[Home]ResponsibilityAssumption

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According to the doctrine of responsibility assumption, TheIndividual has total responsibility for events and circumstances in their life. Taken to its extreme, it can justify absurd conclusions, such as: "you chose to have cancer and can just as easily become well if you choose".

In more moderate forms, responsibility assumption appears in nearly all motivational programs, some psychotherapy, and large group awareness training programs. It functions as a mechanism to point out that each individual does affect the perceived world by the decisions they make each day and the choices they made in the past.

"I must have wanted this" is a mantra used by some advocates when encountering an unpleasant situation. The phrase acts as a reminder to them that, according to their world view, their own choices led to the present outcome.

The est seminars popularized the concept in the 1970s (cf. EstLandmark?).

John Denver, who was a proponent of est, wrote two songs about it: Farewell Andromeda (1973) and Looking for Space (1975). The opening lines of Farewell Andromeda capture the essence of responsibility assumption:

''Welcome to my morning, welcome to my day
I'm the one responsible, I made it just this way
To make myself some pictures, see what they might bring
I think I made it perfectly, I wouldn't change a thing''

The same theme (amongst others) appears in Richard Bach's bestseller, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970). The same author addresses the topic more directly in a less-popular later book, Illusions.

Though these are among the most direct examples, varying degrees of responsiblity assumption formed a minor theme of the United States cultural landscape after the decline of the 1960s counterculture.

The doctrine has spiritual roots in the monism of Eastern and NewAge? religions, which hold that only one true being exists; that all people are one with each other and with God and hence have Godlike power within them. Among Christian churches, the Quaker and Unitarian Universalist denominations have belief systems that incorporate similar doctrinal elements.


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