In 2011, Hanna Pickard created a framework that separates responsibility and blame, based on her experience with patients suffering from Cluster B (or “bad”) personality disorders.
Responsibility is regarded as an individual’s accountability for their actions. If one is responsible, they are aware of the actions they have taken and choose to perform these actions willingly. On the other hand, Blame is separated into two types: detached and affective. Detached blame consists of an emotionless judgement as to whether an individual is “to blame” for an action they took and is usually followed by some sort of consequence, such as prison time, whereas affective blame, the harmful type, consists of “negative reactions and emotions” toward the blamed individual.
Pickard believes that affective blame has a detrimental effect on treatment outcomes and thus should be separated from responsibility and discarded from therapeutic practice. But how do we go about putting this into practice?
This is because Norway takes a rehabilitation approach to the treatment of inmates while serving their sentence. Similar to the UK and US, the amount of individuals with personality disorders in inmate populations is significantly higher than the general population (Cramer, 2016). However, prison in Norway consists of what Pickard refers to as holding them accountable “but in an environment that [...] may do better to help them address their offending behaviour and enable learning and change”.
The statistics speak for themselves in regards to the usefulness of the Responsibility without Blame framework in several areas where the percentage of individuals with personality disorders and general psychiatric disorders are high. These concepts are separable and the separation leads to successful outcomes regarding the aforementioned populations. In future, it would be exciting to see how this framework could apply to further systems.