Defense Mechanisms and Blame

Defense Mechanisms and Blame. Psychology Fanatic article header image
Defense Mechanisms and Blame. Psychology Fanatic
(Adobe Stock Images)

We react to experience. Chemicals flow through our veins, changing rhythms, speeding heart beats and tightening muscles. The changes to the comfortable biological balances motivate action to regain homeostasis. Often this process goes smoothly and unnoticed, motivating action, and directing change without breaking through the veils of consciousness. Other times, the feeling experience morphs into emotions—painful and disruptive—demand attention, commandeering mental faculties and sending us into a momentary tailspin. We can focus on nothing else. A common way of seeking relief is externalizing the cause. According to psychology, we find relief by identifying a cause to our sorrow. And if we can point a finger outside of our realm of control, often this provides additional relief. So, we blame.

When we experience emotion, we typically respond with correcting action. Many actions are appropriate and effective. We grieve and then heal. We follow emotional upheavals with calmness. However, moving from experience to emotion and then to correcting behaviors is more complex than a simple chain reaction. The gravel of experience gets caught in the learning machinery, slowing the process, and warping the gears. We engage in maladaptive responses, slowing or halting appropriate behaviors and crippling our return to a better state of being.

​We invite hurtful escapes to defend the ego and soothe the emotion. We respond with mental constructions that distort and behaviors that hurt. According to psychology, blame serves this purpose.

Improving The Ability to Process Discomfort

Learning from experience improves our ability to identify cues of impeding dangers and helpful action to protect. Unlike the fixed structure of a machine, the mind and body adapt—the past intrudes on the present. Markedly, the adaptations, for the most part, are efficient and self-correcting, identifying dangers and opportunities with less information and scanty evidence.

Our growing reservoir of knowledge provides a competitive advantage. Experience becomes the guiding power that influences automatic chains of reaction. The pasts programs emotional responses, increasing sensitivities or building stoic tolerations. These adaptations influence the conscious and unconscious responses to experience.

Past Experiences Intrude on the Present

New events are not isolated from the past, intruding memories change biological responses; sometimes improving reactions and other times contaminating reaction with protective defenses. The past isn’t the only element coloring new experiences. Surrounding contexts and co-occurring events also impact the moment. Our current moods enhance or dull the response, underlying sorrow, uneasiness, anger or joy may completely change our perception.

​The new perceived experience continues the cycle of learning, creating a new memory and an adapted level of importance to similar circumstance. Our emotional existence is always in motion.

After a frustrating day at work, we respond with edginess, projecting frustrations on loved ones. With depleted mental resources, we may respond to a slight misstep with unreasonableness, exploding into anger—an undeserving victim suffers from our accumulated frustrations.

Self-deceptive mechanisms, working to protect the ego, blind the furious actor from the contextual influences, focusing attention on the perceived slight. Instead of a realistic examination of the multitude of causes, the ego defense system intervenes, and emotional escape is found through blame. Unmoderated the mind creates beautiful self-excusing stories to adapt and soothe strong emotion.

Recognizing Self Protective Blame

To heal, we must recognize the contaminates that poison our perceptions.

Because experience feels unique, untainted from pasts and surrounding contexts, we evaluate the current incident as isolated—only the trigger. We build our explanations of causes within these confining boundaries. And then, we justify our frustrated outbursts. “You did this and made me feel that,” we scream in blame. Our pointing the finger at someone in a narrow minded judgement relieves the pressure. We slip from shame and embarrassment to anger at being wronged.

If we were to skeptically examine the larger causes surrounding the isolated incident, we may discover a much more revealing story, exposing our contributions, and diminishing the power of faulty justifications. Our mindful consideration points to more of the toxic contributors to an emotion. We see the past spilling into the present. And importantly, we see the day’s frustrations that compounded and eventually drained energy that could have helped with a more disciplined and patient responses.

We Can Change Protective Patterns

With wisdom, and deliberate, productive reflection, we discover a more complex cause to the infiltrating emotions that disrupt security in important relationships. Indeed, Escaping through blame is simple—a learned response to re-balance discomforting experience; we claim victimhood and conveniently scoot around the guilt, with calloused ignorance of our meanness, we continue to disrupt lives and spoil futures by defensive blaming.

Emotions—pleasant and unpleasant—are biological function of living experience, intimately tied to well-being and action. Consequently. when we habitual blame others for discomfort, the maladapted approach weakens relationships, destroying intimacy with important others. Accordingly, our lovers and friends must build their own protections against our hurtful blaming. They may seek relief through disconnecting and distancing from the unfair danger of our explosive accusatory reactions. By blaming others, we lose significant sources of meaning and security. We need others to flourish. These connections are not entitlements; they demand careful and sensitive nurturing.

Join 50.2K other subscribers

You May Also Enjoy:

emotional attachment

Emotional Detachment

Definition, symptoms, and causes of emotional detachment. In some cases, the pain is too much…
Read More
Fooling Ourselves. Psychology Fanatic article header image

Manipulating Reality

Our awareness to our unconscious manipulating of reality begins a painful and rewarding process of…
Read More
Moral Justification. Psychology Fanatic article header image

Moral Justification

Moral justification is the cognitive construal of behavior to reconstruct cognitive interpretations of behavior in…
Read More

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

Discover more from Psychology Fanatic

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading