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taking responsibility

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by The2abraxis, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. The2abraxis

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    I have had this certain line of reasoning on "taking responsibility for your emotions" for a bit, and I was wondering if it makes any sense. The one person I try to discuss it with doesn't agree (or "half agrees"), but doesn't give a convincing argument. I was wondering if you guys could take a listen and see if this makes any sense:

    My friend keeps saying "You made me sad", "You made me angry", "This game makes me angry", etc... From my few readings in "LBT" as Dr. Cohen calls it (logic based therapy, which essentialy is RET), I have come to understand that one should taking responsibility for their emotions, and report "I made myself angry", "I made myself sad", etc...

    This seems congruent with the popular theories of emotion:

    stimulus----appraisal----emotion

    So they agree with that part, that there is input, but they don't think it is important that they say "I made myself this way".

    So that is what I have been trying to refute. The line of reasoning I have been using in that it is important is that by saying "He made me feel this way", you are doing 2 dangerous things:

    1. Ignoring the fact that you have a say in what emotion you feel/how you feel it
    2. Assume that you are justified in feeling that emotion, because hey, they made you feel that way!

    If you say "I made myself feel this way", you show that you have control of how you feel, which can be very empowering. So by accepting that you decide how you feel, one can learn they don't HAVE TO react a certain way, but there is a choice

    Also, if you say "I made myself feel this way", you get a chance to look at your line of reasoning for feeling the emotion. If you find out it is irrational/maladaptive/etc..., then you get a chance to stop yourself from feeling the emotion (anger, sadness, etc...) and letting it get to you (of course with practice!).

    So I ask you, does this make any sense? I know I switched you's and one's around, but ignore that :)
     
  2. Ollie123

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    Internally, that is sort of how I operate and I like to think I'm not a complete basket case;)

    That said, its a bit tricky in therapy because you need to balance responsibility with guilt that might accompany it, etc. and I worry it would involve walking a very fine line that could lead to either poor rapport, or worsening symptoms.

    Though tangentially, I'll add that I DO think the biggest problem with society as a whole right now is people's unwillingness to accept responsibility for their part in ANYTHING. I'm not arguing against compassion but I think we tend to get caught up in the "Its not your fault its x" attitude as psychologists. Not that "x" isn't important, just that I think we often ignore that no matter what happens, autonomy almost always plays some sort of role, and I find it counterproductive when psychologists try and place the blame squarely on the media, the environment, the parents, etc.

    I realize the vast majority of psychologists are not this way, but the few who are tend to irritate me;)
     
  3. racek

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    makes sense, but maybe it would be a good idea to first be confident that the individuals you are speaking about can correctly identify their emotions. otherwise, i doubt they would take responsibility for something they had trouble in recognizing (perhaps because they don't want to take responsibility).
     
    #3 racek, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  4. KillerDiller

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    While I think your idea is interesting, I could see it backfiring as well. Just as there are people who are always looking to externalize the blame for their emotions and behaviors onto other sources, there are people who take on entirely too much responsibility for what is occurring and are prone to feeling guilty. One wouldn't, for example, want to tell a client who is depressed and having excessive feelings of guilt that it is his fault he is feeling sad. That would just be adding fuel to the fire. Similarly, some clients have difficulty with assertiveness and with expressing their emotions in interpersonal interactions. They should be encouraged to tell others when they are angry without it having to sound like a confession.

    Then again, take the above with a grain of salt. I am somewhat skeptical of the cognitive component of CBT and I question whether working with thoughts really adds anything to the efficacy of simple behavioral activation.
     
  5. OP
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    The2abraxis

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    thanks for the replies!

    "
    makes sense, but maybe it would be a good idea to first be confident that the individuals you are speaking about can correctly identify their emotions. otherwise, i doubt they would take responsibility for something they had trouble in recognizing (perhaps because they don't want to take responsibility)."
    I definitely agree.
    "While I think your idea is interesting, I could see it backfiring as well. Just as there are people who are always looking to externalize the blame for their emotions and behaviors onto other sources, there are people who take on entirely too much responsibility for what is occurring and are prone to feeling guilty. One wouldn't, for example, want to tell a client who is depressed and having excessive feelings of guilt that it is his fault he is feeling sad. That would just be adding fuel to the fire. Similarly, some clients have difficulty with assertiveness and with expressing their emotions in interpersonal interactions. They should be encouraged to tell others when they are angry without it having to sound like a confession.

    Then again, take the above with a grain of salt. I am somewhat skeptical of the cognitive component of CBT and I question whether working with thoughts really adds anything to the efficacy of simple behavioral activation. "
    I see your point and agree (except of course the cognitive components of CBT :-D). It can definitely backfire if a person always blames themselves blindly without thinking about it (the opposite extreme of this :-D), but by recognizing that they make themselves feel that way, this gives them the opportunity to see whether or not the feeling is justified, and realize they have a choice in how they feel. For ex: If a person gets punched in the face for no reason, they should recognize that they make themselves feel angry (because they could feel scared, hopeless, happy, or anything, but they chose anger), but in this case it is justified because cmon, they got punched in the face for no reason. On the other side of the spectrum if a person goes into deep depression because they got a 94 instead of a 95 on a test (extreme example I know :-D), they should recognize that they make themselves sad (they could be happy, angry, confused, anything, but they chose sadness), and by doing this they give themselves a chance to realize that going into deep depression because their expectations were not met 110% is not very rationally justified.
    Of course, just because they give themselves the chance does not mean they will be like "Oh, this isn't justified, I won't feel this way", but that is a whole different story.
    So by telling the depressed person it is his fault that he is guilty (not the stigmatized "his fault", but really he played a major role in how he feels) may allow him to realize he has a choice in what he is feeling, and also challenge the guilty feelings. If he blames it on the outside, there is no way he can feel control or even challenge it, because if something outside caused it, then it must be justified.
    please challenge this if you disagree, i would be more clear but i have to go to class :-[
     
  6. Psyched77

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    I assume you're talking about having someone say "I made myself angry..." in the therapeutic setting??? Because if people were to go around saying that in everyday situations (based on social norms), it might interfere with their interpersonal skills (appraisal from others). I only make this distinction because of the example you gave at the top of the first post. No matter how aware I may be of the fact that I'm in control of my own emotional reactions, I'm not going to go out into the world & spew novels of psychological theory onto unsuspecting laypersons.
     
  7. JockNerd

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    I think just getting to "I made myself (whatever)" is missing an essential component of the therapy that extends beyond just acknowledgement of responsibility and control and into the underlying reasons behind the irrationally negative emotions and thoughts. There was a reason for getting (whatever emotion). So, not "I made myself sad that I got a 94 on the test," but "I made myself sad that I got a 94 on the test because I have a ridiculous belief that if I get less than 95, I suck as a human being. There are plenty of reasons why that's not true. Here they are. Number one..."
     
  8. Anon15

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    You may be interested in the work of James Gross. His work on emotion and emotion regulation (i.e. cognitive reappraisal) sounds very similar to what you describe above.

    He is a link to his web page at Stanford:

    http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~psyphy/papers.html
     
  9. OP
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    The2abraxis

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    "I assume you're talking about having someone say "I made myself angry..." in the therapeutic setting??? Because if people were to go around saying that in everyday situations (based on social norms), it might interfere with their interpersonal skills (appraisal from others). I only make this distinction because of the example you gave at the top of the first post. No matter how aware I may be of the fact that I'm in control of my own emotional reactions, I'm not going to go out into the world & spew novels of psychological theory onto unsuspecting laypersons."

    Heck ya! I was thinking of this for a therapeutic technique. Sorry for the confusion :-D

    "I think just getting to "I made myself (whatever)" is missing an essential component of the therapy that extends beyond just acknowledgement of responsibility and control and into the underlying reasons behind the irrationally negative emotions and thoughts. There was a reason for getting (whatever emotion). So, not "I made myself sad that I got a 94 on the test," but "I made myself sad that I got a 94 on the test because I have a ridiculous belief that if I get less than 95, I suck as a human being. There are plenty of reasons why that's not true. Here they are. Number one..."

    Completely agree. That what I was getting at in the second dangerous aspect of saying "He made me feel this way" (first post). By believing, "I made myself…" you give yourself the opportunity to find the thoughts/beliefs behind the emotion. So ya, they would say "I made myself sad that I got a 94 on the test", then they can begin to see if it is justified rationally (like you stated). If they say "He made me feel this way", this assumes one does not have a say in how they felt, so they lose the chance to challenge the view/belief/thought that formed the emotion. I think we are on the same page, if not, let me know :-D

    "You may be interested in the work of James Gross. His work on emotion and emotion regulation (i.e. cognitive reappraisal) sounds very similar to what you describe above.

    He is a link to his web page at Stanford:

    http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~psyphy/papers.html "

    Ill be sure to check it out, thanks!
     
  10. Psyched77

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    Ok, I'm up with you now. :) Then yes, I think that it would be a beneficial exercise.
     
  11. OP
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    The2abraxis

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    "Ok, I'm up with you now. :) Then yes, I think that it would be a beneficial exercise"

    Ya, im sure everyone has their belief about the one thing that everyone should do, and if they did, it would make the world a better place. But if a person is living well w/o using this tool, then why change (they probably have a different coping mechanism, etc...)
     
  12. ClinicalGal

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    if you're interested in this type of thinking, definitely check out Glasser's Choice Theory. http://www.wglasser.com/ He writes all about choosing your emotions and controlling the way you react in situations.
     
  13. JockNerd

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    Sometimes I think that all psychologists ever do is rename ideas Williams James had.

    :)
     
  14. OP
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    The2abraxis

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    ah cool stuff, I have seen his book in passing at the book store, ill be sure to pick it up. is it a good read?
     
  15. WannaBeDrMe

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    truth
     

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