Blame and Moral Disengagement in High-Conflict Divorce

What are implications of this Moral Disengagement approach to high conflict divorce?

Professionals need to change ourselves in addition to helping our clients. What we need to do is to activate, promote and encourage the parts of ourselves and our colleagues that are capable of moral engagement, and to make ourselves, and our clients, aware of the cycle of blame and harm.  

Interventions for high conflict divorce should take into account moral disengagement and destructive blaming.  Just as therapists often teach our patients about cognitive distortions which support states of depression, feelings of helplessness and anxiety, we must be willing and able to teach parents to change their thinking, and to increase awareness of the destructive mechanisms I have outlined today. Awareness of these tactics of disengagement, blame, and dehumanization should be an important step in intervention.

  • Finally, a question:  Is the system we use for resolving family conflicts one which encourages moral disengagement and runaway blaming?

Is an adversarial legal system a trap into which we fall prey when dealing with the intense and highly personal issues in the renegotiation of family relationships?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take strong positions or advocate for them, but this needs to be tempered by an awareness of these issues relating to blame.

While I might fantasize about a radical change, I don’t expect us to dispense with this system.  But we participants in this system need to understand how the system, as currently practiced, can contribute a breakdown in our clients’ and our own ethical and moral controls

It is harder to dispense with our moral standards and sanctions if we think about the people with whom we are dealing as human beings like ourselves, with whom we can identify and empathize.