Blame: Take Two
I guess, like anyone, blame and shame are my biggest issues. In reality, I would never blame a child for the atrocities of its parents; I would see him or her as innocent, and a victim of their parent’s wrong doings. Yet, when it comes to me, I cannot. I blame myself and no matter how much the evidence is stacked up against my parents, I cannot change it. If I even try, it feels like lies.
One of the factors of blame, is understanding the’ why’ question, and because that is almost impossible to answer, the only conclusion a child can draw on, is that it must be their fault.
For those who read this blog and don’t know, I study Psychology and during a recent lesson, we studied a Psychologist named, Stanley Milgram.
He investigated why Nuremberg war criminals in WWII, carried out acts of genocide. Was it simply because Germans were made different and, therefore, cruel?
He believed they were, and tested his theory with an experiment. He asked ordinary people to volunteer as teachers and had actors as the learner. The teachers thought they were simply there for a memory test, but that was not the case.
Milgram set up the teacher and the learner in different rooms. The learner was strapped to a chair and attached to a buzzer that gave them an electric shock. The teacher was in another room and asked the learner a question. For each question they got wrong, the teacher would administer an electric shock. These shocks went along a scale, starting at nothing more than a quick nip of volts, to 450 volts, which was fatal.
In the room with the teacher, was an experimenter, (an actor) who appeared to be taking notes and watching. The teacher could not see the learner, only hear them.
However, what they really heard, was a recorded voice. They weren’t really electrocuting people, they just believed they were. Eventually, as the voltage got higher, the voice would plead, asking for no more, and eventually it went silent, leaving the teacher not knowing if the learner was unconscious or simply not responding.
Of course, as the cries or the silence got worse, the teacher often became stressed, but the experimenter in the room would simply state that it was vital to the experiment and to please continue (they did have the right to leave at any time).
Milgram found that over 60% of people went to the fatal 450volts and, when asked later, he concluded that like the Nazi, it was not down to ethnicity, but rather obedience. If people did not hold the blame, they could continue.
My father, like many the same, told me, it was my fault. I wanted it. I asked for it. I liked it and his personal favourite that I gained everything in my life through sex. It would seem the case, even using it to gain my father’s love and attention. The way he worded thing caused me to take the blame because what he said was logical.
What if Milgram’s theory applies here? My father convinced himself that it was what I wanted. He believed his own lies, removed blame, and gave it to me. He believed he was doing what I wanted, what I liked and what I offered. He was being obedient.
Making it my fault and not his, made it okay for him to do what he did.