[November 10, 2022] There is little doubt that the West has a serious attraction to “victimhood”; it’s believed to be a virtue and desirable. Richard Gunderman, MD, Ph.D., is an experienced doctor and serious thinker about the health of populations. He takes a strategic look at the West’s victimhood mentality in a recent article titled Pathologies of Victimhood.
“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.”
Of interest, Dr. Gunderman notes that victimhood transcends political boundaries. I found that unexpected as we all have observed a staggering amount of visual victimization, real or perceived, by minority groups, women, gender-challenged, and from many non-European cultures.
“In American politics, a history of victimization, perceived or actual, is often treated as a credential that lends credence and moral authority to a particular person, group, or point of view.”
Psychologists call this a “tendency for interpersonal victimhood,” defined as seeing oneself as a victim of another’s evil actions and being preoccupied with being hurt long after the event ended. Dr. Gunderman and researchers identify four components of victimhood:
- The need for recognition of victimhood.
- Moral elitism, taking their own “immaculate morality” for granted.
- A lack of empathy; being oblivious to the suffering of others.
- Rumination; voluntarily experiencing the situation over and over.
This tendency to victimhood is linked to several adverse consequences:
- They don’t believe they can make a difference, showing less initiative and adaptability.
- Enter relationships expecting to be victimized, often becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Forgiveness is very difficult or impossible; opportunities to exact revenge are common.
“How should individuals and groups with a tendency to interpersonal victimhood be approached? First, it is usually unhelpful to attempt to argue them out of it, because doing so would require them to relinquish their victimhood. Second, when confronted with persons who are unable to forgive, it is best to redouble efforts to be forgiving, since the only alternative is often ruptured relationships. Third, because such individuals bear a psychological affliction, it is best not to rely on them to provide fair and balanced accounts of situations or to make prudent, well-informed, and thoughtful decisions on behalf of others, largely because they see matters only from their own point of view.”
The real solution is to convince ourselves that victimhood is not a virtue.
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