back   next

Blaming the Unlucky

there's a common pattern i'm starting to notice among friends, acquaintances, family, and coworkers. whenever someone is physically or psychologically ill (not to mention someone who suicides), it is eventually the ill person who is blamed for their own misfortunes.

i guess it's a way people have of rationalizing why some people are ill and some are well. that way they don't have to deal with their own potential vulnerability to the same misfortune.

it's easier to blame the unlucky than to blame a fundamentally unfair universe.

people may show initial empathy or compassion when one is newly battling an illness or disorder (depression certainly being one example). however, after a few months/years it's interesting to look around at the people you know and recognize (sometimes quite clearly) the "reason" each person has assigned to your illness. in many cases, they will blame you (on some level) for having created or encouraged your own misery.

now, i'm all for taking responsibility for ones own reality and actions. but blaming all victims for their own bad luck is a cruel extreme of self-responsibility. for example, i have one acquaintance who told me a couple of years ago that i should try ECT. since i chose to NOT do that, she has since written me off as someone who "doesn't really want to feel better."

another example: my PhD acquaintances all agree that the reason i've not been able to find a job in my field is that i stopped at a masters degree. if i'd gotten that magical PhD, they think, i'd have lots of jobs rolling in. (and as a side note, they believe my depression would then also lift.)

and then there are the myriad of people who are now careful to explain to me that cancer is caused by

  1. not enough sleep,
  2. too much sleep,
  3. not eating enough algae,
  4. eating too many vitamins,
  5. not eating enough vitamins,
etc. people are very "supportive" and "empathetic" when you first are diagnosed with a disease. after a while, they need to start compartmentalizing you and your disease so that you are neatly separated from them and they are therefore "safe" from the fate that has befallen you.

of course, everyone generally has evidence and good reasons why they believe they are "right" in their judgment.

it's a self-protection thing, i guess. it's also blaming the victim.

"she was just asking to be raped; look at the size of her breasts!"

"she was just asking for cancer; she never got into a regular cardiovascular workout routine!"

"he was just depressed because he never *really* believed in god; he just went to church for show."

i guess human beings need to feel secure and "right" in their own lives. by blaming the victims, we build a false sense of invulnerability and security against our fears.


Last update: Wednesday, September 26, 2001 22:26

back   next