so far as to blame God, as exemplified by effects of natural disasters being called "acts of God." In veterinary
medicine, accusations of negligence and malpractice are often rooted in a culture of blame.
When we blame others for problems with the intent of holding them unilaterally accountable, we may be denying our own accountability
for how we respond to the problems. If we do not recognize the root causes of blame with the goal of taking corrective action,
a psychological dysfunctional disorder symbolically called "blamosis" may develop in which the "blame-reflex" becomes a habit.
If blamosis persists unchecked by behavioral norms, it can progress to a state analogous to neoplasia in which "blamomas"
develop and grow. If blame is sensationalized by gossip, benign blamomas may progress to malignant "blamoblastomas" characterized
by metastasis of popular themes of blame to groups, such as those comprising hospital staff or even members of veterinary
Because none of us is perfect (eg, we are not blameless), various degrees and combinations of blamosis occur in all of us,
as expressed by our thoughts, speech and actions. Blamosis has multiple, and sometimes interacting, causes associated with
a variety of risk and protective factors. However, the good news is that blamosis, blamomas and blamoblastomas are potentially
reversible and even preventable.