Why do we take the blame?

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Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
In my case, it's multiple traumas.. Last one is a death. Of course I blame myself. I was shown that he was going to die but yet I could say nothing.

I know.. Sounds like a spacey post but I had premonitions ( some real, some were not real) before I was diagnosed. The thing is, I knew. I could say nothing and then when he died, I still went thru the motions as if I didn't know.. So it makes no difference if a person knows or not. The outcome is the same.

His death would be the greatest loss of my life. I couldn't cope for days that turned into years, afterwards.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
Where is that automatic believe is coming from?
When did u or Freida learn or felt or made or felt that?
This is the other part of the question. why do we think that in the first place? For me a lot of it was because I was flat out told it was my fault.

I wonder if that is part of it? Does self blame change based on type of trauma??
 

Friday

Moderator
I wonder if that is part of it? Does self blame change based on type of trauma??

It tends to. Some of the most common?
  • Military & First Response - I was supposed to protect them. It’s my fault. I failed.
  • Child Abuse - They were supposed to protect me. That I wasn’t, was my fault. I don’t deserve.
  • Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence - If I had only done XYZ differently it wouldn’t have happened. I should have...
The 180 degrees of difference between childhood trauma & combat/first response, and that sexual assault & DV share the exact same party line? Never fails to make me tilt my head and go “Huh.”
 
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Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
In my case, it's multiple traumas.. Last one is a death. Of course I blame myself. I was shown that he was going to die but yet I could say nothing.

I know.. Sounds like a spacey post but I had premonitions ( some real, some were not real) before I was diagnosed. The thing is, I knew. I could say nothing and then when he died, I still went thru the motions as if I didn't know.. So it makes no difference if a person knows or not. The outcome is the same.

I'm sorry for your loss, Deanna.

Have you ever thought the premonitions et all are not about & for *him*, so that you beat yourself up harder after...

But for *you*? So you know ahead how gutting it will be... and can prepare for the loss on an angle you can. Being you.

Because you need to be kept in life, and be there for you, since they (the beloved deceased people) wanted to be there for you, but had to go.
 
Child sexual abuse
I remember almost being glad, while it was happening, that it was better that it was me rather than my older sister/another child because I was strong enough to take it. I could push it aside and not let it affect me. I was 5 years old at the time. Several times I put myself in a compromised position to make sure my sister was safe. Making it about self sacrifice would mean there would not be another victim. Telling myself I was okay and strong enough to be that person stopped me from being a victim and turned me into a warrior. That was how I made it all okay. How my child’s mind could decide that, I don’t know. But I don’t blame myself for any of it.

Adult intimate partner emotional and mental abuse - I absolutely blame myself for ‘accepting’ it and staying in the relationship. But the relationship didn’t start out that way at all. I understand narcissism, trauma bonding, and cognitive dissonance better now. I am working on forgiving myself for it. I have made huge strides but at times my inner voice still speaks very negatively to me.
 
It tends to. Some of the most common?
  • Military & First Response - I was supposed to protect them. It’s my fault. I failed.
  • Child Abuse - They were supposed to protect me. That I wasn’t, was my fault. I don’t deserve.
  • Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence - If I had only done XYZ differently it wouldn’t have happened. I should have...
The 180 degrees of difference between childhood trauma & combat/first response, and that sexual assault & DV share the exact same party line? Never fails to make me tilt my head and go “Huh.”
Lots of gaslighting can be involved in DV/sexual abuse, which is IMO a grown-up's version of grooming.

I think our self-blame also comes from the changes that happen to the brain during trauma. It's an overcompensation, trying to keep us safe from things that have already happened. But in PTSD, past events are confused with present events, and it becomes a feedback loop.
 

grit

Not Active
I think as most others eluded here...the blame or basically the belief of the projection of the trauma truly depends on the relational aspect of the persons involved. Getting raped by stranger as an adult trauma is easier story to hear to most people than a sexual abuse by a parent when one is child or if a child experiences a trauma outside of the family unit but the family, did not or could not or many other reasons, knew how to regulate the child or process the experience or provide other alternative memories to overcompensate the trauma.

I feel and I could be wrong when an adult feels or "takes" the blame of a trauma is very different than when a child "takes" the blame of the trauma or internalise the reaction of the adult around the trauma who did not act accordingly to the child (or the sensitivity level of the child).

The consistency of reaction from loved ones or as called often family secrets or avoidance of the trauma of the child can create very easily in the mind of the child, that was his or her fault. Cause the child did not have an adult to take the burden, digest, and transmute back to the child in different format of loving experience. When the child becomes the adult that saves her/his self as often called the parentified child, then of course it is just logical the child would feel so powerful to survive on its own accord. An example, a pet dying is very traumatic for a 5 yrs old and truly can screw them forever but if the parents or adult around reacted appropriately to the child at hand, the experience may be profoundly different...I am using this experience cause it is quite common among children who grew up with dogs. They learn death but imagine parents for whatever reason (maybe they are ill or unconscious or busy or no parental skills) reacting to get over it, a dog died...blaha..that is very weird and stuck developmental level for the child and will manifest as maladabtive including blaming the self as an adult. I feel sometimes from few people I met this experience of death and not having parents or loved ones to regulate and digest with gives anxiety to a lot of people about death. Quite common in the western world than most eastern worlds (where I am from)...cause death is often a taboo in the west.

It is complicated question to say at least.

Hard to answer without specifics of the person involved. Most relational trauma is subjective so we can all compare and contrast our experiences but at the end, there are so many nuances and human experiences factors to truly make hard to generalize.

It may not be very direct connection but to me this way of thinking (when it is not adaptive to one's life choices in the present) means that perhaps something very drastic happened before teen years and never got resolved and the adult got arrested developmentally at younger age. This does not mean a blame....it is just we become easily influenced and a therapist or authority person can make us feel it is our fault because we are arrested in that area - and we suffer from personal fable- to believe that. I read a lot of Jean Piaget's cognitive development stages and find them quite illuminating. I feel also I was quite arrested in many of these areas and can see how I had to re-learn them as an adult.

@Frieda
It feels to me a person you truly trust and believe is convincing you or convinced you as a child and this become part of your structural make up...but honestly the fact you narrow it down to a question tells me that also your natural critical mind is questioning this input clearly and feels it is an input rather than genetic. It feels to me you are conflicted believing this person trying to tell you it was your fault more or less and your internal knowledge telling you this does not make sense...that is a good step moving forward.

That is my take and it is brilliant question and one that often shows up in therapy as resistance...cause therapists (most of them) want to believe as an adult we should accept what happened to us but more often than not, we are not yet there to make sense of the story to own it. We are still sort of sorting the actual story.

I.e. I will disclose a lot of negative feelings I assigned to my mother when I fell into transference and were and are true, I am learning that I also have them ...so the blame can go other way too. I blamed my mother for a lot of things that I own them as an adult but not as a child. The process of therapy is confusing and if not proper can create even more confusion. Thank goodness, I could differentiate me from my mother to see where a story belonged both in the past and present.
 

Friday

Moderator
It may not be very direct connection but to me this way of thinking (when it is not adaptive to one's life choices in the present) means that perhaps something very drastic happened before teen years and never got resolved and the adult got arrested developmentally at younger age.

Can’t (and am not trying to) speak for @Freida... I have no idea what her childhood was like... but it’s been proposed countless times that in order for PTSD to happen in adult years that “something” must have happened during childhood years. But it’s been debunked/rejected/proven otherwise almost as often. As countless people with golden childhoods, from the entire raaaaaange of of backgrounds and experiences (every “type” of family, childhood, personality, etc.), go on to develop PTSD from trauma in adult years. Absolutely healthy, balanced, well rounded, secure, strong self confident individuals can be -and are- just as shattered by trauma, as those who are not.

The trauma itself is “enough” to cause PTSD. It doesn’t need an already damaged person.

There are many disorders & conditions out there that require some kind of priming, and others that must be present from childhood (as well as the opposite, if “the disturbance” is caused by an outside source or circumstance, it’s not that particular disorder)... so it was a valid line of scientific inquiry. Just one that’s been disproven. Hence Criterion A. The trauma happened. Then criterion’s B-F happened.

((It’s a line of inquiry that has been flogged to death by the US Military, by the by, as we’re not a socialized med country / they’ve been looking for yeeeeeears for a way to get out of paying for treatment/benefits of US Military personel with PTSD. If they can prove causation? That a person enlisted already defective in some way? Then it’s not “service connected”. So all the big money and bias has been on the side of proving PTSD requires some pre-existing circumstance in order to develop. It simply doesn’t.))

It’s something I looked into a whole helluva lot when I was new to learning about PTSD, because I’m one of those people who had a Golden childhood / come from a fantastic family. If it WAS a prerequisite? I wouldn’t have PTSD. I’d have something else. So I poured through articles, studies, proposed theories, findings, conclusions, etc... and despite the theory being raised time and time again? The consensus is : Trauma is enough to cause PTSD.
 

grit

Not Active
You have a lot of valid points. Trauma is truama....even being born is traumatic.

Acquiring trauma or having genetic components doesn't make difference in one's life when we all struggle.

But yes one trauma can shatter even the most integrated human. We are made of flesh after all.
My points were more information and about how I process my own cognitive limitations.

Good discussion.
 
I actually thinking one part is personality , intellect +/or nature: some people/ children are more inclined to internalize from the get go, others to externalize, maybe just the way their mind examines the situation?

I do think of a friend/ firefighter who said: "Woulda coulda shoulda.. Don't go there, don't, you just can't."
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
If it’s my fault? I can fix it.

***

There’s a longer answer tied up in this (and, yep. That core belief + trauma shit + avoidance are all woven together... making the whole much stronger than the sum of its parts. Like a rope.), but where my heads at right now, trying to trace the strands = a damn novel. TBI stuff. When I can concise it up, I’ll hit back.

Gotta think on this one.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
You all have some really awesome stuff for me to think about!
Where is this coming from? Who said this?
Dunno. Well - I take that back. I was told by those around me that some of what happened to me could have been prevented if I had only done XYA and that got internalized pretty deeply
f there was nothing I could do then, maybe it will happen again, because i have no way to stop it.
And it’s not about being told to take the blame. It’s about automatically taking the blame.
I take blame as punishment and control
- I survived so as a result I had a part in the event(s) - good, bad, indifferent. I blame me for my part so that it will NEVER happen again like it did then.
- blame for me is also protective - knowledge. Stay alert, watch for these things, behave this way, train for that, etc (when things went wrong, I can only hold myself accountable for my action or inaction)
And for what we are responsible for.
Yep -- all of these!!! So why, I wonder, do we put our own healing aside to keep those thoughts even when we know they aren't "true". (she says knowing that it's true! :banghead:)
The 180 degrees of difference between childhood trauma & combat/first response, and that sexual assault & DV share the exact same party line? Never fails to make me tilt my head and go “Huh.”
exactly!
But for *you*? So you know ahead how gutting it will be... and can prepare for the loss on an angle you can. Being you.
@Deanna - I was going to say the same thing ^^^
I think our self-blame also comes from the changes that happen to the brain during trauma. It's an overcompensation, trying to keep us safe from things that have already happened. But in PTSD, past events are confused with present events, and it becomes a feedback loop.
hmmm... I had not thought about that .... must percolate on it....
It feels to me you are conflicted believing this person trying to tell you it was your fault more or less and your internal knowledge telling you this does not make sense...
Yepper - that's me! But it's not an outside person. All my outside people are ready to smack me upside the head with my own feather duster to get me out of this mode. It's my critic yapping away
Absolutely healthy, balanced, well rounded, secure, strong self confident individuals can be -and are- just as shattered by trauma, as those who are not.
because I’m one of those people who had a Golden childhood / come from a fantastic family. If it WAS a prerequisite? I wouldn’t have PTSD. I’d have something else. So I poured through articles, studies, proposed theories, findings, conclusions, etc... and despite the theory being raised time and time again? The consensus is : Trauma is enough to cause PTSD.
Me too. I had some health issues that were problematic but overall my childhood was pretty awesome. To the point that the consensus is that the only reason I survived is that I had a great foundation of who I was and that gave me the resiliency to bounce back

which - reading thru all these responses makes me wonder again --
if we know why we are doing it...
why do we keep doing it?

ugh. to much thinking for my brain this late at night! :laugh:
 
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