Victim Syndrome (‘Are You A Victim of the Victim Syndrome’) – by Insead
Via “Insead,” (this is in PDF format):
Do you know people who always behave like victims? People who blame others when bad things happen to them?
And do they blame their family, partner, people at work, or any number of things that they perceive to be victimizing them? … and if you have ever tried helping them, have you discovered that “rescuing” them from the trouble they are in can be an excruciating process?
Do you resent the way every bit of advice you offer is brushed aside or rejected, often contemptuously?
If any of these observations apply, you may be dealing with people who suffer from the victim syndrome (Fenichel, 1945; Zur, 1994).
These are people who always complain about the “bad things that happen” in their lives, due to circumstances beyond their control. Nothing feels right to them. Trouble follows them whereever they go.
This is not to suggest that they are making it up. On the contrary, there is always truth in their stories.
Bad things happen to all of us; that’s life. It’s not a rose garden. But there are many different ways of dealing with the difficulties that come our way.
Most of us, when faced with life’s obstacles, do something about them and get on with it.
But people with a victim mentality are incapable of doing so.
Their negative outlook on life transforms every setback into a major drama.
…. Worse, people with a victim mentality are very difficult to handle. They have an extremely fatalistic outlook on life.
Because they believe they have no control over the way events unfold, they have a poor sense of responsibility. Every negative outcome in their life is attributed to people or circumstances beyond their control.
Every effort made to help them, or to present a solution to their predicament, is met by a huge arsenal of reasons why it will not work, some of them quite ingenious.
Their problems are apparently unique and therefore insoluble. They appear to always be trying to prove the helper wrong.
From page 18:
Can people stuck with a victim mentality break out of this self-destructive cycle? How can they be helped to transcend their mindset? Are there ways to stop them sabotaging themselves?
From Page 19:
…. However, what helps victims best is the development of a healthier self-concept. They need to become cognizant of their victimized self-image and exchange it for something more constructive.
This kind of transformation necessitates cognitive and emotional reorientation, new ways of thinking about themselves.
They must ditch their self-projection as a martyr, because an identity based on helplessness is no longer acceptable. They need to learn to feel good about themselves. However, building a new identity and attitudes will take time.
Victims also need to learn how to stop attracting people who cause them grief. They need to recognize how their passive-aggressive, manipulative behavior evokes hostile reactions in others.
They have to stop the kind of behavior that perpetuates victimization and find new ways of interacting that include space for their self-respect. They need to learn that relational experiences do not have to be exercises in victimization.
People dealing with individuals with a victim mindset should recognize that there is a difference between rescuing and helping.
With rescuing, there is no progress, and the victim remains stuck in a dependent state.
Rescuing perpetuates their tendency to hand over control and responsibility for their condition to others, even though outsourcing their life to others creates this sense of powerlessness in the first place.
… In all situations of change, including change for the better, adopting a different outlook on life is hard.
Many people prefer to remain victims because they find it difficult to work toward healing and living a proactive life.
If victimhood has been a major life theme, [it will not be] easy to put aside. It might feel comfortable to carry on blaming external or uncontrollable factors for things that go wrong.
This is an effective way of channeling their anger about their fate in life and absolves them from personal responsibility. But this just perpetuates the mindset that nothing can be done to control their lives.
From page 20:
To tackle this, people susceptible to the victim syndrome need to practice other forms of dialogue but this requires a solid dose of awareness about their predicament.
If they are unable to think differently about themselves, they will fall deeper and deeper in a downward spiral and unworthiness.
They must give up the benefits of using victimhood as an excuse for their conscious or unconscious blame game and take responsibility for their own actions.
They need to own their life, which means being honest about how they manipulate others, put themselves in the victim role, and use self-deprecating stories about their own ineptitude to evoke sympathy.
These people need to realize that they are no longer as helpless as they were as children.
… When people have a greater sense of empowerment, they begin to accept that they can be the masters of their own destiny.
With the self-esteem and confidence that empowerment brings comes the courage to face the vicissitudes of life head-on, and search for their own “cure.”
They will be able to move beyond the victim mentality and out of their funk of sadness and self-pity. There will no longer be any need for self-sabotage of blame.
— end excerpts —
The rest of that page (which is in PDF format) can be read (Link): here