Be Survivor: Victim Mentality Bad For You!

Uploaded 1/28/2021, approx. 41 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and other books. I'm also a professor of psychology.

The next two lectures are going to deal with very, very touchy and sensitive subjects, subjects that fly in the face of political correctness and taboos. So stay tuned. And enjoy the bumpy ride in Sam Vaknin's theme park.

I am the last person to invalidate the harrowing experience of victimhood. I was the first person to describe in great detail narcissistic abuse in 1995.

Actually, I coined the phrases narcissistic abuse and victims of narcissistic abuse in the same year. But when victimhood becomes an ideology, when being a victim becomes a career, a profession, or an identity like in identity politics, being a victim becomes manipulative and pernicious.

Such victims turn into abusers, actually. They are obsessed with power, celebrity, perfection, and money. And if it sounds familiar, it's because it's a very good encapsulation of grandiose narcissism.

The only way out of victimhood is to assume full personal responsibility, to own your life, your choices, and the consequences of the choices you have made.

Any other way is wrong for you, unhealthy, pathologizes you, and keeps you sick. And should you immediately start owning up to your responsibilities and choices? Yes, you shouldn't spend even one day in a state of victimhood. It's bad for you.

Of course, there are many people out there who will tell you exactly the opposite while they take your money and laugh all the way to the bank.

So today, we're going to try to inject some science into all this. And we start by something called the Martyr Complex.

The Martyr Complex is an excellent description of this group of individuals online who self-style as empaths. Not to mention, super empaths, supernova empaths, and other infantile renditions of empaths.

Clinically, there's no such thing as an empath. I have said it a million times, but much worse than this.

Describing yourself as an empath and then adhering to the ideology of the empath movement of covert narcissists is very bad for your mental health.

In psychology, we have something called a Martyr Complex, also known as the Victim Complex. It's the feeling of being a Martyr and wanting to be a Martyr, wanting to be a victim, seeking out suffering or persecution because it fulfills some psychological need or some desire to avoid responsibility for your actions and choices.

Sometimes, the Martyr Complex is used as a gaslight form. It's used to shift the blame onto the victim. When you say to someone, you are Martyr, you are underestimating, devaluing and invalidating their experience as a victim.

And we will discuss what is a real victim, what is victimhood, and how you exit this state.

But there is definitely a group of people who love, adore, desire to be victims. And they feel that when they are persecuted, they are singled out because they are exceptional in some way, exceptionally empathic, exceptionally nice people, exceptionally good people, exceptionally able or with outstanding integrity.

There was a Theologian, Paul Johnson, and he was the first to point out that such beliefs about oneself are signs of mental health pathology.

And so, willful suffering is one aspect, and being emotionally invested in a state of victimhood, being a perpetual victim, a professional victim, deriving a sense of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence from being a victim.

This, my dears, is sick. And if you are one of these people, you need help. It's a form of masochism combined with narcissism.

I've been discussing the schizoid narcissism in previous videos. There's also a variant of masochistic narcissism.

Alan Berger described the masochistic, narcissistic elements of asceticism and penance in times gone by. Later on, in the second lecture, we will discuss the Carpmann drama triangle, Carpmann drama triangle, and how it fits into all this.

Now, don't misunderstand me. Many abusers are abusing, misusing the martyr complex to shift blame and guilt onto the victims.

I said it. And it is known as DARVO, D-A-R-V-O. Deny, attack, reverse victim and offender.

So you deny, you attack, then you reverse the rules. It's a manipulation strategy of psychological abuses.

They deny that there has been any abuse, then they attack the victim when the victim tries to hold them accountable, or at least to obtain some closure.

And then they claim that they, the abusers, were actually the victims and reversing the reality of victim and offender.

It's a form of gaslighting. It's not only blaming the victim. It's also blaming the victim.

And sometimes, DARVO leads to self-delusion, and these abusers really believe themselves to have been victimized. And they act as victims, too.

And many, and some of the people online who present themselves as victims, they are actually the abusers, but they had convinced themselves. They are in a delusional disorder. They had convinced themselves that they were the victims.

And so this is based on psychologist Jennifer Frein, F-R-E-Y-D. And she was the first to explain DARVO as a part of gaslighting.

And she wrote, And this calls for a clarification of what it is to be a victim. How do we define a victim?

So, of course, intuitively, the first thing we do is we go to criminology and criminal law.

And there, the victim of a crime is an identifiable person who has been harmed individually and directly by a perpetrator, not by society at large, not by an institution, but by a perpetrator.

This is the classic definition of victim.

Now, starting in the 60s and later, we had expanded this definition. And now someone who has been harmed by an institution, by society, by a group or collective, and so on, they are also victims.

But it started with one-on-one relationships. And victimology is the study of victimization, including, of course, psychological effects on victims and relationships between victims and offenders.

And these relationships are very, very complex. They're not simple morality plays. Someone is all good and someone is all bad.

When you go online and you see the victim movements, including, above all, the empath movement, casting themselves as all good and the offender or the abuser is all bad, that is splitting. That is an infantile defense mechanism, which is very typical of narcissists, actually.

So no one is all good or bad and no relationship is unidirectional. There's always feedback. There are always complexities which accumulate over time.

There are various theories of how victims are created. There's the environmental theory. There is even something called victim facilitation.

Victim facilitation says that some people are prone to become victims.

I'm referring you to the writings by Marvin Wolfgang. Marvin Wolfgang, yeah, the right name.

He suggested that victim facilitation was a subspecies of victim proneness. And it's not blaming the victim. It's rather the interactions of the victim that make them vulnerable to being victimized.

It seems that their behavioral modalities, their behavioral modes, choices they typically make or are prone to make, render them more victimizable than most people.

And Wolfgang and others call for the study of external elements that make the victim more accessible or vulnerable to an attack.

There's an article by Schneider, and he uses victim facilitation as a model to describe the misinterpretation by offenders.

Offenders misinterpret victim behavior. Sometimes part of the victimization is because of miscommunication. And the miscommunication is, of course, heavily influenced by the abusers' psychological makeup and mental health problems.

No question about it. But it's still a question of miscommunication. There's no bad intention or malice involved in a minority of cases.

The majority of cases, the abuses are actually malicious and or goal-oriented.

So you see that the field is very, very rich, and there are various angles.

For example, there has been a very controversial concept called the penal couple.

The penal couple is the relationship between perpetrator and victim. Both of them are involved in the event.

The penal couple, as a phrase, was invented in 1963, and many sociologists are using it right now.

It essentially says that when the crime takes place, it has two partners.

One is the offender, and the second is the victim, who is providing an opportunity to the criminal in committing the crime.

So the victim is a kind of participant in the penal couple. He bears what they call functional responsibility for the crime.

And of course, it could be construed as blaming the victim.

I personally don't agree with the penal couple approach at all. I think it's a very dangerous, slippery slope, which could lead us to justifying abuse.

Abuse is always reprehensible, vile, and should be punished extremely severely, extricated and eliminated. End of story. That's my position.

But I just want to show you that there are many, many ways of looking at interactions that, on the face of it, appear to be very simple.

So here's a reading assignment, and we move on to the topic itself.

Manfred de Vries and Katz, they wrote an article, Are you a victim of the victim syndrome? It was published in Mindful Leadership Coaching in London by Insead Pargrave Macmillan. Sikes, in 1992, wrote an article, A Nation of Victims, the Decade of American Character. It was published by St. Martin's Press in New York. Coico, CIAC, in 2016, published Victim Mentality and Violence: Anatomy of a Relationship. And it's in the book Rethinking Security in the 21st Century, a reader published again by Pargrave Macmillan. Scott Barry Kaufman, published at the Unraddling of the Mindset of Victimhood in Scientific American, Willem de Linde, wrote Narrating Injustice Survival: Self-Medication by Victims of Crime, published by Springer.

In previous lectures, I have mentioned a very new study just published, I think in March 2020. And the title, it was published in the academic journal, Personality and Individual Difference.

The study was titled, The Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood: The Personality Construct and its Consequences. It was co-authored by a group of AWLs, Israelis, Rahav Gabbai, Boaz Amiri, Tami, Ube Lipschitz and Avi and Adler.

And they suggested a new personality construct. And they said that this personality construct, which is stable across the lifespan, starts in childhood, engendered by childhood experiences, childhood attachments, childhood bonding, childhood relationships, object relationships, but persists throughout life.

So this new personality construct describes people who persistently see themselves as victims within interpersonal conflicts.

These people tend to ruminate over slights, insults, abuse, and persistently paint themselves as victims.

The authors say that this feeling of being constantly a victim is a novel personality construct. It influences how people make sense of the world around them.

They call it the Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood or TIV.

And they define TIV as an ongoing feeling that the self is a victim, which is an ongoing feeling that the self is a victim, and this feeling is generalized across many kinds of relationships.

They say there are four dimensions to Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood.

Moral elitism, a lack of empathy, a lack of empathy, the need for recognition, all these three narcissistic traits and rumination.

So someone with Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood, someone who would consider himself a victim in a variety of settings and relationships, this person is in all probability highly, highly narcissistic and also ruminative as elements of rumination.

They say that this feeling of being constantly a victim is a novel personality construct. It influences how people make sense ofinsecure in relationships.

They suggest that this personality trait is rooted in early relationships with caregivers, as I said.

They found that it was a series of studies, by the way, not one, I think four.

They found that people who scored higher on TIV were people who regarded themselves as victims.

They were more likely to desire revenge against the person who had wronged them in their eyes.

In study number four, this desire for revenge translated into behavior.

So these high on TIV, the people who regard themselves as perpetual, eternal victims, were more likely to still to remove money from the opponent when given the chance, despite being told that this decision would not increase their own welfare, their own winnings.

So just for spite, to spite the perceived abuser.

And participants high on TIV reported experiencing more intense negative emotions and higher entitlement to immoral behavior.

Exactly, narcissists.

And so the revenge process seems to unfold in the following way.

I'm quoting from the study.

The higher the participants TIV, the more they consider themselves to be victims.

The more they experience negative emotions and felt entitled to behave immorally.

However, only the experience of negative emotions predicted behavioral revenge.

Deeply rooted in the relationship, in the relations with primary caregivers, this tendency affects how individuals feel, think and behave in what they perceive as hurtful situations throughout their lives.

Before we go into Karpman's drama triangle, victim mentality, and all the recent discoveries that were made over the past two or three decades about victims and victimhood, many of these discoveries you're not going to like.

Disclaimer, if you consider yourself to be a victim, let alone an empath, you're not going to like this because all your grandiose narcissistic and title defenses are going to be provoked and triggered.

But this is a state of the art.

That's what we know today. That's what we teach in universities.

This is the psychology. Take it or leave it.

Most of you leave it, as I see, because when I go online and I read your posts and so on, they have nothing to do with either reality or psychology.

So before we go there, before we go there and I'm accused of victim shaming and victim blaming, I would like to talk about what is victim blaming.

Victim blaming is when the victim of abuse, a crime, any wrongful act, is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them, that happened to them.

Now, you notice that the definition is neutral.

They don't say if when the victim is wrongly accused of being partly responsible.

They say whenever the victim is held entirely or partially at fault, that's victim blaming, whether this is correct, whether this is incorrect.

Sometimes the victim did contribute to his or her victimization. Sometimes very often, actually, he or she didn't.

But whenever there is a hint that the victim is responsible, somehow it's called victim somehow or to some extent, it's called victim blaming.

So there is a prejudice against victims.

We don't want to believe that people are evil. We don't want to believe that there are monsters out there, abusers, narcissists, psychopaths, people with no empathy, no emotions. We don't want to believe it's too threatening. It's too threatening.

So we are trying to find mitigating circumstances in the abuse and the crime.

You provoked him. You made it happen. You misbehaved. You must have done something. People are good. People don't react with abuse. People don't commit crimes unless they are somehow provoked or couldn't help it.

This is malignant optimism.

So there's a prejudice, very strong prejudice, against victims.

And there is always the perception, the assumption, that victims are somehow responsible for the actions of offenders.

And this is bad. This is wrong. This is reprehensible. This should be rooted out.

Victims are never to blame, never to blame for what had happened to them as long as they are really victims.

They are, however, sometimes a contributing factor. Sometimes they are responsible partly to what had happened to them.

We come to it when we discuss the ideal victim.

So there's a difference between blaming the victim, shaming the victim, holding the victim guilty, and realizing that victim behavior contributes to abuse and crime.

The second statement is accurate 100%.

And so when we look at studies of domestic violence or more poignantly sex crimes, there's always a tendency to blame the victims of rape, the victims of domestic violence, the victim of domestic abuse.

And this is partly gender, a form of gender bias, because most of the victims of these crimes are women. And partly because these crimes are so heinous and they take place in familiar settings. They take place in families. They take place in hotel rooms. They take place in departments.

And we are terrified to think that evil can invade these spaces because they are our own spaces. They are our comfort zones.

We don't want to think that horrible things can happen in families or in someone's apartment. It's too much to contemplate. You can be mugged in a dark alley. That's okay. But to be raped in your best friend's apartment by your best friend, that's inconceivable.

So we blame the victim.

Psychologist William Ryan coined the phrase blaming the victim in a book titled Blaming the Victim in 1971.

And, you know, sentences like she asked for it when it comes to rape or sexual assault.

This is an example of blaming the victim.

However, you should never blame the victim. You should never shame the victim. The victim is never guilty for being a victim.

But victim behavior can be a contributing factor to the emergence of abuse and crime.

So, for example, if you leave your car keys in your car all the time and your car keeps getting stolen, you're a victim. You're a victim of a crime.

But would you say that you are not a contributing factor to the crime? Of course you are. You'll be living the car keys in the car is unwise. If you dress provocatively as a woman and go to a bar, a singles bar, a dive, and you drink yourself senseless, and then you pick up a stranger, go with him to a hotel and undress, and then you get raped. You're a victim of rape. Rape is a crime. The guy should spend the rest of his life in prison.

I agree fully.

But would you really deny that you had a hand in what had happened to you? Of course you did. You were a contributing factor.

The opposite side of abuse, the completion of crime, the yin of the yang, is lack of wisdom, unwise behavior, stupid behavior.

So many victims behave in ways and make choices that facilitate the crime, bring on the abuse.

Now that does not detract an inch from the culpability of the abuser and the criminal. They should be punished as severely as the law allows.

But it would be counterproductive for the victim to ignore her own misbehavior, her own contributions, her own bad choices, her own wrong decisions in the process.

Because, growing up, personal development and growth depend crucially on learning. And there's no learning by denying responsibility. There's no learning by not owning up to your wrong choices, bad decisions, stupidity, misbehavior. You need to face your contribution to what had happened to you.

And if you deny that you have had any contribution, that is number one counterfactual against the facts. It's not true. Simply it's a lie.

And number two, it's bad for you. Simply bad for you.

And so in the 1980s, there was this concept of ideal victims. And at the time they gave two examples.

An old woman who is attacked on her way home from visiting her family. That's an ideal victim. She couldn't have predicted it. She couldn't have done anything to prevent it. She doesn't know her attacker. That's an ideal victim.

And a man who is attacked at a bar by someone he knows. That's not an ideal victim. He went to a bar, he then associated with someone and you could expect such things to happen.

So an ideal victim goes hand in hand also with an ideal perpetrator. The ideal perpetrator doesn't know the victim and is a completely non-sympathetic figure. A monster, subhuman, individual, lacking in morals. Kind of an abstract concept because there's no such perpetrator or abuser.

So we have this ideal victim and ideal perpetrator and we measure everything in comparison to ideal victim and ideal perpetrator.

And here's the problem. Intimate partner abuse, intimate partner violence are never ideal.

Because to start with, the two people know each other. Number two, they have options which they decline to adopt. Number three, they make choices. Number four, they make decisions. Number five, they stay. Number six, the communication often provokes the abuse. Number seven, they are fully aware, they are full information. This is not an ideal victim.

Arguably, it's not a victim. But the abuse is there. And abuse is always condemnable and reprehensible. It's just that the victim role is badly defined.

The problem when we treat victims and offenders simplistically is that we don't get it right. We get the dynamics wrong. So we can't stop it from happening and we can't help either the abuser who has his own mental health problems and the victim.

Roy Baumeister, one of the most preeminent psychologists of the day and an expert on narcissism, is a social psychologist and a personality psychologist. He said that blaming the victim is not necessarily always fallacious. He was very brave to have said it. It was a very courageous act on his part.

He argued that showing the victim's possible role in an altercation or abuse may be contrary to typical explanations of violence and cruelty which incorporate the trope of the innocent victim.

He said no victim is innocent. According to Baumeister, in the classic telling of the myth of pure evil, the innocent, well-meaning victims are going about their business when they are suddenly assaulted by wicked, malicious evil doers.

Baumeister describes the situation as a possible distortion by both the perpetrator and the victim.

The perpetrator minimizes the offense while the victim maximizes the offense.

And so the accounts of the incident are not objective. The account of abuse are not objective. The victim tries to pretend that she could not have done anything differently, that she was just walking on her way, getting about her business, and suddenly, unbeknownst to her, with no forewarning or disclaimer or advance notice, she was suddenly attacked, suddenly abused, which is absolute, unmitigated nonsense.

And the perpetrator presented as nothing serious. He didn't mean to abuse. She misperceived the abuse.

He is the victim. He was just reacting, reactive abuse.

So both of them, one is minimizing, one is maximizing, and both of them deny the true nature of a typical abusive interaction.

And in a typical abusive interaction, the victim makes choices and decisions which are an integral part of the abuse process.

Baumeister refers to the common behavior of the aggressor seeing themselves as more of the victim than the abused, justifying a horrific act by way of moral complexity. And this usually stems from excessive sensitivity to insults, which he finds as a consistent pattern in abusive husbands, for example.

The abuse the perpetrator administers is excessive compared to the acts they claim to have provoked them, that is Baumeister.

What about victim mentality?

Victim mentality is actually a personality trait. It's when people tend to recognize or consider themselves as victims all the time, victims of negative actions of others, negative intentions of others. So they are self-victimizing.

These people are self-victimized. They walk around, they are hyper-vigilant, and they scan the world. Is this guy about to victimize me? Is this person about to insult me? Is this woman going to steal my money?

They are looking to be victimized. They are looking to reinterpret and reframe other people's actions and speech acts as a form of victimization. And they behave as if this were the case, even when they are presented with evidence to the contrary, or with evidence that people acted because of circumstances, or with evidence that people had acted with no collection to them, they still regard themselves as victim.

So there is a clear cognitive bias here. A thought process which is skewed and problematic and wrong, divorces the victim from reality testing.

And there is a problem of attribution, which we will come to in a bit later.

Now everyone, every human being alive, had been subjected to abuse, had been insulted, had been mistreated, had lost things.

I mean, everyone had been victimized. Every single human being who had ever lived had experienced being victimized.

So even people with victim mentality probably had been victimized. They probably had been exposed to wrongdoing by others. They probably had suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.

But the difference between regular people and people with victim mentality is that victimhood is the organizing and explanatory principle. It's pervasive and universal.

So they interpret the world, they imbue their lives and the world and reality and other people with meaning, with direction, with purpose, by interpreting everything in terms of victimhood.

Victimhood is the way they understand the world, and victimhood is the way they communicate to others.

Victimhood is, in other words, an identity dimension. It's what defines them.

They constantly or frequently perceive themselves as victims, and this is victim mentality. It's tendency to blame your misfortunes, defeats, failures on someone else's misdeeds, and this is victimism. It's known as victimism or, in Freud's terms, alloplastic defenses.

Alloplastic defenses are very common. For example, in narcissism, the narcissist is always a victim. He has an external locus of control. People do things to him because they're envious. He's been discriminated against, he's been demoted, he's been insulted, he's been humiliated, everything.

I mean, people are constantly victimizing the narcissist. He has alloplastic defenses. If things go wrong, if he had failed, if he did something wrong, I mean, it's not his fault. He was forced to do this, or he was led to do this, or he was misled to do this. This is victim mentality.

In the most general sense, a victim is anyone who experiences injury, loss, misfortune as a result of event or some series of events.

These events can be impersonal. You can be a victim of natural disaster, but when you're a victim of another individual, that's when the classic sense of victimhood kicks in.

But even if you had been victimized by a specific abuser and so on, if you think of yourself as a victim, that's not healthy. That is wrong. That is sick. It retards your growth. It's unhealthy for you. It will make you very ill mentally.

And I'm furious at all the coaches, self-styled coaches and self-styled experts online who egg you on, encourage you, foster your victimhood because it makes them money. The longer you're in a state of victimhood, the more you pay for seminars and DVDs and retreats and lectures and books and I don't know what else, and counseling and so on.

They want you to remain victims for as long as possible. They don't care about your mental health. They care about your wallets. They care to empty your wallets, to be more precise. And you're blind because you want to feel like victims.

Because when you're a victim, you abrogate personal responsibility. It's not your fault. You did nothing wrong. You're perfect. You're angelic. You're blameless. You're blemishless. It's an appeal to grandiosity and removes all feelings of blame and shame and guilt from you.

You don't feel ashamed of your really seriously bad choices and catastrophic, idiotic decisions. You no longer feel ashamed of these because you are a victim.

And you don't feel guilty for having contributed to the situation, to your own abuse, because it wasn't your fault. It just happened to you.

You're passive. You're in a passive role. You're a magnet. Magnets can't help it. They attract iron.

You're a magnet. You're passive. You're just there. You don't do anything.

This passive role is pacifying. You're pacified by positivity.

And there are numerous peddlers, con artists, with and without academic titles, who are delighted to tell you what you want to hear and take your money in the process.

Wake up.

So, victim mentality is an illness. It's a problem.

Individuals identify as victims if they believe that they were harmed. They were not the cause of the occurrence of the Harmful Act. They didn't make it happen. They were under no obligation to prevent the harm. The harm constituted an injustice or violated their rights if it was inflicted by a person, or possessed qualities, making them persons to whom that harm was attracted.

So, like, you know, an empathic that attracts narcissists. So, it apparentizes you. You're empathic. You're compassionate. You're loving. You're caring. You're an amazing person. You're good. You're a wonderful person.

That's why the narcissist honed in on you. Not because you're mentally ill. Not because you're broken. Not because you're damaged. Not because you're vulnerable. Not because you have serious mental health issues that you need to take care of. Not because you make bad choices. Not for the first time. Sometimes five or six times. Not because your decision making sucks. Not because you can't think rationally. Not because you are functionally illiterate sometimes. Not because you don't bother to do your homework. Because you're lazy. None of these things.

Because you're a victim. Poor victim. You deserve sympathy. The desire for empathy is crucial because the mere experience of a harmful event is in itself insufficient for you to feel like a victim.

We have amazing studies that show that people experience very bad situations, very bad events, mistreated by people, mistreated, abused by people, insulted, humiliated, stolen from, beaten by people, and they don't feel like victims. They start to feel like victims when they are told that they are victims.

When they come across empathic people, good people, who tell them that they are victims. When society tells them that they are victims.

This was a discovery by Winnicott when he studied incest. He said that in a suppressed study that was later hush-hush, he said that the majority of the damage inflicted on children in incest is because society terrifies them, frightens them into believing that something horrible has happened.

So, victimhood crucially depends on social messaging, on cues that you collect from friends and family and the environment.

And your role is what we call emergent role. Your role as a victim emerges from all the information and feedback and input that you're getting.

People are telling you, what are you not? Don't you realize that you're a victim? Don't you understand that he's abusing you?

And suddenly you say, wow, now it all makes sense. Yes, I'm a victim. He's abusing me. Hooray. From now on, that's my guiding principle.

I have discovered the truth. I found the Holy Grail and that's it. So, victimhood is crucially dependent not only on objective events, and mind you, there are objective events of crime and abuse. Don't misunderstand me. But victim mentality, victim stance, pathological victimhood, TIV, all these aberrations of victimhood, they depend on feedback from the environment in order to have the sense of a victim.

You need to perceive the harm as undeserved, unjust, immoral, antisocial and something you could have not prevented and you contributed nothing to.

In other words, you need to cast yourself as an ideal victim. And this is what society, online coaches and self-styled experts, friends, family, this is what society is helping you to do.

It's helping you to idealize yourself and this time idealize yourself as a victim, blameless, guiltless victim. Something has happened to you. You just happen to be there. You had nothing to do with it.

And the need to obtain empathy and understanding is self-reinforcing, self-perpetuating. The more you get this contextualization, the more you get this reframing of what had happened to you, the more you need these reinforcements, these positive reinforcements, the more you need people to tell you that you're a victim.

In short, the more invested you are, the more affected you are, the more emotionally invested you are in being a victim, the more you need people to continue to tell you that you had been a victim because you're beginning to have doubts.

As time passes, you gain perspective. You suddenly remember things. And many of these things are egodystonic, egodystonic. In other words, many of these things challenge your view of yourself as a victim.

And you need people to tell you, no, no, no, forget that. Think, focus, focus, you're a victim.

Individuals with victim mentality believe that their lives are a series of challenges directly aimed at them. This is called referential ideation.

They believe that most aspects of life are negative and beyond their control, external locus of control and negativism. They believe that because of the challenges in their lives, they deserve sympathy and empathy and support and health, entitlement. And they believe that they have little power to change things. Little actions should be taken to improve their problems.

So they are like fatalists, eternal pessimists.

And victim mentality is most common when the abuse is really extreme in the long term.

In other words, it's an artifact, it's an element or dimension of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, complex trauma.

And you have victim mentality among mental health disorders that imitate complex trauma or are the outcome of complex trauma.

For example, narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Both narcissists and borderlines have victim mentality, their eternal victims.

And many of the victims online are nothing but borderlines and narcissists. They're not innocent victims who had nothing to do with what had happened to them. They have contributed massively to their situation, either by choice and decision or by behavior and speech acts.

So it's a method, victim mentality is a method of avoiding responsibility, avoiding criticism and securing attention. Compassion being the center of the focus of attention is good. And evading feelings of genuine anger, especially self anger. Being angry at yourself for what had happened to you is extremely uncomfortable. We want to avoid it at all costs. We want to restore ego-syntony.

And victim mentality does this.

When you have a crisis, when you have a trauma, you need all your strength to cope with it. And you can't self-doubt and you can't question yourself and you can't, you know, you feel that it's like propaganda during wartime. You can't see the good sides of the enemy. You need to demonize the enemy and you need to angelize yourself.

And so this is a splitting based morality play of good versus evil. Satan versus the angels. God versus the devil. And the devil is, of course, your abuser, your God or the angels or whatever.

Victim mentality manifests in a range of different behaviors, ways of thinking and talking.

Identifying other people is the cause for an undesired situation, denying personal responsibility for your own life, circumstances, choices, decisions, exhibiting heightened attention levels, hypervigilance when in the presence of other people, awareness of negative intentions of other people, believing that other people are generally more fortunate than you are, envy, pathological envy, and gaining relief from feeling pity for oneself or receiving sympathy from others in order to ameliorate anxiety that comes out of self-anger, self-directed aggression, in other words, depression.

So you can see already that victim mentality, when victimhood had become your identity, is really, really sick. It's a real mental health problem. And it's characterized also by negativistic, passive-aggressive attitudes like pessimism, self-pity, repressed anger.

Victim mentality resembles a lot covert narcissism. And that's why I keep saying that most empaths that I've seen online are actually covert narcissists.

People with victim mentality develop convincing and sophisticated explanations in support of their ideas. And they use these explanations to explain to themselves and to others what has happened to them.

Because, you know, they can be intelligent and they can come up with this extremely convincing gaslighting, which other people fall into, and they fall into a trap.

The person with victim mentality, empath, is a mirror image of the narcissist. They gaslight as well.

So people with victim mentality are not necessarily these broken, wounded, tormented souls and so on. Sometimes they are pretty realistic.

We found in studies that they have a tendency to realistically perceive a situation.

But they lack awareness or curiosity about the root of actual powerlessness in situations.

So it's not that they falsify the facts and the data, but they recast it in ways that prevent inquiry.

So they tell you, I was 100% victim. He was 100% abuser. What else do you need to know? No need to know anything.

Studies have shown that people with victim mentality are introspective. They like to display entitlement. They're highly selfish. They're defensive, so in conversation. Or when you chat with them online or forums and they read negative intentions into the most neutral, innocuous, innocent exchanges. And they usually accuse, and they're very obstructive, and they're not team players. They refuse to collaborate, to solve problems, and to recognize inherent conflicts or disagreements. In this sense, they're very much like narcissists. They tend to categorize. They divide people to good and bad, no gray zone between them. It's a splitting mechanism.

They are unadventurous. They are unwilling to take even small and calculated risks. They exaggerate the importance or likelihood of possible negative outcomes. And they exhibit something we will deal with in the next lecture, which is learned helplessness. They underestimate their ability or their influence in any given situation. They feel powerless.

So consequently, they are self-effacing, self-abasing. They put themselves down even further than other people are doing.

So if someone would tell them you are this, you don't know the half of it. I'm even much worse.

When you go to incel communities, INCL communities, you see covert narcissism masquerading as victimhood. When you go to empath communities, you see covert narcissism masquerading as victimhood.

Victim mentality has special linguistic markers.

So if you see sentences starting with the word, I can't. I must. I had no choice. I didn't know. I'm unable to do something. I don't have choices. I didn't know. I couldn't recognize it was a good actor. He pulled the wool over my eyes and victim mentality.

Victim mentality is strongly identified with many, many narcissistic traits, dimensions and behaviors.

For example, there's a need for recognition. This is all based on studies. Everything I'm telling you is based on studies.

So, for example, we discovered that people with victim mentality, they have a need for recognition. They desire, they want other people to recognize their victimhood. They want other people to affirm their victimhood. Not only just their victimhood, but how unprecedented what had happened to them was like they are the supernova victims. They're not just victims. What happened to them was amazing and unique and, you know, grandiosity.

And so this recognition reaffirms positive basic assumptions that such people hold about themselves, about others, about the world in general.

And it implies that the offenders, their offenders, were equally special or unique, uniquely evil, uniquely wicked, uniquely manipulative, uniquely scheming, uniquely everything, devilish. They demonize their abusers.

But at the same time, it's like if everyone says you're drunk, go to sleep. If everyone says that the abuser was an abuser, he must have been an abuser. It's like they are, they doubt themselves. They're not quite sure who was the victim and who was the abuser.

And very often you see comments like, I'm beginning to think that I actually was the narcissist. Or I'm beginning to think that maybe I misbehaved in this relationship. You know, there is a constant nagging core of self-doubt.

And they need the voice of the multitudes to confirm to them that they are not the narcissists, they are not the abusers, they are the victims.

It's like the victimhood by crowdsourcing, you know. It's like Wikipedia or victimhood. A million people tell you you're a victim, okay, then you're a victim.

But if no one tells you you're a victim, maybe you are the abuser actually, not the victim.

At a collective level, this encourages people to have positive emotions with regard regarding traumatic events.

And so they can then restore egosyntony. They can eliminate shame, blame, guilt, realization how unwise they acted.

And this leads to moral elitism. People with victim mentality perceive themselves as morally superior.

Everyone else is immoral or amoral at best. The offender, the abuser is definitely immoral. Anti-social, psychopath, monster, beast, inhuman, devilish, demonic, satanic. The victim is angelic, is morally, moral, is superior in his sanctimonious self-righteous morality.

And this is of course covert narcissism. It's a black and white view of morality and the actions of individuals. It's extreme form of sick splitting.

They deny their own aggressiveness and they regard themselves actually as weak lambs to the slaughter.

You know, they're the weak and they're persecuted and prosecuted and you know, offended against by the morally impure.

And the other person is threatening, persecuting, immoral.

And so the more you blacken, the more you denigrate, the other side, the abuser, the more by comparison and contrast and contradiction you are elevated.

They elevate by devaluing. Sounds familiar? Yes. Classic narcissistic technique.

They feel superior because they render the abuser inferior. The more he is inferior in whatever way, the more superior they are in the same way.

Moral elitism emphasizes the harm, the harm inflicted on a saint. It's a state of sainthood.

The empath is a saint. That's why these astrophysical references, super empath, supernova empath, it's utterly insane. These people are insane. Not only narcissists, but they are divorced from reality to the point that they require medication.

Really, I think the empath community is a group of exceedingly sick people. And so they see their own aggression, even violence sometimes, as justified and moral, but everyone else's aggression and so on is unjustified and morally wrong. And they totally lack empathy.

On this, we have numerous studies.

Victims, pronouns, professional, perpetual, identity, politics, victims, they lack empathy.

Recent studies in British Columbia even spotted psychopathy among these people. They're sometimes psychopaths. They lack empathy because they're so focused on their own suffering, because they're so inward directed, because they are so conficted, emotionally invested in their tribulations and vicissitudes. They're unwilling to consider anyone else's needs, interests, anyone else's suffering even. They compete with suffering. Suffering is a badge of honor. And they compete. My suffering is greater than your suffering. Who are you? What are you? You've gone through nothing. They invalidate each other. They invalidate each other by competing. They ignore the suffering of others, act selfishly, or denigrate and invalidate the suffering of others.

And so being preoccupied with victimhoods, victimhood narrows, constricts your ability to see other people's perspectives, and of course your ability to exercise empathy. Everything is impaired, even cognitive empathy. They have less empathy than narcissists and psychopaths. They don't even have cold empathy. And they are less likely to accept responsibility when they misbehave, when they commit harm, when they abuse.

It's egoism writ large, egotism writ large.

And finally, there's the issue of rumination.

These kind of victims tend to focus attention on their distress, on the causes of their distress, the abuse and the consequences.

So they are focused, they're caught in a time warp. They're caught in the past. They keep analyzing the past, nitpicking, you know, who did what to whom and where and why and how and when, what proceeded, what came after. I mean, they're totally obsessed with what had happened to them. And they put very little emphasis on solutions.

At a certain point, they get confused and they think that being a victim is the solution.

If they just remain victims, that's the solution. It's total protection, especially protection from self-recrimination.

This causes aggression. They become aggressive. If they are criticized, if you disagree with them, if you try to point an alternative point of view or their own responsibility and contribution to what had happened to them, they become violent. They begin to insult you. They begin to threaten you. They never forgive. They hold grudges forever. They are vengeful. They are seething with toxic, the toxic brew of victim.

And these dynamics are really bad for them. Forget now, other people. It's bad for them because they are trapped. They are trapped in a self-image of victimization.

The psychological profile that we teach in universities and textbooks of victimization includes a pervasive sense of helplessness, passivity, loss of control, pessimism, negative thinking, strong feelings, strong repressed feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, which lead to depression because they are repressed.

It's self-directed aggression. And this way of thinking leads to hopelessness and despair.

And so you can spend two years with an online expert or online coach who would keep telling you what a great person you are, what an amazing empath, and how you were a total ideal victim. You had nothing to do with what had happened to you. And you feel good for these two years.

And then you crash. Then you crash badly. And you act out. And you act out by finding another abuser because only by finding another abuser can you sustain the feeling that you're a victim. And you had grown addicted to this feeling because it made you feel good for two years.

You want to be abused again in order to again feel like a victim because it's a great feeling. You have become a junkie, a junkie of victimhood.

And it's horrible what these people are doing to you online. Absolutely horrible. It also builds distrust because if you're a victim, if you're so helpless, if you're so weak, if you're so broken, if you're so damaged, can you trust yourself to be in a new relationship with someone else? Or would you forever be suspicious, paranoid, hypervigilant?

These are the legacies of all these so-called experts.

In 2005, there was a study by Charles Snyder, psychologist.

Victim mentality people, people with victim mentality, they never forgive themselves for what had happened actually. They pass on the buck to the abuser. The abuser did it to me and so on.

But deep inside, they feel really, really bad because they were taken advantage of. They were so frail, so vulnerable, so broken that someone could just step in and do anything they wanted.

And so this lack of forgiveness in an eternal victim state leads ultimately to PTSD or extreme hostility either.

In other words, a psychopathic solution.

These people gradually become psychopathic, like this is the only way to cope with this world, or they develop even more extreme post-traumatic conditions.

And this is a Snyder study. Group support is helpful if the group does not foster victim.

When you go to AA, for example, Alcoholics Anonymous, they don't say you're a victim. They tell you you're an abuser. And alcoholics are victims of alcohol in their own life circumstances. They could easily be described as victims, you know?

And yet AA doesn't tell them you're victims.

So there is group support, but as long as the group support is not focused on venting, on perpetuating a victim with stunts and a victim with status, as long as the group emphasizes positive feelings, as long as the group counters learned helplessness, helps to practice assertiveness, then it's helpful to some extent, to some extent, but never when the main theme, the core, the pivot, is victimhood.

So victim mentality is a huge problem, especially online, because trauma, reacting to trauma with victimhood, with victim mentality undermines your assumptions about the world as a just and reasonable place.

We have quite a few scientific studies that show that validation of trauma is important, but then you must transition immediately to a non-victim stance.

It's normal for victims to want the abuser to take responsibility to provide closure, to be punished even.

And so validation of trauma is crucial, and restoring justice is crucial.

Victimization is bad.

Putting yourself in the position of a victim and then regarding it as a solution to all your trouble is bad.

Delitzsch and Malmo identify an anti-victimism mentality in society. Society will not help you to present yourself as a victim, but society does it in a way that invalidates your experiences, which is bad.

So you're like between a rock and a hard place.

You know, on the one hand, society refuses to acknowledge what had happened to you as a victim, and on the other hand, unstrapless con artists try to force you and perpetuate your victimhood's stance because it pays, it's profitable.

It's a college industry, a cottage industry.

So it's not good to say, I have not been victimized. It's not good to try to show fortitude, refuse to show pain, not communicate emotions, be a macho. Pain is not, displaying pain is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength.

Being able to externalize and discuss your vulnerability shows you're strong and resilient, but don't make your vulnerabilities and pain the core of your identity.

Create an environment where you can share without being judged, but not share in order to be elevated, to cater to your grandiosity.

So we have this study, we have this branch of psychology called victimology, and we study the perceptions of victims from sociological and psychological perspective.

And there's a complicated relationship with the very label of victim.

Some people say I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor, you know. And they are right to a big extent because if you accept the label of victim, it's a kind of Cain's mark, it's a kind of stigma.

But on the other one hand, but on the other hand, you know, if you want to avoid blame, victim blaming, you have to accept it.

So here's this dilemma in daily life.

You want to reject this label of victim, you want to avoid stigmatization. You want to give yourself a sense of agency, you want to get rid of learned helplessness, but you also want justice, you also want sympathy, and you also want to feel blameless, and you also want to aggrandize yourself sometimes.

And so these are conflicting, and there is like this dichotomy between being a victim and being a survivor.

You know, you have to choose. Are you going to be a victim for life or are you going to be a survivor for life?

Because if you're a survivor, you give up, you renounce your rights as a victim. And if you're a victim, definitely you're not a survivor.

So it seems like victims are zombies in limbo. They haven't survived.

If you're a victim, you're not a survivor. You haven't survived. You're not fully alive.

Victimhood is a suspension of life, or as Cleckley called it, a rejection of life, or as Bromberg called it, an unlived life.

But Cleckley and Bromberg were referring to psychopaths and narcissists.

Psychopaths and narcissists are victims. They had been abused as children. They're also victims.

But they chose to remain victims for the rest of their lives.

And this is what you should definitely try to avoid. At all costs, you should try to acknowledge your agency. You should try to cultivate your self-efficacy and assertiveness. You should accept that other people's behavior causes harm and it's an integral part of life.

And you should try to avoid these people and survive, and if necessary, seek to punish.

But you should never get stuck in the role of a victim because your company is narcissists and psychopaths. And you don't want that. Trust me.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

3 Types Of Victim Vigilante, Identity, Traditional

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of victimhood and its different forms. He explains traditional victimhood, identity victimhood, and vigilante victimhood, and how they are used to gain benefits and attention. He also addresses the infiltration of victimhood movements by narcissists and psychopaths, and the negative impact of victimhood identity politics. Vaknin emphasizes the coercive and abusive nature of victimhood movements and their transformation from genuine grievances to abusive and manipulative movements.

Autists Lack Empathy, Empaths Deceive, Manipulate

Sam Vaknin discusses two new studies that support his long-held beliefs. The first study shows that children with autism spectrum disorder lack empathy and experience difficulties with self-conscious emotions, such as guilt and shame. The second study suggests that individuals who label themselves as "empaths" are likely covert narcissists and psychopaths who engage in deceptive virtue signaling. Vaknin's interpretations of these studies may be controversial, but he stands by his claims.

Narcissist: Can't Afford Empathy (Dialog with Edwin Rutsch)

Sam Vaknin and Edwin Rutch discuss the concept of using cold empathy to induce social conformity in narcissists and psychopaths. Sam explains that empathy should be made a precondition for complying with the expectations and needs of narcissists and psychopaths, and that it could be used to convince them to play by certain rules. They also discuss the therapeutic process of Focusing and the difference between sensations and emotions. Sam discusses his need for narcissistic supply and how he objectifies people to extract it. The guest discusses their family's traumatic experiences and their efforts to use empathic listening to heal dysfunction and miscommunication.

Arrested Empathy: Instinctual, Emotional Cognitive, and Cold Empathy

Sam Vaknin discusses the model of empathy, suggesting it is three-partite and develops in children in three phases. He explains that narcissists and psychopaths lack empathy and may possess "cold empathy," which is devoid of compassion and emotional connection. Vaknin also explores the decline of empathy in society and its impact on social behavior and mental health. He argues that empathy is more important socially than psychologically and that its absence predisposes people to exploit and abuse others.

Change Your Inner Dialog, Narrative Plot

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the inner dialogue and its impact on our psyche. He explains that the voices in our heads are influenced by societal expectations and can lead to emotional dysregulation. Vaknin outlines the characteristics of a healthy inner dialogue and emphasizes the importance of understanding one's own happiness preconditions. He also warns against the dangers of becoming a narcissist or a psychopath in the process of rejecting societal influences.

Furious Debate: Edwin Rutsch and Sam Vaknin on Empathy

Sam Vaknin, a diagnosed psychopathic narcissist and expert on narcissism, discusses empathy with Edwin Rutch from the Centre for Building a Culture of Empathy. Vaknin explains the two components of empathy, cold empathy and emotional arousal, and argues that while emotional arousal may be innate, the intersubjective component is learned. He also discusses the challenges of understanding and sharing emotions with others, and the differences between narcissism and psychopathy. Vaknin believes that individuals with narcissism and psychopathy are unlikely to develop empathy and that society's values may be promoting these traits.

ADHD, Autism, Narcissism: No Empathy in Dead Mother Triad

Sam Vaknin discusses the connection between ADHD, autism, and narcissism, speculating that a dysfunctional upbringing can lead to attention deficit and a lack of empathy. He emphasizes the importance of empathy in psychological functioning and highlights the decline of empathy in society. He also criticizes the societal focus on self-interest and manipulation.

When Suggestible Patient Pleases Therapist (Conference Presentation)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the impact of suggestibility and mimicry in therapy, particularly in patients with personality disorders. He emphasizes the need for therapists to maintain boundaries and avoid colluding with patients in forming shared fantasies. The text also delves into the concepts of transference and countertransference, and the potential for corruption and compromise in therapeutic relationships. Vaknin stresses the importance of humility and the therapist's role as a service provider rather than a figure of authority.

How Narcissist, Borderline Overperceives YOU (and Reality)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of overperception, a cognitive bias where individuals exaggerate or misperceive the intentions, emotions, and behaviors of others. He provides examples of overperception in various mental illnesses, such as narcissism, borderline personality disorder, and paranoia. Vaknin also explores the evolutionary basis and adaptive value of cognitive biases, as well as their impact on decision-making and emotional regulation. He emphasizes the role of cognitive distortions in shaping individuals' perceptions and internal states, and discusses the implications for therapeutic interventions.

Treatment for Narcissism: Cold Therapy Questions and Techniques: Seminar in Vienna, May 12-14, 2017

Professor Sam Vaknin is hosting a three-day certification seminar in Vienna from May 12th to May 14th, where he will teach cold therapy to a group of therapists. The seminar will be held at Hotel Amstel and will be limited to 20 participants to ensure personal attention. Cold therapy is a unique treatment modality that regards pathological narcissism as a form of complex post-traumatic condition and treats narcissists as children. The therapy uses 25 proprietary techniques, including erasure, the map of happiness, and other scoring, to re-traumatize the narcissistic client and recreate the hostile environment of the original trauma.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy