Is a victim mentality sometimes justified?

"Victim Mentality" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Victim Mentality” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

There is a victim, and there is a victim mentality.

A victim is someone who suffers at the hands of others.

A person with a victim mentality believes that all of their suffering is the result of the negative actions of others, whether there is clear evidence for this or not.

It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.

So, if I can share personally. I know I’ve suffered at the hands of others. I was a victim. However, it’s when I turned this around inside my head to, “I deserve this!” “I will never be happy!” “I just can’t do anything right!” “It’s their fault my life sucks!” “Here we go again! This is my life. Nothing will ever change!” “This is God punishing me!” And so on. Been there. Done that. It’s a horrible place. And it can become a habit. In fact, victim mentality is an acquired attitude. I know because I’ve struggled with it.

There are extreme cases… such as women trying to get water from a well and get raped or killed and whose children go missing. It would be hard to not turn this incessant suffering at the hands of others as typical of life in this world. It would be hard, if not impossible, to not think, “This is my life! FML!”

I’ve been to the Philippines and to Haiti and met people who were living in unbelievably extreme conditions of suffering. What struck me most was their resilience. I did not detect a victim mentality. Even though they were definitely victims.

It was a lesson to me not to let myself slip into a victim mentality when things got bad. I don’t always succeed at this. Especially when my aggressors are obvious and are obviously victimizing me. There have been times in my life, even recently, when I am in a place where all the inspiring memes in the world cannot touch.

The cartoon: the sheep has a victim mentality. I’d allow it.

We talk about this kind of thing at The Lasting Supper.


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3 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    David: good job differentiating between a ‘victim’ and the ‘victim mentality’.

    A victim grieves. And hopefully, does not get stuck in the grieving process. And then, accepts the situation, learns from it, and moves on. You can sense motion in a victim.

    My observation is that when someone has the ‘victim mentality’, that he/she then sends many non-verbal signals… signalling for a round of ‘sympathizers/comforters/professional mourners’ to join in… or a ‘messiah/white knight’ to save them ….or a ‘predator/bully/controller’ to take advantage of them.

    In my opinion, all three of these responders above create toxic relationships.

    You can sense ‘no motion’ in a person with victim mentality…. the cycle never ceases.

  2. Kris799 says:

    Maybe a victim is someone who is honest about what has happened to them through no control of their own, while a “victim mentality” develops when we create stories about situations where we had some or all the control, bit messed it up and it did not go our way.

  3. Great insights my friends.