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 for clarity there are real victims and injustices. Sorting through real victimization and The Victim Complex id complicated. With that said, I will get to my points.

The Victim Complex is one of the most seductive of complexes. When you talk to a person with an active Victim Complex, they find ways 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 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: “I don’t deserve this; I am innocent; others have been bad to me.”

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) are 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 awful minutes of hurt dominate their lives evermore. Things go 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 time 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?