Saturday, July 30, 2011

Externalizing - Examining Psychology Part 1

Before examining the intriguing world of psychology I had a term titled "excuses." Psychology makes an art form of dissecting this into more understandable parts. The one I'd like to examine in this post is externalizing. An explanation of this is given as follows _

By shifting the blame for your offending behavior on to some one else, you avoid responsibility for the offense. It is often common to externalize blame prior to a court appearance. Examples include: “She came on to me, it was her idea”; “My wife said I should teach her daughter about sex; “My uncle did it to me - it's in our family”

Externalizing can cross over into some of the other areas of excuses that can be given. So the lines aren't always clear. Yet by keeping the focus on the name we can get the idea.

As the example given above is set at sex-offenders only, I'd like to look at some other areas.

We can attempt to externalize shop-lifting by saying things such as, "my brother dared me," "my mother wanted the item," "they rip people off with their prices, so its only fair they get ripped off."

We can attempt to justify violence against another by saying that he asked for it by some statement or action.

Understanding that these types of excuses do not excuse the action or lack thereof, is very important. However on the other side this has created an atmosphere where Psychology has been turned into a science rather than a collection of good philosophies.

The other side of the examples above is that some may actually believe them deep down. And they may be accurate in some instances. Most psychologists just hear something that fits under an excuse type and then label it with that excuse.

Qualifying Actions VS Externalizing:

A lady comes up to you and asks you to help her put some items in her car. You begin to help and out comes a store detective to arrest you both for theft as she had not paid for the items.

When in jail you face the (mostly) dreaded prison psychologist. You inform them that you only did it because she asked. They inform you that you are externalizing the blame. So what happened to qualifying actions? Where does that fit in their science?

What has started as a good philosophy has now become a science of keeping the innocent in jail and releasing the guilty. Here we are talking about real people like you and I. Kept in jail by another one of man's non-sciences.


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Jason said...

Hey, this is Jason. We've exchanged emails a few times and I couldn't find a better place to contact you, so hopefully you'll get this.

Over the past year or more as I've studied the gospel and tried to BE the disciple I know I can become, over time I tend to just drift back to my lowest common denominator-- meaning- I hit and miss reading my scriptures by myself and with my wife... time goes by then I refocus and then drift. There are other areas of my life where I see this type of pattern happen and I think the root cause is I don't have enduring righteous desires. The thing I've been studying is how do I maintain these desires? How do I cultivate them in other areas? I know that if I keep trying I'll grow slowly and maybe within 30 years I'll be much better than I am now, but I know that if I can better understand or cultivate enduring righteous desires, I can get there much sooner.

Just thought I'd shoot you a question to see if you have any thoughts. Thanks in advance.


Doug Towers said...

Jason's question was answered on my Questions and Answers site in October.