Victimology is “The possession of an outlook, arising from real or imagined victimization, that seems to glorify and indulge the state of being a victim.”

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Playing the victim is a symptom of our unhealthy society. Accountability is a rare commodity. We only have to look as far as the highest office in our land to see it. When one of the (allegedly) wealthiest and most presumed powerful white men on the planet considers himself a victim, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Psychologically speaking, playing the victim is a negative mindset. It is something very separate from actual victimhood.

Two years ago I realized that someone close to me was actually being my mirror. They believed they were a victim in most circumstances. It was so obvious to me, and I was unable to effectively divert their thinking. While ranting about this to my son, I suddenly realized that he and I were guilty of this as well. We didn’t present it in the same contexts or in the same ways, but we were practicing victimology just the same.

While it is true that my son has encountered prejudice and discrimination as a young Black man in America, and I have experienced misogyny and agism, we are not in a deeper sense of the word, victims. We don’t deny our legitimate experiences, but at the time of my satori, we were regularly complaining about victimhood that we were actually able to counter in most cases. He is dyslexic. I had started my career over in a new city six months before the Wellness Center I had been recruited for closed. These were not positive circumstances. And yet, he graduated from one of the top twelve academically rated Universities in America, and I started my private practice again.

When I had this awareness, I pointed it out to him, and he agreed. We both have bouts of depression.We acknowledged that our attitude as victims contributed to the recurrence of depression, not the other way around. We decided to focus on our abilities, power, blessings and joys instead of our perceived and real victimhood. Real victimhood is being the victim of circumstances beyond our control and which we can do nothing about at the time. Victimology is a seeking of attention, a false view of ourselves and the world, and an obstacle to achieving what we can achieve. It can also be the bad habit of twisted thinking.

Again, there is true victimhood. I experienced sexual harassment in my early business career before becoming a therapist. I have been denied business loans as a woman. I have been stolen from, and my son and I were harassed by a sociopathic neighbor for two years. My son’s middle and high school teachers and administrators considered a Black student making C’s to be the norm in their institutionalized racism, instead of heeding my demands for testing for his dyslexia. We have been stared at, and a supposed white friend has made racial jokes in our presence. And we acknowledge the damage and set backs these circumstances have created in our lives. However, if we had been full-blown proponents of victimology, we would never have fought back, gone beyond or risen above our situations.

People who practice victimology miss the good and positive things in life. Every interaction feels to them like a slight or an insult. It’s a very negative way to see the world.

How to explain the privileged victimologist? They manage to feel both entitlement and to see themselves as victims. There is a certain amount of narcissism in that pathology. We saw the clear difference in the Kavanaugh hearing. The actual victim did not feel entitled to be heard. In fact, she admitted to being terrified. There was no narcissism in her coming forward. The person she accused, on the other hand, presented himself as the true victim, while expressing outrage and hurt that he should be expected to answer her accusations.

There used to be a clearer pecking order. Victims were those who had actually been victimized by a person or people more powerful than they. Now, the most powerful people have managed to claim the victim ground while we weren’t paying attention. It is mind blowing how they have done this, but the bad news for them is that practicing victimology can lead to actually being victimized in ways unforeseen. Negativity draws negativity.

The most amazing thing happened when my son and I made our agreement to stop viewing the world through the eyes of victimology. Positive circumstances presented themselves. Opportunities came along, and more people became interested in my son’s comedy and video work, just as my practice grew and my writing began receiving recognition.

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While we do and will still encounter agism, misogyny. and racial prejudice, our focus is less on those things and the people who exhibit them. We focus on the people who accept us as we are, and we actually expect positive interaction with those who don’t. While that may not always work, it sure confuses the hell out of anyone with bad intentions. And that’s way more fun than practicing victimology.

Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist. Leans Left. Mindfulness practioner before it was cool. M.Ed., LPC.

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