Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blaming the Victim - Ellen Langer - Harvard University - Psychology Today

When I give lectures around my book, Counterclockwise, not infrequently someone will ask whether the idea I'm espousing--that we have far more control over our illnesses than most of us realize--inevitably leads to blaming the victim. Their reasoning must be that if we can control either the severity of our symptoms or the entire disease process, than those who suffer are suffering by their own hands since they did nothing to help themselves. This understanding couldn't be further from the truth.

We have been explicitly and implicitly taught by our culture to be mindless. We have been taught absolutes when none really exist independent of context. When we think we know something absolutely, we have learned that it is reasonable never to question it, nor to pay attention to how it may be otherwise. Beliefs and behavior always make some kind of sense from the actor's perspective or else the actor would have done otherwise. Blame suggests mindlessness on the part of the blamer who does not recognize this. We are not at fault for what we do not know just because someone else can see a way we could have known it. Read moreEllen Langer - Harvard University - Psychology Today


Ellen Langer is a professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. Her books written for general and academic readers include Mindfulness, The Power of Mindful Learning, On Becoming An Artist, and Counterclockwise.

Langer has described her work on the illusion of control, aging, decision-making, and mindfulness theory in over 200 research articles and six academic books. Her work has led to numerous academic honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest of the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Contributions of Basic Science to Applied Psychology award from the American Association of Applied & Preventive Psychology, the James McKeen Cattel Award, and the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize. read more 

Her PT blog is Counterclockwise.

Related links: 

Fundamental Attribution Error - read more  Ex: 12 Angry Men - movie
· people do what they do because of the kind of people that they are, not because of the situation they are in
· people tend to underestimate external influences when explaining other people’s behavior Read more - video 
Blaming The Victim (read more)

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