Sunday, March 10, 2013
The Victim Complex
A Spo-fan asked to write about the Victim Complex.
This is a charged topic; people dominated by The Victim Complex seem to be multiplying. Worse, they are easily outraged when their Victim status is challenged. A lot of my work involves listening to people who feel they are the Victim of this, that, or the other.
Unlike other complexes this one ironically fights back when someone suggests it ‘needs shrinking’.
– I will state right now there are real victims and injustices. Sorting through real victimization and The Victim Complex can be complicated. With that said, I can get to my points.
The Victim Complex is one of the most seductive of complexes. When you talk to a Victim, they find someway to get into the conversation they have been victimized. Sometimes these are the same folks who believe life is what you make of it and they can create their own destiny. In contrast, they are the first to run to a lawyer for a lawsuit, or be influenced by slights from others.
Job of the Old Testament is the Archetypal Image of the Victim. He is a ‘good man’ who doesn’t deserve his sorrows. His misfortunes are intentional – God allows the devil to torment and ruin Job. People ask Job “what he did wrong” to deserve such misfortune; he legitimately replies he did nothing wrong. This captures the sense of Victimhood viz. “I don’t deserve this. I am innocent and others have been bad to me.”
(An aside note; the point is for Job to ultimately trust Heaven that no matter what, God has things under control.)
Victims have a hard time moving on. To heal, they have to accept harsh truths;
1) They can’t undo the damage.
2) There will be no apology or real justice for the hurts.
3) They have to admit ‘defeat’ viz. 1) and 2) will be so
4) They really are in control of their destinies, not just a passive recipient to outside forces.
I’ve known people who let a few minutes of hurt dominate their lives for evermore. Things are worse when someone makes a career out of The Victim. The Complex can be an ugly dog in the manger. Until life is corrected to the way they want to it to be, they – and no one else – may be happy.
Perhaps here is a good point to disclose I am wary of groups. A support group tends to invest energy in keeping its members from growing up and going away. Group members can reinforce the legitimacy of Victim, rather than helping each other move on. To announce to your fellow group members you are healing/moving on betrays the other members of the group.
On the positive side, the Victim Archetype warns when you are succumbing to Victim energy. It points out you have a choice – a hurt can take over, or you can opt not to let it haunt you, and you can turn it into something proactive. When people become conscious they are in a Victim Complex, they usually vow ’Never again!”. They let go of the event haunting them; they move on with their lives. Scarlet O’Hara raising her fist to heaven stating “As God is my Witness I will never go hungry again!” has some ring of Victim complex liberation.
Sometimes the released energies are translated to helping society victims (Martin Luther King and Gandhi come to mind here).
One of my patients said the following when she was freeing herself from decades of Victim energy.
“20 years ago I was physically assaulted for 30 minutes. I’ve been mentally assaulted [by the Victim role] for 20 years. “
Watch for Victim energy next time you feel a bristling sensation, when you feel imposed upon or outraged, or when you are having a self-pity party — are there elements of being a Victim?
I have come to hate the word "victim." Are there true victims in life? Sure there are, our houses burn down, we're robbed or we're raped. A true victim is one who has had no part in some sort of a personal tragedy that has affected their circumstance in life.
Most of us can be classified as victims of something, the fact is, bad things happen in life.
What I find so despicable about the way we treat and talk about victims, especially when talking about people who have been involved in some form of sexual abuse is partially touched upon in the story above were it talks about victimhood being "one of the most seductive complexes."
The worst part is; many in society will talk about a person who has been involved in some form of sexual abuse and say, "Their life is ruined"; really? This is a terrible thing to say to another human being who is still alive and breathing. What if they believe you? You, have now given this person permission to not succeed. This is a very seductive trap, because now "we" have given this person our permission to not even try, because it is now a foregone conclusion that your life is over. What a terrible thing to do to another living, breathing human being. We don't just do this as individuals, but as a society as a whole, we need to change the way things are done.
I hate using the word "victim" to describe another living human being and from this point forward I will always try to describe people, regardless of their circumstances as something other than a victim and don't ever let yourself become a "victim" of anything, even when something bad happens to you.