Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Dangers of Victimhood Mentality
I wanted to explain a few things before I paste in excerpts from the article about victimhood by Gunderman, so nobody will misunderstand my views upfront.
I do think there are actual victims out there in life, including in the Christian church context. I am not denying that.
I recognize that sometimes painful or unfair things happen to all of us in life, and sometimes those painful things are due to other people’s cruelty, incompetence, negligence, or sins against us, and not due to any personal moral failings or choices we make.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people through no fault of those people. One can be more sinned against than sinner.
A few years ago, there was a guy on Twitter with several accounts (he seemed to be a Christian), all of which were disgustingly used to mock victims of church abuse or of sexual abuse whose churches tried to cover up the abuse.
I think he later deleted these accounts, or his accounts received so many complaints from others that Twitter deleted them all.
One of his Twitter accounts used the name “Victim Princess,” as if to suggest that any and all women who spoke out against abuse they received by their churches or by Christians was nothing but entitled, petty whining with no merit. I was appalled by his account.
This guy would do things like actually tweet rude or nasty comments at Christian women on Twitter who discussed how their church covered up their abuse by other church members.
Politically, I am a conservative, and I do not agree with the vast majority of liberal or progressive “woke,” intersectional identity politics, which is largely based on victimhood mentality.
In progressive identity politics, different identity groups end up competing for “who is the most oppressed and biggest victim in life,” which creates (not solves) all sorts of problems.
However, while I do think that the “woke” go over-board with their grievance culture mentality, that does not mean that people who complain about having been hurt in life are always lying, exaggerating, or trying to get special accommodations.
Out of Knee Jerk Dislike of Wokeness, Among Other Factors, Sadly, Too Often, Too Many Conservatives Minimize Actual Abuse
While some progressives over-play the “victim card” to exploit and manipulate others, it is still wrong for conservatives to deny, minimize, or to reject altogether that churches do usually cover up sexual abuse in their midst or by their members.
It is wrong for conservatives to fail to acknowledge the reality that most pastors and churches do in fact fail domestic abuse victims and constantly enable abusers.
I do think that most churches are insensitive and incompetent at handling abuse among their members, and that should change.
There is such a thing as a victim. People can be exploited, hurt, and abused by other people – that is not something that “woke” liberals and progressives are making up.
I’m a conservative who has been taken advantage of and bullied through my life by school mates, my ex fiance, siblings, co-workers on jobs, etc., and this through no fault of my own.
Victims do actually exist.
Conservatives can and have been abused and mistreated on an individual and group level, whether by liberal and progressive persons and policies, or by their spouses or bosses on jobs.
At one time or another, we’ve all been bullied, abused, harassed, exploited, or on the receiving end of rude or cutting comments, regardless of our identity or political beliefs.
It is therefore unrealistic and cruel for conservatives to act like any and every person who claims victim status is a sensitive snowflake or is lying about it.
Flip Side of Coin: People Who Choose to Stay in Victimhood Status (yes, it’s ultimately a choice), Refuse to Move Forward
However, I have seen people, and groups of people, who – whether they are actual victims or not – wallow in victimhood status and victimhood mentality, and this is not acceptable, either.
Some of those still participating in the “exvangelical” (ex-evangelical) tag over on Twitter in 2022, which has been going on for several years now, are one example of this.
I’ve seen so many people, under that “exvangelical” tag, as well as non-ex-evangelical people I once befriended online,
or people (including family members I’ve had, real life friends and co-workers) who may have been honestly victimized and wounded in childhood or adulthood, but they remain “stuck” in their rage, anger, and hurt – they still think of themselves as victims, and they want to be viewed as victims.
They want to be endlessly coddled and validated.
These are people who are very resistant to, or who refuse to take, the only avenue out of the pain, regret, anger, and disappointment and into joy, peace, and happiness – which includes, after a period of grieving and anger (that comes to an end and does not go on indefinitely),
- accepting, once for all, what happened to them,
realizing that remaining focused on external causes and other people (ie, their abuser or abusive church) is keeping them “stuck,”
- to make a deliberate decision at some point to move forward, whether they “feel like it” or not
(i.e., to no longer stew in anger, to ruminate, stew in past wrongs done against them, to dwell on how life is unfair, to dwell upon the idea they are a good person who didn’t deserve the abuse, etc),
- to realize in order to change their life for the better, they will have to look inwards,
which will allow them to get to the next healing point…
- take personal responsibility for their life, healing,
and realize if you want your life to change,
you will have to get active and make changes yourself
– sitting around all day doing things like watching TV or complaining to people on social media about how life, your former church, God, or your abuser, treated you so unfairly
(even if any and all those things are in fact true, ie, you WERE treated horribly and unfairly)
– won’t ultimately help you in the long run, it won’t make the necessary changes;
complaining frequently, and receiving validation that, yes, what happened to you was horrible and wrong, and yes, you were a victim who didn’t deserve abuse, will only offer temporary emotional relief but will not produce long lasting inner peace and happiness
Stewing in anger, hurt, and regret and enjoying or wanting to receive validation that one did not deserve to be abused, is all but a step in the overall journey of healing.
It is the first step… but too many victims want to stay in Step One forever and ever, rather than moving through the rest of the steps.
Yes, there should be time limits on how long you are angry, ruminating, and upset and wanting to receive validation – a lot of therapists and victims (and former victims) get upset when this view point is stated, but it’s true.
Maybe that time limit is different for each victim and should not be rushed – which is fine.
HOWEVER, I do not support any person staying mired in “victimhood land” perpetually.
Staying in step one – never getting over or past the anger and hurt, refusing to let go or from even considering to do so, being addicted to external validation like it’s a drug one craves and needs – is one huge component of what keeps people trapped in depression, anger, pain, and from enjoying the rest of their life.
If you feel perpetually wounded, hurt, or angry, as long as you keep shifting blame towards those outside you (even if yes, those others deserve that blame), as long as you continue to dwell on being angry at your abuser, at God, life circumstances, or former churches that treated you like trash, you’ll never be able to move on and enjoy life again.
You have to look inwards in order to move forward, and that is a choice one has to make, because it won’t instantaneously happen.
Furthermore, your emotions will never magically change on their own; you will never “feel” like getting up, making changes, and moving forward. It’s a matter or choice and self discipline.
So if your mindset is, “I will make changes and move on when I feel like it, when my emotions change,” that is never going to happen.
Moving on is more a matter of will.
While I do think there are actual victims out there (and anti-woke conservatives need to be sensitive to these persons),
I’m also aware of legitimate victims who cannot or who refuse to move on,
-and there are persons with Covert or Vulnerable Narcissism (a personality disorder – more about that on this blog (Link): here and (Link): here), a hallmark of which is holding a life-long self-pitying, victimhood mentality – these people, of their own accord, are mired in depression and misery of their own making, because they refuse to look inwards and take personal responsibility.
Covert Narcissists, for one, prefer to point the finger of blame for their misery at their family of origin, God, and / or their former church, ex-spouses, and so on. They never want to look at how their attitudes or actions keep them in a limited, unhappy situation.
Sorry for that very long intro, but I didn’t want anyone to get to the following link and excerpts and think by posting it that I am in denial that yes, at times in life, sometimes people have legitimate pain and grievances and can be honest to goodness victims.
I do believe there are honest- to- goodness victims out there and that these victims deserve compassion, empathy, and justice,
but – however –
I am also aware that, unfortunately, some people, whether legitimate victim or not, will milk and exploit a “victim” label to lash out at others, to demand special treatment (at the expense of others), and that clinging to a “victim” identity and view of themselves will cause them to remain stuck in unhappiness.
I have more commentary below this link with excerpts:
Pathologies of Victimhood – the Essay
(Link): Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – Victimhood Mentality
by Richard Gunderman
November 13, 2022
[Piece opens by discussing the late Sacheen Littlefeather, who claimed to be a Native American but who was actually of Mexican descent. She wanted to be viewed as a Native American to depict herself as an undertrodden member of a victim class.
As someone who actually is part Native American, I don’t view myself as a victim, so I find her ploy strange]
…Everyone has experienced genuine victimization at some point in their lives. Some have been the victims of political persecution and violent assault, while others have suffered lesser slights, such as bullying, verbal insults, and interruptions when speaking.
Most of us have also experienced situations where presumed victimhood stemmed from a mistaken assumption—for example, a driver who “cut off” a fellow motorist by abruptly changing lanes might appear to harbor malicious intent, but it might turn out that he was merely attempting to get to the hospital as quickly as possible to be with an ailing loved one.
Some among us, however, have a habit of adopting a posture of victimhood too easily and too often, a tendency that can damage communities, interpersonal relationships, and supposed victims themselves.