Chapter 13: Victimist Attitudes
Over the past thirty years I have observed two species of victimist behaviors, both of which can evolve into an entitlement mentality, which is the focus of the chapter to follow this one. It is not really possible to classify these as two species of victimists, as the same person can vacillate between these two forms of victimism in changing situations. It’s also important to keep in mind that victimism is not necessarily a persistent personality type, but a maladaptive response to perceived hardship, mistreatment or misfortune.
The first is an attitude of passive victimism. Those who adopt this attitude do so because a victim status absolves them of responsibility for their perceived failures or mediocrity. They have chosen to believe that they are victims, and have enshrined it, consciously or unconsciously, in their self-concept.
There are several payoffs to being a victim. Passive victimists can use their victim status to validate their begrudging acceptance of their circumstances rather than to proactively seek change. For passive victimists, the prospect of failing in their quest for change is much more frightening than to remain in their victim status. If their self-concept includes a victim status, then it is less threatening to remain a victim than to allow themselves to think in ways that challenge their self-concept as a victim. In the same way, failures in more modest undertakings also become the fault of things beyond their control, and thus their self-concept is again protected. Their victim status is a cloaked Comfort Zone for them. It shields them from the blame for their circumstances, and it absolves them of the responsibility to try to change them.
The second species of victimist behavior is manipulative victimism. Manipulative victimists exploit their victim status, real or unreal, to play on the sympathy, guilt, sense of duty, etc of the people in their lives. One payoff is simply the attention or sympathy that they receive as a victim. The other payoff is the ability to extort what they want from others by making them believe they are responsible for the unhappiness of the victim, or are at least obligated to help the victim in some way as a matter of simple decency….
Victimism guarantees mediocrity or failure, and limits you to seasons of fleeting short-term satisfaction in life. A victimist attitude assumes an external locus of control, either real or feigned, and the same is necessary to maintaining a victimist status…