Blame is a universal concept that most human beings experience at one point or another in their lives. For most of us, blaming behavior has become so second nature, that it goes unnoticed and ignored at times. In The Blame Game: The Complete Guide to Blaming: How to Play and How to Quit, Neil Farber, M.D., Ph.D, takes us through all the intricate facets of the phenomenon he has coined “The Blame Game.”
The 156-page book is divided neatly into eleven informative chapters. Throughout the heart of the book, Farber leads us through how we learn to blame, why we blame, how we blame, who we blame, and what we blame. He also includes chapters that explain and define the blame game, as well as a chapter giving the reader reasons to stop blaming and some benefits of doing so. The book concludes with a small summarizing chapter that gives the book a thorough and cohesive stopping point.
This book is extremely user-friendly. Though blaming may be seen or experienced as a shameful or negative behavior at times, Farber always approaches the topic with respect, humor, lightheartedness and tact. This approach allows the reader to truly reflect on their own blaming behaviors without feeling threatened or attacked, only further enhancing the book’s effectiveness.
Another strong point of the book is the continual use of current events in society to support Farber’s points. Farber devotes an entire chapter to explaining various historical and societal events where blaming behavior was at the heart of the issue, and has either caused an event or greatly influenced its outcome. This is effective in that it allows the reader to understand the concept of blaming within the broader context of society, rather than solely from the reader’s personal experiences, which may or may not be biased. It also helps to remove some of the stigma from the behavior of blaming, again allowing the reader to freely explore their own blaming habits without feeling as if they are an anomaly or a bad person.
Farber emphasizes that we all use blaming behaviors at some point, and that most of us blame in order to avoid responsibility, satisfy some inherent biological need, or externalize our problems or difficulties onto others. In fact, Farber goes so far as to say that blaming is an innate need, and even more so in today’s society. This clear distinction again allows the reader to continue approaching the information in the book from a place of openness and willingness.
Once a firm foundation and understanding of the ways one uses blaming behaviors is established, Farber goes on to discuss how to “quit the game” (i.e. stop blaming) and tells us what benefits we may gain in the process. Farber encourages readers to take responsibility, judge favorably, acknowledge one’s own sense of control, and use empathy with others to decrease blaming behaviors. Farber states that some of the benefits of discontinuing blaming behavior include: having more control of your life, better mental health, better relationships, more respect, better health and increased career success.
Overall, the book is very effective and serves its purpose for its intended audience of the general public. Farber, I believe, aimed to write a book that would be applicable to everyone from all walks of life and with all sorts of personal experiences with both being blamed, and blaming others. Drawing on this universality, Farber helps the reader to understand that blaming is modeled for us and imposed on us from the very first days of our lives, and that it is difficult, yet entirely possible, to disengage from this behavior and live a better life.
In thoroughly discussing the implications of blaming, how it hurts our relationships and opportunities in life, Farber seals into our minds just how beneficial quitting the blame game will be to our day-to-day interactions. Without blatantly coming across as a “how-to” book, The Blame Game: The Complete Guide to Blaming: How to Play and How to Quit takes the reader on a journey that hopefully ends at a place where making changes in blaming behavior is both possible and desired by the reader.
The Blame Game: The Complete Guide to Blaming: How To Play and How To Quit
By Neil E. Farber, M.D., Ph.D
Bascom Hill Publishing Group: November 1, 2010
Paperback: 182 pages