Friday, July 03, 2015

Definition of Responsibility

Neurosis is defined as taking responsibility for things that are other people's responsibility, and personality disorders are defined as not taking responsibility for things that are one's own.

All this depends on how responsibility is defined. There are some systems that want everyone to be responsible for themselves, and there are other systems in which the responsibility is shared. According to each side, the other is both neurotic and personality disordered.

If someone can't find a job, the reasons can be both internal and external. It is possible that the economy is in a bad shape, that one's job has gone overseas, or that one's field has crashed. It is also possible that the person did a bad job for a former employee or mismanaged his education. Both of the above are possible. Which means that, as impacting upon that person, there is both his behavior – which he is in control of – and economic and social situation, of which he isn't. Responsibility can in this case belong to either party, or partly to both.

The same is the case in all situations that involve more than one person. A country may crash because it has a bad government, resulting in all sorts of people suffering for reasons that are not their fault. Economies can crash as well, likewise resulting in all sorts of people suffering for reasons that are not their fault. The responsibility here does not belong with the people at the receiving end of these wrongs; it belongs with the policy-makers and the entrepreneurs.

Responsibility is defined one way in America, another way in China. For that matter it is defined differently in Western Europe as well, and Western Europe does not have torture or labor camps. Each side will see the other as being guilty of neurosis and personality disorder. The real issue is the definition of responsibility.

Am I neurotic because I want to solve social and political problems and to contribute meaningfully to the civilization? Am I personality disordered because I want to be rewarded for this with appreciation and respect? A Texan may say yes. A Swede would say no.

I would like to bring up the example of an older lady who lives in the community where I live. She has been a nurse, raised three good sons, and carries a lot of influence in the community. She is willing to go out of her way to help people, but she wants to be appreciated for that and gets very angry when she isn't. Is this neurosis or personality disorder? I think not. This is a good human being, and she has every right to demand appreciation for the good things that she does.

The real issue is as follows: Who is responsible, and for what? A gangster may be seen as either irresponsible or disadvantaged, depending upon who talks. The people who have had their jobs go to China or Mexico may be seen as losers, or they may be seen as having been betrayed by corporate America. In most cases, the responsibility is part-internal, part-external. And then of course there are situations when it is solely either of the above.

There are many places in which women do all the hard work while their men spend their time beating them up or killing their fellow man. Under the Soviet system, there were some people who did all the hard work and many others who leeched off of them. And in America, we see some places discouraging social-oriented or system-oriented thinking and blaming the people who get dislocated or impoverished for wrongs that are due to bad business practices, wrong policies or irresponsible greed.

It is necessary to come up with a workable definition of who is responsible for what. This definition needs to be fair and factual. All that contributes positively should be rewarded, and all that contributes negatively should be punished. And then – only then – will it be possible to come up with a workable definition of what is neurosis and what is personality disorder.


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