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The "Blame Game" In Therapy
April 28, 2007
3:54 am
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chicobrisbane
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Many might recall my "I Killed Mr. Johnson" thread some months ago. I made the big step of beginning 1 on 1 counceling and am wondering if others are experiencing what I am. I suppose I was looking for a way to come to terms and except responsibility for my misdeads as an adolescent and young adult. However, it seems that I'm being told that the blame lies elseware with my parents, my upbringing, environment, etc, This is not what I hoped to get out of therapy. I could have pointed the finger at others on my own.

Any thought?

Chico Brisbane

April 28, 2007
8:15 am
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Tiger Trainer
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I think sometimes my therapist does come back to how I was raised and the enviromnet I was raised in just so he can help me understand why Make the choices I do. then it comes back to me and do I want to feel that way or make choices like I have been doing. I've never heard him blame my parents for my present choices or my present feelings for things I did when i was younger.

April 28, 2007
8:23 am
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lollipop3
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Hi Chico,

I don't know that it is so much "blaming" your parents, as it is giving you an understanding as to why you may behave in some of the ways that you do.

Studies upon studies upon studies, have shown that our environment growing up has much to do with how we act, and interact, with others as adults.

Having said that.....understanding why we may behave the way we do, does not mean that we are not responsible for the way we behave.

Regardless of how we were raised, or what we may have experienced as children....if we, as adults, choose to behave inappropriately, abusively, irresponsibly, immaturely, etc...... we have no one to "blame" but ourselves.

Just my opinion of course....

Take care,
Lolli

April 28, 2007
8:26 am
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sad sack
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Hi!

I am not familiar with your previous thread, but I did want to comment on what you posted here.

I was totally turned off to therapy for the very reason you stated. My therapist blamed every thing I ever did, every feeling I ever had, on my mother. She was obsessed with blaming the mother for everything. And it wasn't only me. I went to lectures that she would give, and she always focused on the mother/ daughter relationship and how that affects the person you are forever.

I am not denying that the mother/ daughter relationship is an important one and that it has played a huge role in my development. But what is the point in sitting and blaming and blaming and then blaming some more. Awareness is important but therapy should focus on the here and now as well. Okay, my mother had an impact on this and that. I accept that. Let's deal with it and move on already.

So anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with therapy. I know there is quality therapy going on out there. It is just that I have yet to find it.

Sad Sack

April 28, 2007
8:50 am
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thewall
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Set some goals in your therapy with your therapist . Answer these questions to help guide you.. What would be different in your life if therapy was successful? How would you be different?

I think its important to explore how the environment played a role in how we make decisions, how our personality developed, etc. bc if we arent able to see the underlying issues, needs, drives, etc, then we are more apt to make the same mistakes twice (or similar mistakes).

April 28, 2007
9:09 am
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lollipop3
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Hi Sad Sack,

I can relate to what you are saying. I have read so many "self-help" books that tell me the same thing over and over and over and over (about family of origin, you have to love yourself first, etc) and at this point I can help but think....."OK, I GET IT....NOW WHAT DO I DO??????"

Everything I read tells me WHY I am the way I am....now I need one that tells me what to do about it!

Lolli

April 28, 2007
9:19 am
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lonely and addicted
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I have been in therapy off and on for so many years it seems to be a natural thing. I had a rough chilhood and have had issues my whole life and some do stem back from childhood. One thing can cause us to begave in certain ways. I used to think that it was stupid, why do you blame my past, it is someone else's fault. When you work with a counselor I think they are trting to get ahold of how you grew up and how they can help see steps that lead up. Not all counselors are terrific, I have always chosen to see what I wanted when I wanted and over the same years with different therapists it all comes back to the same things. So someone is not wrong.
Give it a try, maybe it will help you. Go in with an open heart and mind, maybe something will stay on your mind.

L&A

April 28, 2007
9:59 am
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Matteo
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I agree - what happens in our childhood has a tremendous influence on us, no question about it. However that's not the only reason for our actions; as an example some of those whose parents used corporal punishment will do the same to their children, some will do everything possible not to do anything like this to them, some who experienced sexual abuse might abuse others, some would never do it to another person. Having certain experience in childhood might be an explanation of a behaviour but it is not justification of that behaviour. If you want some guidance and support through counseling to take responsibility and get some peace with yourself after what you did, seems like you will not get any help from your therapist. Discuss your expectations with your therapist and find someone else if they cannot provide what you are looking for.

April 28, 2007
12:11 pm
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fantas
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Hi Chico...I remember the first time I went to a therapist and he talked about my parents and I went all defensive and thought it was a bunch of BS. I didn't go back again for about 15 years when I had started to remember the physical abuse I suffered in the hands of my mother and sexual abuse from a friend of the family. I don't know about about you, but I wasn't completely ready for therapy the first time, the second time, I was not only ready but I saw clearly how my past had dictated my life regardless of the decisions I made...There are no rights or wrongs in how we seek help. I hope you find an avenue that works for you...Keep on keeping on:)

April 28, 2007
12:36 pm
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mj
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Do you think you may want to punish yourself by accepting all responsibility for your adolescent actions?

I read your thread originally and it was quite shocking. I wonder if you derive some pleasure out of the self-inflicted quilt?

I hope that you continue with your counseling sessions. Sometimes therapists are hard to second quess but what matters is that you discuss what your feeling with the therapist and work through it. Do you feel like you can trust the counselor?

April 29, 2007
5:47 am
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chicobrisbane
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MJ

I can assure you that I derive no pleasure from self-inflicted guilt. As you said, you read my original post and found it shocking. For nearly 3 decades I was guilt-free from every malicious, hurtful, devious, and retaliating act that I dispenced during my childhood and adolescents. I never imagined that a person could suddenly be consumed by guilt over things that had all but been forgotten about. But here I am. 40something and all [email protected]%ed up in the head from $h!t that I did when Nixon was in office. Go figure! - I do need a new therapist because I don't need to pay good for for something that I'm a pro at. I can lay the blame elsewhere like a champ and rationalize just about anything.

Chico

April 29, 2007
12:36 pm
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gracenotes
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Chico,

I remember your thread very well. Is your therapist using the word "blame"?

I agree that true healing is not about pointing the finger at anyone, not others, not ourselves. But I also know, for myself, that true healing also has to do with acknowledging and accepting what happened in the past with your parents, your peers, your siblings, where you grew up, calling any possible abuse for what it is vs. denying anything happened. And, there are periods where one just feels so angry and wants to blame in the process. True healing is also acknowledging that other people hurt us, both as children and adults and there is an element of forgiveness in the process. There's not only physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, there is intellectual, spiritual, and societal abuse and this stuff often goes unacknowleddged.

Something awful happened and I truly get that you feel awful about it, but maybe your therapist is trying to help you work through some stages and see that there were contributing cirucmstances, all those things that molded you as a person, that played a part in influencing who you are. And, as a child, many of these things were beyond your control.

You mentioned previously that there was no abuse in your life. I find it hard to believe that there was nothing abusive. I just never met anyone, even people who are very healthy, who didn't experience something abusive.

I am so much a believer in self-responsibility and wish more people felt like I do, but in therapy we have to look at the mucky crap and see how it has affected our choices. We also need to see that, as children, we did not have the total brain capacity to make good choices on our own. That's why we are supposed to have parents and are considered "minors." In your case, my conscience as a child would have not allowed this to happen, but my parents instilled in me a strong conscience of right and wrong, and taught all those basic values. Were your parents lacking in teaching you a solid moral foundation? I think so. Is that your fault as a child? As an adult it is, but not as a child.

I would discuss your concerns with your therapist. If you are not happy with her treatment plan, maybe she can explain what she is doing and make adjustments. I honor you for going through this journey.

April 29, 2007
12:52 pm
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fantas
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Chico..., What would a successful therapy session look like to you? In other words, what do you think your therapist should be doing for you? Ever considered going the joining a twelve step group? I call it recovering among your peers...
It's possible that you are so busy chastising yourself for your past that you cannot bear to hear and or feel any compassion towards you...keep posting and all the best to you. This has been my experience with myself.

April 29, 2007
1:05 pm
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mj
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I am glad that you know what feels right for you Chico. I believe each of us possess the answers to our questions. Seems to me, you are finding that you want to accept responsibility for your actions.

I reread your original thread this morning again. You have made a lot of progress since posting. You became aware of your actions that you have submerged (numbed). You reconcilled your relationship with your nephew. You have been working with a therapist that you realize is not helping you with the blame game. I hope you are proud of yourself today. Recovery is a process. I wish you well in your self discovery.

Know that you can learn self love! There is Hope!

April 29, 2007
5:45 pm
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chicobrisbane
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FANTAS WROTE:

Chico..., What would a successful therapy session look like to you?

Well Fantas, Through the months of therapy I have already undergone, I realize that most of my misdeeds where in the from of over retaliation and due to my inability to physically defend myself on equal ground with my peers. I also realize that unlike physical pain that would heal itself in a matter of days or weeks, the emotional pain that I inflicted lasted for years, decades, and in some cases would never heal resulting in 1 suicide and another person drinking himself to death over the 4 or 5 years following the incident. Weather I blame myself, my parents, my victims or whomever, I am simply coming to the conclusion that as the saying goes "Payback is a bitch!" and this is the punishment for my crimes. According to my therapist, my complete inability to show signs of anger should have been a neon sign to my parents that something was wrong with me. Basically, if my parents would have gotten me the help that I needed as a child, I would not be in the situation that I'm in today.I couldn't beleive that she actually said that, but she did. It seemes that what she is trying to drive home is that I am to blame for what I did, but others are to blame for letting me get to that point.

I'm not going to be seeing her anymore. I guess I would be better served to accept the fact that some wounds don't heal. Then I can just carry on and limp my way through however many years I have left.

Chico

April 29, 2007
7:47 pm
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Dear chico,

I am really feeling your frustration.

Are your sure there are not some other avenues towards finding some peace????

Like, if you have made mistakes on your own volition and you can only apologize to the ones you caused so much pain.....you cannot change what happened....

IF you've really really felt the remorse and done all that you can see to do to make restitution....then I am wondering if it is that you cannot forgive yourself (or others).

Someone has said (many times here) that ANGER is never the first emotion....that ANGER is the result of the inability to handle all the other feelings like fear, shame, hurt, jealousy, confusion, disappintment, rejection (You know which ones). NOT SHOWING your anger as a child??? There could have been some pretty heavy consequences if you HAD shown your anger.

I am so sorry you had so much anger erupt when you grew older that it back-fired??

Please try to be happy that you ARE still going along on your journey...there are many limp-ers. Some can hide it, some make use of help as best they can. Just keep working on stuff.

What about the adage Time Heals all Wounds? Best wishes.

April 29, 2007
8:11 pm
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fantas
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Chico, I really thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It's really helpful to me. Feel assured that you are at the right place in your healing journey. You have come from feeling nothing to remorse...that's a lot of growth. When it's time to address how your past affected your behaviour, it will be very natural perhaps not pleasant but you wont feel resistance to it. Dealing with the remorse and consequences of your actions seem to be the dominant issues right now. Keep searching and the answer will come to you...all the best to you. Your courage in dealing with this is empowering:)

April 29, 2007
10:27 pm
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Chico,

Maybe many of these questions cannot be answered in therapy. Every therapist has their own orientation to psychotherapy. Maybe the two of you just are ot meshing. Maybe a different therapist if this cannot be worked out?

Perhaps these are more spiritually based questions about how you think of concepts such as forgiveness, spirit, god, karma. Psychotherapy often attempts to maintain a values free approach, but if one lives life from the perspective of thinking about and practicing values, or thinks about the 12 steps, I am not sure if most psychotherapy is on that wave length. It has its limitations.

I know there came a point in my self growth early on where I sorted out my belief system, which is different from the Protestant one I grew up with. I was self punishing enough of myself and people in my life handed out their share of abuse. I developed a new kinder, gentler way of looking at many of the ideas mentioned above. I don't really believe there's "payback" in any significant sense, nor do I believe any situation is hopeless, and many people have benefitted from looking at all things spiritual in new ways. Our beliefs about things are the foundation of our lives. I personally don't believe we came here to suffer through life at all, and I think forgiveness of self and others is the foundation of healing many things, but, again, that's my belief and this is kind of getting out of the realm of this site here.

I don't go to 12 step meetings, but I am working through a 12-step workbook on codependency and I hang with some 12 step people, and the wisdom and value of the 12 steps is really the answer to many of these kinds of problems and it totally resonates with me.

I am sure you will find your own answers. Nothing is hopeless.

April 30, 2007
2:30 pm
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Chico--

I also remember your thread. I also have had some issues with previous therapists blaming everyone but me for all of my problems.

I have figured out for myself, and thought that I would share my findings with you--of course it is just my opinion, take it or leave it.

I grew up in one of those families that had to look perfect to everyone all of the time. It was, in reality, a complete mess, filled with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. I learned many of my adult codependency traits from my mother. I have never had a successful relationship with a man because she did not show me by example how to do it. I never learned how to make decisions because my father never let me make any (including where I went to college and who my first husband was going to be).

Needless to say, when I walked into therapy for the first time, I was hurt, confused, depressed and not sure of who I was and who I was going to be. I did not understand why I was the way I was, and was stuck in a "why me" place.

My therapist talked with me a great deal about my relationships with my parents and growing up. It was frustrating to me to that she was blaming my parents for the way that I was brought up. I struggled with blaming them because I truly do love them.

To make a long story a little bit longer, I learned through time that I needed to grieve the fact that my parents did not raise me right. I needed to come to terms with the fact that my parents had a responsibility to raise me to become healthy and independent. They did not do this job. They failed at parenting. I needed to accept their failure before I could do anything else.

The big part of this, however, is this is not the end of the healing process for me. Yes, I could stay at that point and blame them for the rest of my life. "I'm screwed up because my parents made me this way." And, to tell you the truth, many people get caught at this stage in the game, and they never finish the path towards emotional healthiness.

I have chosen to accept their failures and better myself. I made a concious choice to make improvements in myself, so that I do not repeat the same pattern with my own children. I do not have to finish learning and growing because they screwed up--I should continue learning and growing because they screwed up.

The process has not been easy. I still struggle every day with the things that I am changing. All I can do is hold on to the fact that I don't have to stay on the path that I was on so many years ago.

I am glad that my therapist gave me the chance to get over what my parents did and start working on me. I am not sure if I would be the same if I did not take the time to grieve like I did.

Just an idea......good luck.
s2

April 30, 2007
6:24 pm
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Soprano,

That is such a well-said, beautiful post about what healing is about. I can really identify with so many things you have said, and I work on it every day. I forgot about all the grieving I did in the past, but it seems like I was in grieving for years over the coming to terms of who my parents were and were not. Neither of mine were great parents, but I still love them. They certainly were better than others too. One is still living, one is not.

They too grew up with their own parents who probably could not give them all of what they needed and circumstances that could have been worse than ours. They also grew up in different times and different ways of thinking about things. Sometimes I think the blaming is too harsh and not reality based, because we have judged them based in our experience of now, not always remembering that life was very different many decades again.

One of the joys of my life is the positive relationship I have with my mother. There are so many things to appreciate about her. She's not a perfect being, neither am I. I certainly saw her differently in years past. She has no idea all the inner work I have done to come to terms with some kind of healing, but, as with any healing, its all worth it. I could have stayed in blame, but I would have missed out of someone very precious to me.

April 30, 2007
10:21 pm
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Problems dont happen in a vacuum. When u are a child the people who had the most power and responsibility in your life could have played a big role in your problems. But, once you become an adult its about taking responsibility for your choices and not allowing people from you child hood to influence your thoughts and feelings.

May 1, 2007
2:44 pm
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Thanks gracenotes for the compliment.

I am glad that you have a good relationship with your mother. Mine is pretty good as well. It took a while to get there, but I am glad that we both have been working on it over the years.

May 6, 2007
6:53 pm
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Well I would think that any therapist worth their salt wouldn't say that blaming others is what that exercise was about.

Perhaps what the therapist is trying to do is to allow you to reveal to yourself that these past relationships helped shape who you are/were. It's less about blame than it is getting someone to understand that hey, what happened to you wasn't your fault, but it has created issues for you. and they are now your responsibility when it comes to how you interact with others.

Have you spoken to your therapist about what you think/feel in this matter?

May 7, 2007
1:29 am
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red blonde
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What happened to us as children often is reflected in how we deal with things now and in the future. We tend to repeat patterns. And as adults we often suppress memories of our childhood - especially if treated badly. If you are uneasy about laying blame or if there isn't any blame to be laid on someone else, then tell your therapist how and why you feel about it. The therapist may have been misinterpreting something you have said.

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