It is human nature to blame others whenever a difficulty arises.  Mature, civil people tone down this blame tendency somewhat; whereas immature, less civil people blame others more readily.  Nevertheless, blame is widespread enough to justify war and to keep whole industry sectors thriving.  As much as we think blaming will get us to a solution quickly, this paper hopes to show that blame behaves perversely; it keeps us from the very solution we so earnestly seek by using blame.


Why We Blame

When something goes wrong, we all look for easy answers and a quick fix.  There is no doubt that if we find a culprit, we can quickly lay the blame at that person’s doorstep.  There we have it – the reason for the problem.  Fix the person and we quick fix the problem.  What could be simpler?  We now have both an answer and a solution.  No wonder we blame others.

 A Deep Reason Why We Blame

By blaming, we get a sense of answering a dilemma, which satisfies an inner need to get answers. At a deeper level, blaming someone else reinforces our innocence and makes us feel good about ourselves.  So we blame to clear the air and give ourselves a slight lift.

Sometimes it might be to achieve a sense of forgiveness for not having done enough.

NOTE: This paper does not intend to judge how people behave, but to offer comment on the results of the behaviour.  Since human behaviour touches us all, it is an emotional issue; so readers may find themselves reacting emotionally to some statements herein.

A Deeper Reason to Blame

Blaming someone else removes our own involvement or culpability.    Put another way, blame squarely puts the reasons onto someone else, cleansing our own souls somewhat.  As a result, it lifts our ego and it lifts our self-esteem.  This can become pathological for people suffering from severe self-doubts or very low self-esteem.  Such people could not possibly accept the blame for a situation themselves because their own esteem is too low to allow it to be burdened with the even greater load of accepting blame.  So, they are particularly quick to blame and blame unconditionally, not accepting their own contribution or culpability to the situation.

This paper is not the place to go into the issue of low self-esteem in detail, but let us try to summarize it by saying most suffering from low-self esteem have been influenced negatively in their youth by those we care about – parents, siblings, etc. who by their words or actions made us feel inadequate.  In the extreme, persons who exhibit severe low self-esteem may have been abused as children or somewhere along in life – verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually.  The low self-esteem comes from the egocentric view of a child, that if something bad happened, then the child must have made it happen.  This self-blame means that “I’m not very good, in my own view of myself – otherwise I would not have caused this to happen.”  In any event, the influence or damage done at the young age left these people (at least 25% of our society, higher percentages in some other societies) needing a constant means to reconstruct their own damaged image of themselves – needing a lift.  They don’t intentionally set out to blame, but they do intentionally set out to survive – because survival is a primordial driver for us all.  If they receive blame, it may threaten their emotional survival, so they transfer blame to others at all opportunities.  The stereotypical extreme persons we are discussing are, for example, those ‘with a chip on their shoulders’, turning innocent statements into challenges to their persons and therefore, deflecting them away from their own self-esteem.

A Theoretical Pause

For those readers interested in the different types of blame, let us illustrate two.

Projection is a defense mechanism where we protect ourselves from recognizing our own undesirable qualities by assigning them, often in exaggerated amounts, to other people.

Attribution is a tendency to attribute another person’s behaviour to that person’s dispositional qualities, rather than to situational factors.  That is, we explain our own behavior as part of the situation we find ourselves in whereas we explain the same behaviour in other persons as their natural disposition.  By way of example, if we encounter an irritable bus driver, we might tend to think “What a hostile person!” i.e. they are disposed to being hostile.  But, when we snap at someone else, we will rationalize to ourselves that we were in a situation – ‘just in a bad mood’ or ‘having a bad day’.  In a more general view, ‘attribution’ might be the tendency to take credit for our successes and deny responsibility for our failures (i.e. attribute them to bad luck).

Blame Transcends to Groups

Who are the achievers of our society, the business leaders, the political leaders, etc.?  They are people who have something to prove, who need to prove to world that they can do good and that they can achieve great things.  Primary monographs of human psychological behaviour clearly point out that while these people think they must prove their capabilities to the world, it is to themselves that they need to prove worth.  They, in fact, are often people of low self-esteem.

Our society achieves because of its leaders, its drivers and its front-runners who themselves are often victims of some level of abuse (minor or otherwise), and thus are possessors of low self-esteem.  Here we are confronted with one of nature’s own perversities: the behavior that appalls us – the abuse of other individuals – leaves us with a legacy of great leaders that drives our societies forward and upward.

Taking this one step further, the author proposes the frightening thought that we might never be able to obliterate abuse because humankind might not be able to prosper without it; the abusive behaviour generates low self-esteem, that, in turn, creates the desire to prove self-worth that creates leadership and, thus human progress. (This non-conventional thinking is akin to other CCCC counter-intuitive thoughts such as ‘conflict is good’ or ‘dysfunctionality is normal’.)

Who are the people that blame?  People of low self-esteem do.  And which people lead companies, courts and countries?  As concluded above: people of low self-esteem.  Thus, our leaders are in a position to be the architects of societal blame.  Heads of countries, for the most part, are disposed to be and can be quick to blame other countries for their ills – as we have seen all through history, even up to modern times. This has often led to rationalizing and justifying genocide as one race blames another for its ills.  Citizens of low self-esteem within those countries see an answer in a scapegoat that so readily explains the difficulties before them.  So, even in democracies, atrocious acts against other humans can be justified (as in Hitler’s reign).

On a personal scale, look around you; look at the blamers around you.  What is their common trait?  I think you’ll find it is low self-esteem, manifested in two primary personalities: (i) those we might deem losers – those who seem to lack abilities that so many of their fellow humans have, and (ii) the people at the very opposite end of the spectrum of society, – the movers and shakers of groups, the beautiful people – who feel a need to stand before others (to prove their point and themselves).  Please reflect on your friends in this category for a few minutes before continuing.

A Thriving Industry

We people in modern societies blame; we attempt to shift most, if not all, the blame onto others. This keeps a whole industry of lawyers, lawmakers and law enforcers busy – keeps an industry thriving.  The greater the blame factor the greater the need for lawyers.  A civilization in decline (Scapegoat stage of the CCCC Organization Evolution Curve) focuses more on blame than on mutually developed solutions. (Ironically, lawyers themselves become targets of blame.)

Blame Works against a Solution

First, if we blame someone else, we cease to look at our own contribution to the problem – and there is bound to be some contribution by us.  By ignoring our part or by loftily justifying our innocence, we lose a major opportunity to improve ourselves, or the situation.

Second, our own studies at CCCC show that the solutions to issues can only be arrived at by:

  • Involving more than one person
  • Ensuring a safe environment of mutual respect
  • Developing mechanisms to ensure emotions are diffused.

(At this point, the reader must accept on faith that these three issues are essential.  Practitioners of The CCCC Approach will have had these points verified time and time again.)

If we do not include the three points above, we will not arrive at a solution that will last.  We may arrive at a short-term solution or one that helps one side but not the other.  In such cases, the problem will raise its ugly head again or the losing side will reopen the hostilities whenever they become strong enough to do so (Germany starts World War II, Iraq arms for a future conflict).

Blame interweaves among all three of the above points, described in turn, below.

Solutions Involve More than One Person

In the problem-solving process, we recommend that all parties directly affected by the problem, participate in the solution.  That would include the person who is ‘to blame’.

“No man is an island.”  All people have friends or family or compatriots.  When you blame a person, you condemn that person’s friends, family or circle to the result of the blame.  At the very least, you stir up their passions to come to the defense of their friend.

Who enjoys being blamed?  No one!  Even if we are guilty, we do not like others telling us that; we usually know ourselves and may have started our corrective action in our own way.

The point, however, is that if we do not like being blamed; it follows that others do not like being blamed.  Remember, the issue here is not whether the person deserves the blame or not, but that no one likes to be the butt of blame.

Ensuring a Safe Environment of Respect

A safe environment shields people from accusations, from having their ideas trivialized, from not being heard or from being blamed.  In the history of CCCC, no solutions have been arrived at without ensuring a safe environment.  And CCCC’s history, as of this writing, is a record of successfully solving 100% of the 500 problems put before it – within a safe environment.

Developing Mechanism for Diffusing of Emotions

Again, the briefness of this paper does not allow a full disclosure of the principles of diffusing emotions.  But to summarize, we all have emotions that for the most part provide us with protective survival reactions.  While these emotions are essential to our humanity, they also are the one common element that gets in the way of solving problems rationally.  Thus, CCCC demonstrates how steps must be taken by others in a group to diffuse the emotions of anyone so affected during the problem-solving process.

The moment Henry is blamed, his defensive reactions rise to the fore – spoken or unspoken.  This is totally natural and totally justified, for he is a human being. Sarah, (or anyone else in the group) on sensing Henry’s emotions, must take steps to diffuse the emotion or a solution will CLEARLY not be arrived at.  Blaming creates emotions and hence it works against solutions. If a group is blamed, the group’s emotions now enter the picture, which by this time would make reaching a solution impossible.

Does Blaming Help?

There is not a scrap of evidence, that we are aware of, that suggests blaming helps arrive at a solution.  If there is someone in a problem-solving group who has contributed to the problem, that person will usually bring forth a contribution to the solution.  That is all that matters.


We posit that since blaming does not appear to help at getting issues resolved, and we can clearly demonstrate that blaming hinders, then blaming should be abandoned by anyone desirous of arriving at a solution.  Perversity of blame: people blame to get to a solution quickly, yet it is the absence of blaming that will pave the shortest road to a lasting solution.