Ill Behavior

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Psychological Excuses / Atrocities

Psychological literature gives folks excuses for behaviors, actions, atrocities, and even crimes committed.  In the background of each person, we can find ostensibly legitimate reasons for actions exhibited in the personality of the human being thus observed.  Unacceptable actions can be attributed to a set of wrongdoers because of their religion, nationality, and other erroneous concepts.  For example, if an Italian man is caught stealing, he is labeled a “natural” because of the relatively minute element of his fellow nationals that are criminal Mafiosi.  If an Irish individual is an alcoholic, his behavior is taken for granted by the ignorant, because the Irish are tainted erroneously as “drunks.”  A Jewish person who works hard to earn a living is besmirched with the anti-Semitic Shakespearean creation  “Shylock.”  The prejudices and false assumptions are endless.  Thus it is with the psychological attributes of atrocious, often psychopathic actions of members of the human species who exhibit unacceptable behavior.

We try to excuse despicable behaviors by searching for causes which will divert the blame or the responsibility for the ugly personality trait of the person that has disturbed us.  We find reasons to justify any wrongdoing.

We will here give some examples to exhibit what occurs in the alleged research that has been attributed to the causes of malfeasance:

The psychological counselor will dig into the background of “Chayim Yankel” who has imbibed in cannabis and has involved his brother in this sport of smoking marijuana.  The therapist will hold the parents responsible because “they were too soft and did not care enough to stop him from too many pleasures when he was a little boy.”  Kristopher Detucci stole out of his mother's purse at age fifteen.  The student of psychology insists that his parents did not give the poor adolescent spending money to do the things that he could enjoy with his peers.  “Is it any wonder then that he steals from the woman, the so called mother who did not understand his needs?”  “Ralph Thomas stares into space instead of paying attention to the teacher.  This is attributed to the fact that his father paid no attention to him and he now pays no attention in turn to any authority figure.”  Then there are the ADD and ADHD, etc. problems.  Many adults who do not want to do or allege they cannot concentrate or do certain tasks that they should do, claim that it is because as children they were restless, hyperactive, etc. and were “biologically” afflicted with these “diseases.”

There are the families that are torn apart, do not hang together, and do not have common bonds, who attribute their behavior, i.e. their withdrawing, to everything but themselves.  Caring is not a part of their being.  They must have scapegoats to hold responsible for their totally unacceptable behaviors.  There is the brother who blames a sister for his revulsion of her - a sister who loved him, supported him emotionally and otherwise.  He finds flaws since he has become a man of means and is assisted by his narcissistic, competitive wife who wants only her family to be his.  By besmirching his sibling, he is now free of all obligations or friendship with his once adoring family.

There is the adult who does not contact his old parents.  He has replaced them with other, more distant relatives who will admire him, to which he has no responsibilities and very little history.

There are the children who take pride in having  attractive tombstones erected at their parents' graves to show what good “children” they are, having paid very little attention to the “old folk” who they did not respect or please.

Excuses for not following the religion of their birth and their ancestors are many.  In Judaism (as well as in many other faiths) there are innumerable reasons to drop out of the tenets of the beliefs of “their fathers and forefathers.”  Why put on a prayer shawl in synagogue / temple, or phylacteries?  Why pray?  “It is a waste of time.” Why give Tzedakah (charity)?  It will only be misspent by the big shots, the useless Rabbi and Boards of the congregation?  Why believe in God?  This belief is child like and imaginary. “Why marry people of my own kind?  We are liberal and the others are bigots.  People are people.”  Why not steal? Just don’t get caught!  On and on it goes without cessation.  Frequently the parents are blamed because the adult child believed the strictures put upon him were too restrictive and if all that the parents believed were so good, why aren’t they rewarded with good health and wealth? Etc, etc.  Opposing beliefs can be cited and debated.  There are no absolutes.  The “meschumeds,” nonbelievers, debaters, and heretics can point out many wrongs that happen among congregations of “good” participants as well.  A person can be deleted from the Temple because he has some imperfections, which the “perfect individuals” cannot tolerate.  The righteous ones will justify their evil deeds by many so called righteous excuses. 

Let us remember our faith, the faith of our forefathers and mothers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Leah, Rebecca, Rachel, and more. Let us follow the ten commandments. Let us look into our lives, hold ourselves responsible for our own actions and our deeds without projecting them unto others who nurtured us and those that have given us life!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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