Rationalization – Denial of the Victim:

As the next topic in our series of posts dissecting each of the rationalization techniques, we will discuss Denial of the Victim. Often labeled ‘victim blaming’, denial of the victim occurs when we want to excuse unethical behavior with thoughts like “He had it coming” and other similar ideas. Through this rationalization, we convince ourselves that the wounded party is actually at fault, and therefore, not a victim at all.

A prime example of denial of the victim is the Bernie Madoff situation. Madoff is infamous for running the world’s largest Ponzi scheme which caused many people to lose exorbitant amounts of money. Despite reportedly acknowledging to his sons that it was all “one big lie”, Madoff showed no signs of guilt or remorse when interviewed 5 years into his 150-year prison sentence. He managed this by passing all guilt onto his investors. In his interview, Madoff claimed that his investors were sophisticated and they “should have known better” than to invest in his fund. He also claimed that he was pushed into running the Ponzi scheme by others and that the banks on Wall Street were complicit in his scheme.

Those guilty of using the denial of the victim technique disregard their own accountability in making poor ethical decisions. Watch a recap of the Madoff interview HERE.

A series of blog posts focusing on rationalization techniques will continue over the next several weeks. In the meantime, read more about them in The Business Ethics Field Guide (contact Merit Leadership to purchase a copy now).