Victim Mentality and Negative Human Outcomes

By Jeff Boone

Many people don’t understand what victim mentality is let alone how it contributes to negative human outcomes.  This article attempts to explain it in layman’s terms while specifically connecting it to community malaise.

But first a comment about envy.  Specifically, I am talking about the natural human tendency to measure one’s self against associative peers and then to develop an emotional response from perceived inequity.

In his 1930 book “The Conquest of Happiness” philosopher and Nobel Prize winning author Bertrand Russell devoted an entire chapter to the subject.  Russell, and many others before and after him, concluded that envy was one our most troublesome human traits.

Some excerpts:

  • “Next to worry probably one of the most potent causes of unhappiness is envy. Envy is, I should say, one of the most universal and deep-seated of human passions. It is very noticeable in children before they are a year old, and has to be treated with the most tender respect by every educator. The very slightest appearance of favouring one child at the expense of another is instantly observed and resented. Distributive justice, absolute, rigid, and unvarying, must be observed by anyone who has children to deal with.”
  • “Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he is also himself rendered unhappy by envy. Instead of deriving pleasure from what he has, he derives pain from what others have. If he can, he deprives others of their advantages, which to him is as desirable as it would be to secure the same advantages himself.” 
  • “With the wise man, what he has does not cease to be enjoyable because someone else has something else. Envy, in fact, is one form of a vice, partly moral, partly intellectual, which consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. I am earning, let us say, a salary sufficient for my needs. I should be content, but I hear that someone else whom I believe to be in no way my superior is earning a salary twice as great as mine. Instantly, if I am of an envious disposition, the satisfactions to be derived from what I have grow dim, and I begin to be eaten up with a sense of injustice.”

But is envy a bad thing?

Apparently that is the widely held view.  For example, In Hinduism, envy is considered a disastrous emotion.  In Islam, envy is an impurity of the heart and can destroy one’s good deeds.

From the Bible, James 4:2-3:

  • “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

But more recently psychologists have divided envy into two types: malicious and benign, and offer that benign types of envy can become a beneficial motivational force.  However, there is debate on this theory as many behavior specialists believe what is labeled benign envy incorporates a secondary response which is an actual remedy (motivation to achieve)… serving to mitigate the fully negative emotion of envy.

Leaving this “good-bad” debate aside for the moment and focusing on what is labeled malicious envy; it is clearly identified as a damaging and destructive force.  And so it serves reason to see it as a human trait that must be overcome.

It is true that the size of your neighbor’s house or the expense of the car he drives does not impact your happiness except for the impact of your envy.  Complaints of inequity are largely just a function of envy.  Resolve the emotional response of envy and much of the complaint of inequity goes away.

But back to the definition of victim mentality.

Wikipedia defines it as an: “acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard him or herself as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to think, speak and act as if that were the case — even in the absence of clear evidence.  Victim mentality is primarily learned.”

In his blog article entitled “Victim mentality, self-efficacy, politics”, psychology professor Richard Parncutt delivers a summary of his thinking about the causes and effects of victim mentality (VM).

Parncutt compares VM to things like self-efficacy, accountability mentality and psychological hardiness.  Compared to VM, he sees these as opposing personality traits considered generally positive and contributing to greater individual happiness.

He lists beliefs that he sees as underlying VM:

  • “Limiting beliefs about one’s own ability or influence a situation; a feeling of powerlessness.”
  • “Ascribing non-existent negative intentions to other people; believing that others are generally luckier and happier, and wondering why one has turned out to be (or has somehow been chosen to be) the unlucky one (“Why me?”).”
  • “Failing or being unwilling to take responsibility for one’s own actions or actions to which one has contributed; instead, blaming others for a situation that one has created oneself or significantly contributed to.”
  • “The idea that if things are the way they are, and especially if things are bad, they probably will not change; or if people are the way they are, they probably will not change (a belief in “nature” rather than “nurture”). This belief reduces motivation to engage in processes that could lead to a solution.”
  • “Gaining short-term pleasure from feeling sorry for oneself or eliciting pity from others; eliciting sympathy by exaggerating the bad things other people have done to the “victim” and forgetting the good things; developing convincing and sophisticated arguments in support of such ideas and using them to convince oneself and others of victim status.”

Parncutt lists some patterns of talking and behavior that identity VM:

  • “Complaining about situations which one has caused or to which one has contributed, while pretending not to be aware of this connection.”
  • “If there is a choice between solving a problem or just complaining about it, a preference for the latter, which can even develop into a general dislike of non-VM people with a helpful, problem-solving orientation.”
  • “Anger toward people who are basically innocent, coupled with convoluted attempts to explain their guilt and hence justify the anger. More generally, a failure to take responsibility for one’s own emotions (both positive and negative) and instead attribute them to other people.”
  • “A tendency to lack consideration for other people (even in minor everyday events) and compensate by promoting rigid rules of conduct, rather than developing a natural feeling of responsibility toward others.”
  • “Defensiveness in everyday conversation, reading a non-existent negative intention into a neutral question and reacting with a corresponding accusation, hindering the collective solution of problems and instead creating unnecessary conflict.”
  • “Unemployment or dissatisfaction with current employment. Many people really are victims of an unfair socio-economic system or a poor educational background. People with VM are not victims in that real sense. Instead, they may have a good background and skills but miss opportunities because of an exaggerated fear of taking risks or experimenting with something new.”
  • “Various forms of addiction.”

He also lists how people with VM can struggle in relationships:

  • “People with VM may attract each other, and the resultant relationship may become co-dependent. VM is not the only cause of co-dependency, but it may be an important one.”
  • “Failing to take or give advice in an appropriate or constructive manner. If someone suggests to the “victim” that they do something, they react defensively as if they were being attacked. They don’t realise the person was just trying to help. More generally, they don’t realise that listening.” to advice from people who care is one of the secrets of success and happiness.
  • “People with VM have the feeling that interactions with other people are generally unfair. That makes it justifiable to do nasty things to other people, pretend that they are innocent, and after that complain about other’s negative reaction.”
  • “The “victim” feels that life has been unfair to him or her, therefore it is justified to be unfair to others. That includes dishonesty with others, but also dishonesty with oneself.”
  • Parncutt offers an interesting explanation of the offender-victim reversal and political effect of a pervasive victim mentality.
  • “VM can cause violence – either physical or verbal. The attacker believes him- or herself to be a victim of the person being attacked, which justifies the attack. This can lead to a reversal of offender and victim, in the mind of the offender. The true offender is presented as the victim, and the true victim is presented as the offender. Confusions of this kind are common in harassment (aka bullying and mobbing), making it difficult for investigators to get a clear picture of who is causing what. Such confusions are also typical of persecution and, in extreme cases, genocide.”
  • “VM has been associated with repressive political regimes. If the leaders of a country, and the citizens who support them, collectively feel like victims of neighboring countries (e.g. following past border disputes), those leaders may be more likely to advocate violent conflict resolution or suppression of freedom of speech.”

Lastly, Parncutt offers a sweeping conclusion of the macro problem and opportunity related to VM:

“VM is a candidate for a fundamental explanation (“Urerklärung”) for the repeated failure of humankind to solve obvious and pressing problems. Today, people who care about global poverty, global warming, global economics, global biological diversity, global peace and so on are constantly and creatively developing realistic solutions to these problems. At the same time, these solutions are constantly being blocked by other people. The end result: the problems are not solved and the efforts of those who care are wasted. The blockers are often apparently sensible people presenting apparently good arguments. They are often intelligent, successful, and popular. How can we explain such behavior? Maybe they are simply suffering from VM. At some level, they think that life has been fundamentally unfair to them, which in their minds justifies their attitudes, even when others suggest to them gently that they are perhaps being selfish, stupid or both. The blockers are actively blocking progress, but we should also consider passive resistance. Many well-educated middle-class people understand very well what is happening and may even realise that they are part of the problem, but they are doing nothing about it. If you ask them why, their reply is often a variation on “I can’t”. “Realistically”, they say, these problems are simply too big, so they give up. That may seem logical on the surface, but the underlying reason may be a form of VM. The problem could be addressed by trying to reduce VM and increase self-efficacy in the entire population. Self-efficacy can be taught at all educational levels from kindergarten to university.”

I don’t think anyone can dispute the ugly history of slavery and race relations in this country.  For me, the saddest aspect of our history is our modern inability to achieve greater positive outcomes after 60 years of profound civil rights advances.  I put the majority blame squarely on a pervasive victim mentality.   And that problem is exacerbated by the problem of unchecked class envy.

There are solutions to our social problems.  But we don’t pursue them because many block the way.  They block the way largely because of a locked and loaded victim mentality.  And this in turn perpetuates the status of the so called victim and provides a breeding ground for destructive envy to fester and explode as we have seen in Ferguson.  There are those that will debate this point… claiming that the riots and looting of Ferguson were a direct response of white-black race relations and racially-unfair policing.  However, it is clear that the shooting of Michael Brown, justified or not, was only a catalyst for deeper community malaise.

Instead of the same tired old anti-cop racism narrative being promulgated into the low socioeconomic community, because it is clearly not helping make any improvements in our low socioeconomic community, why not instead focus on growing individual and collective self-efficacy, accountability mentality and psychological hardiness?  Victim mentality is learned, so it can also be unlearned/corrected.

And while we are at it, why not work to improve the schools and improve job and career prospects?

And why not preach strong individual and community morality… including the destructive tendency of envy?  Teach that material things are not the measure of a person, but if desired can be earned… ethically and morally.  And why not start developing psychological hardiness-the tools that help a person overcome inevitable adversity and life challenges… including bias and mistreatment that most humans face from time to time.

Why not indeed?  Might our victim mentality block community advancement progress yet again?

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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69 thoughts on “Victim Mentality and Negative Human Outcomes”

  1. Tia Will

    Frankly

    I found your article fascinating. There is much here that we agree upon. And much that we do not. You seem to see victim mentality and class envy as unidirectional. I do not.

    While you repeatedly see those in lower socio economic circumstances as demonstrating victim mentality, I see as much “victim mentality” coming from those who resent having to pay taxes to support those living in poverty. The flip side of the coin is the whining attitude “the government is taking my money ( of which I have enough to have a home, shelter, plenty of food, medical care and some recreation) and giving it to those who are barely surviving. It’s not fair.” From my point of view, the non victim mentality position would be, I have enough, therefore it is my responsibility to contribute to the well being and advancement of those who have not been as fortunate as I have. Now before anyone goes off on me for saying this as a “rich doctor”, I want to point out that it was my mother, who never once complained about taxes and regularly helped those who had less than we did even when she was working cleaning houses and bussing dishes for minimum wage with no benefits, from whom I learned this attitude.

    When you cite class envy, you also see this also as the “underclass” as you have called them envying the rich. You fail to see, or do not acknowledge is the willingness of the upper class to manipulate systems so as to keep the lower socioeconomic groups from advancing. You yourself have criticized for example the business model of WalMart in which wages have been kept so low that they were encouraging their own employees to donate to those whose wages were not high enough to allow them to feed their families. However, you do not take that one step further and see this as the “class warfare” that it is, but shrug it off as a “bad business model”. Another example of this is the practice of manipulation of allotted work hours so that the employee does not have enough hours to get benefits or be paid overtime. Practices that cause definite material harm to those that are least able to absorb it, you write off as legitimate business practices instead of seeing them as exploitation for profit.

    why not instead focus on growing individual and collective self-efficacy, accountability mentality and psychological hardiness”

    Here we are in agreement. I firmly believe in individual and collective responsibility for our actions. I just take these concepts further than you do. I believe that those of us who have had the good fortune to be at the upper end of the economic scale whether through the luck of being born into an affluent family or whether through our own efforts to overcome adverse circumstances have a responsibility to pay forward our good fortune. We have the responsibility to take care of ourselves, our immediate families, but also the responsibility to help those who have been less fortunate in order to build a stronger, healthier and more prosperous community.

    I believe that the Victim Mentality and envy exist. However, I believe that they exist as universal human traits with individuals manifesting varying degrees of each. I do not believe that either can be ascribed to only one socio economic group and that to do so is another way to “block progress” by ascribing motive based on class not on individual merit.

    1. Frankly

      Since you named me I will respond!

      I see as much “victim mentality” coming from those who resent having to pay taxes to support those living in poverty.

      I don’t see that except for a very tiny minority.  I generally see producing people complaining simply about the level of taxation.  I’m sure you would agree that taxing 100% is too much and taxing 0% is too little.  So somewhere there is an optimum level of taxation.  The debate is about what that optimum level of taxation is.  Too much and it stifles economic growth due to the lower returns from capital investment in economic growth.  Too little and it stifles government investment in things like education, infrastructure and national defense… other things that have the potential to stifle economic growth.

      You fail to see, or do not acknowledge is the willingness of the upper class to manipulate systems so as to keep the lower socioeconomic groups from advancing.

      The upper class as you call it is only those having been in a lower socioeconomic group at some point. There is always competition for limited resources, but I disagree that upper-class people manipulate the system only keep poor people poor.  The advance of the information economy has made the challenge more difficult because once a person falls behind it is harder to keep up.  Think of it as surfing a bigger and faster wave.  Catch it and the ride is more prosperous.  Miss it and you have to paddle much harder to catch it.  I think your mindset of poor verses rich needs to be adjusted with the fact that government redistribution does not make a poor person richer because it isn’t really their money and they haven’t really earned it.   Only if the money is used to develop the poor person’s capability to economic self-sufficiency will it be useful to improve income mobility… basically helping the lower sociology-economic people better compete for the limited resources.

      I believe that those of us who have had the good fortune to be at the upper end of the economic scale

      Some people don’t see it so much as good fortune as much as the results of hard work, risk-taking and persistence.  You can be thankful for your success and thankful for a country and system that allowed you to achieve success without being racked with guilt over it in comparison to those that haven’t achieved the same.   You can still be compassionate about economic circumstances of people without succumbing to a potentially destructive dependency-causing altruism.

  2. Michelle Millet

    VM and racial inequity are not mutually exclusive.  My guess is that both contribute to the civil unrest that we see after racially charged events, and thus it is important that both be addressed.  Ignoring evidence that minorities are  treated unfairly by police,  does not help solve social problems.  I agree that VM plays a destructive role in our society,  on many different levels, but using it as an excuse for people to be treated unfairly is just as destructive.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        First I apologize for my indiscretion. Either subconscious or completely unintentional.

        When have you heard any dialog on VM except for this article?”

        Actually this does not seem to be as well hidden a concept as you think. There have been several bloggers who have taken up this concept, Bill Cosby dating back many years was a proponent of self empowerment although I am unaware of him labeling the deficit thereof with the term “VM” , Chris Rock has done a comedy routine with this as the basis and it was being explored in my social science courses back as far as the late 1970’s. It is a very standard right wing concept which I believe gets plenty of exposure albeit under various names. The idea of a victim mentality is also explored in writings about women’s experiences in making choices regarding home versus work balance although again not always under this name.

  3. sisterhood

    “…instead of the same tired old anti-cop racism narrative being promulgated into the low socioeconomic community, because it is clearly not helping make any improvements in our low socioeconomic community, why not instead focus on growing individual and collective self-efficacy, accountability mentality and psychological hardiness?  Victim mentality is learned, so it can also be unlearned/corrected.”

    Your approach sounds like you are saying it’s okay to be a racist or a homophobe or a bully, or the cops are just going to treat citizens unfairly, so the person being hated should just acquire a thicker skin.

    The below quote was making the rounds on the internet a while ago:

    “It is not our job to toughen up our children to face a cruel and heartless world. It is our job to make the world a little less cruel and heartless. “-Knoll

    I don’t want kids to be raised to be “hardy”. Raise them to be kind and compassionate.

    Your approach would not solve the problem of people like the man who beat up Mikey Partida. You would probably tell Mikey to just be more “psychologically hardy”.

    1. hpierce

      Just being kind and compassionate will NOT stop a person like the one who attacked Mr Partida.  I believe we need to teach our children to be kind and compassionate, but be prepared to effectively defend themselves and others in the event that kindness and compassion are ineffective.  Even to the point of being willing and able to use lethal force if absolutely necessary.  By lethal force, I’m not saying having the intent to kill, but if there is someone on drugs/alcohol, with a weapon (including fists), with imminent danger to self or others, starting with a push or a slap.  If someone saw what was going on in the Partida incident, and acted to clean the attacker’s clock, Mr Partida would have suffered far less injury, and the attacker might have learned a lesson greater than the justice system is likely to give.

      1. Barack Palin

        I agree with hpierce.  My son was getting picked on by the neighborhood bully and I sat him down and told him he had to stand up for himself instead of having his parents intervene.  The next time the bully tried to hit my son he hauled off and punched him in the mouth.  The bully never picked on him again, but more importantly my son learned a lesson that he needed to stand up for himself and not have his parents always take care of his problems.  I felt good knowing that my son felt good about himself.

        I always told my son that if he got bullied at school that he needed to stand up for himself and that I would deal with the school administrators if they tried to suspend him for doing so.

        1. Frankly

          BP – my son had a similar experience.  He was suspended for three days and not only did the bully never touch him again, but he got respect from all the other kids for getting suspended for standing up for himself.   I had to restrain myself from going after the school by considering that school administration was so dysfunctional that a suspension of a kid bullied but that stands up for himself should be expected.  The schools tend to promote victim mentality over self-efficiency and psychological hardiness.

        2. Barack Palin

          Frankly, my son would always tell me that he couldn’t fight back in school because he would get suspended.  I didn’t want him to use that as an excuse to not stand up for himself so I told him he had better defend himself.  I also told him never to start a fight with a bully, that I could more argue with the administrators if he was defending himself.

           

        3. Robert Canning

          I would also suggest that part of your son’s lesson is that violence is a solution to some of life’s ills. Not the kind of lesson I want my children to learn. And not one I believe a parent should be teaching.

        4. South of Davis

          Robert wrote:

          > I would also suggest that part of your son’s lesson is

          > that violence is a solution to some of life’s ills. 

          Violence “is” a solution to some of life’s ills…  It should not be the first thing you try but unfortunately it is often the only solution (if one of the Northrop’s kids came home after Daniel Marsh had killed Mr. Northrop just telling him to stop killing, hand over the knife and wait for the police probably would not have worked)…

          > And not one I believe a parent should be teaching.

          I’m not going to tell anyone how to raise their kids so feel free to tell your kids to lie down on the playground and let the bullies kick them in the face (or give their lunch money to anyone who asks for it)…

    2. Frankly

      Being Psychologically hardy does not mean you agree to suffer abuse.  In fact, that is a trait of a person with VM… actually inviting abuse to help perpetuate the victim status.  Being psychologically hardy means you learn to recognize true abuse from the the normal interactions of humans and human relationships and deal with each appropriately.

    3. sisterhood

      I agree with South of D. I also agree with Don Shor. Teach your kids to walk away. Report the bully to the school. I think Davis schools are becoming more sensitive to bullying. Especially since it was reported that Dan Marsh was teased and bullied. I would like to hear from an school administartor about how they handle bullying.

      Then, again, if you teach a peaceful solution, you can’t brag on this website that your child is hitting other children. Nothing I would ever brag about. Kids learn violence at home- domestic violence. If you hit your kids as a way to get your way, instead of using your intelligence, that’s what how they learn to solve their problems.

      1. KSmith

        I’m not sure how they handle it now, but when my daughter was in elementary school, it was pretty lackadaisical. In fact, the one time (in 3rd or 4th grade) that my daughter was involved in a situation that would even have bordered on getting physical (the rest of it was relational aggression, which IMO is even more damaging sometimes than outright violence), she was threatened with equal disciplinary action as the bully.

        Another girl cornered my daughter in the school restroom and would not let her leave (she grabbed onto my daughter’s arm, trying to block her), and when my daughter jerked away from her and walked out, her action was characterized as “violence” on the same level as the girl who had originally grabbed onto her and blocked her way.

        So, while I’m definitely no advocate of violence, I’m also not a big fan of letting my kid just sit there and get beaten on when she can get away or defend herself.

  4. Biddlin

    “Many people don’t understand what victim mentality is let alone how it contributes to negative human outcomes. ”

    Some of us even think it is a cynical construct of the ruling class, intellectual onanism designed to minimise their culpability and  any need for changing the status quo.

    ;>)/

  5. South of Davis

    If a poor person in America wanted to mow a lawn, cook a meal, braid some hair or sell a couple smokes in the 1930’s they didn’t need to pay the Government first.

    Today big business that pay “protection money” (also called perfectly legal campaign contributions) will send out cops to stop (and sometimes kill) anyone who competes with them.

    It is sad that if a poor blind African American woman wants to braid a girls hair for $5 she can’t legally do it without a “government license” (fortunately some people are working to stop this):

    http://braidingfreedom.com/braiding-initiative/standing-up-for-natural-hair-braiders-right-to-earn-an-honest-living/

      1. South of Davis

        wdf1 wrote:

        > It is also sad that a minister or any other person acting on

        > the conviction of personal faith can’t feed the homeless

        I am happy to see that Government overreach like bans on feeding the homeless and braiding hair is bringing together people on BOTH the right and left of the political spectrum and will reduce the effectiveness of the current “red team/blue team” divide and conquer strategy where the people in power (on BOTH the right and left) feed select information to voters on “their team” to stay in power…

  6. Davis Progressive

    the question i guess i have for the author is whether he believes there are people who are discriminated against or otherwise oppressed in this society and how they should handle it.

    also he brings in a lot of thoughts, but none that deal with things like the victimization of women or children and domestic abuse, in which the very act itself begins over time to destroy self-esteem to the point where they become apologists for the behavior and believe they deserve it.

    why would that be limited to an individual rather than a group of individuals who are essentially dehumanized over a period of a few hundred years – oppressed, beaten, subjugated.  how long do you think it would take to overcome that – especially in a society where both the separate and the unequal vestiges remain.

    1. Frankly

      how long do you think it would take to overcome that

      You mean how long would it take for a member of that group to become the President of the most powerful and complex nation in the history of the world, and other members to become CEOs, legislators, authors… basically demonstrate they can and do become as successful as any other group?

      Let me ask the question: how would you know when that has been overcome?

      1. Davis Progressive

        the election of obama proves that an african american with the right characteristics at the right time can win elected office.  however, we still see a vast achievement gap, poverty, crime, dependency, etc.

        “how would you know when that has been overcome?”

        probably at the point at which you can’t statistically distinguish people by race

        1. South of Davis

          DP wrote:

          > probably at the point at which you can’t statistically distinguish people by race

          Without TOTAL Government control this will never happen (the Government would need to force/enslave people to do things they don’t want to do in order to make all races “statistically” equal)…

        2. Frankly

          The pursuit of liberal egalitarian utopia which would just be dystopia if achieved.   Trading an imperfect heaven for a perfect hell.  I’m actually pleased that you, DP, came clear with his measure of “overcome”.   It confirms a lot.

          Better start oppressing those Asians soon since they tend to dominate in a lot of the positive statistical outcomes.

           

    2. South of Davis

      DP wrote:

      > a group of individuals who are essentially dehumanized over a

      > period of a few hundred years – oppressed, beaten, subjugated.

      > how long do you think it would take to overcome that

      The Jews and Chinese  in America are doing fairly well today despite quite a bit of discrimination over the past “few hundred years”…

      1. Davis Progressive

        africans were brought to this country at the outset and enslaved.  their families and identities and cultures destroyed.  finally in the 1860s slavery was abolished but quickly replaced by a psuedo-slavery of jim crow.  it took another 100 years to abolish de jure segregation.  there is no comparable experience in duration or totality.

  7. Robb Davis

    Question: Is the concept of “victim mentality” any different (qualitatively) from the concept of “privilege mentality?”

    If a person with a victim mentality suffers from envy, does not a person suffering from privilege mentality suffer from a feeling of natural superiority (or to use a more religious term–pride)?

    (Proverbs 16:18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Jesus told the story of a wealthy man who used his wealth to build bigger barns and then haughtily took his ease convinced that his wealth and privilege had shielded him from approaching mortality–God, in turn, demanded his life and he was called a fool.)

    Please consider exploring the concept of privilege in the same way you have explored the concept of VM.

    Perhaps victim mentality and privilege mentality live in the same community, feeding off each other to the detriment of everyone’s well being.

    1. Frankly

      Here is the way I look at this starting with a question… in this country the “privileged” are who and whom?

      Note that this isn’t South Africa before or after Apartheid.

      If being white is such a privilege today, then how do you explain every non-white that has achieved stunning success, including our black President?

      Is a child born with the higher IQ privileged?   What about the child born tall and handsome with abundant self confidence?

      Doesn’t either child still have to work and strive and take risks to try and succeed?  Certainly you can make the case that they are privileged having the upper hand in competition for limited resources.  But I know a lot of people coming from families of meager means having fewer academic gifts and not blessed with significant beauty that have achieved great things.  So are they privileged or is it something else?  Two children with identical racial, socioeconomic and family upbringings… why does one succeed and the other become addicted to unhealthy things?  Is that evidence of privilege?

      Is luck a privilege?   I find that many people seemingly lucky in life actually strategically maneuvered themselves to be able to exploit opportunities.  But I suppose there are some that are just plain lucky.  However, I think their numbers are too small to be that concerned about.

      The wealthy pay most of the taxes so that the bottom 50% pay little to no taxes.

      Wealthy conservatives donate a greater percentage of their wealth than does any other economic level/demographic.

      So do we really see privilege mentality?

      I agree 100% that haughty and exploitative behavior from a wealthy person is at least as worthy of scorn as is a victim mentality.  But I think you and others might be incorrectly identifying what is really just self-efficacy and psychological hardiness… the same that helped achieve success but becoming politically incorrect after success is achieved.   It is a form of negative projecting that is a hallmark of VM… that “misery likes company” tendency… and it is debilitating and destructive.

      Money does fund authority.  You and others don’t like this and your egalitarian senses demand that money as power be neutralized.   But then something else takes power and it usually exploits that power to accumulate money though nefarious means that have no connection to value delivered and true earning.

      But the bottom line for me is that, in this country with the exception of government meddling and restrictions, money, power, influence are all achievable for all groups.  There are external roadblocks.  There are external road blocks for everyone all the time.  It is the internal roadblocks that have the most influence in negative outcomes… and VM is a standard placeholder for most human internal roadblocks.

      1. Don Shor

        Sam Walton achieved great wealth and influence. His children have privilege. They’re an extreme example, but it makes the point. Individuals can overcome the factors that make it harder for them than for people from other ethnic groups, but that doesn’t negate the overall point that some groups have more to overcome.
        If you read the article Dave Hart linked, you will see how generations of private behavior and public policies have kept some groups of Americans from being able to readily move up financially, making them less able to move for better jobs, and certainly you understand that there have been policies and practices that kept them out of many of our top professions. Sure, that has changed to some degree. But surely you can see that the odds are still stacked against them.

        There are external road blocks for everyone all the time.

        Those external roadblocks have been much more pervasive than you seem to admit for many Americans. My grandfather, born of Jewish background, could walk away from that and leave behind the discrimination that accompanied it. He could change his name, lose his accent, and get into a top-flight university (Brown) that usually wouldn’t have admitted him. And from there, he could achieve his goals. It’s a lot harder to leave behind your ethnicity when it’s your skin color.
        I think Robb has made a very good point that you are failing to acknowledge.

        1. Frankly

          Don – you and others really do have a problem that is easily identifiable in your constant reflections to historical evidence to make a case for the present.  I am not a psychologist nor physician, but it is a clear indication that something emotional or cerebral is awry.

          Today, if he were alive and well, would your grandfather have any of those problems?  No, he would not… at least not enough to justify a crusade against “white privilege. ”

          Please stop doing that.  Let’s focus on the hear and now.

          If a person is stuck in a historical context and using it as an excuse, then he/she is stuck in a victim mentality.

          In this country the number of old-money wealthy that are connected to protected privilege are too few to be considered a problem.   Even the Waltons are not old money by any stretch.  Most, if not all, of the real old money wealthy are screaming liberals that you should be proud of.

          Here is the list…

          http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/

          The problem you and others have with the “a few control all the wealth” narrative is that they are mostly recently wealthy.  Liberals have a real problem in this country because they cannot really find any robber barons and so they have to make up a mythical wealthy old Scrooge type.

           

          1. Don Shor

            you and others really do have a problem that is easily identifiable in your constant reflections to historical evidence to make a case for the present. I am not a psychologist nor physician, but it is a clear indication that something emotional or cerebral is awry.

            I urge you, once again, to desist from this psychobabble. History is a factor in how we got where we are today.

            at least not enough to justify a crusade against “white privilege. ”

            Since I’m not “crusading” against anything, I call this a strawman. Do you acknowledge that for any given group of people, their historical context has any influence — overall for the members of that group — on their likelihood of success?
            I didn’t say the Waltons were old money, new money, or any kind of money. Sam Walton earned his money. His children did not. If you can’t see how that gives them privilege, then I really can’t help you.

        2. Frankly

          Do you acknowledge that for any given group of people, their historical context has any influence — overall for the members of that group — on their likelihood of success?

          Why would it unless you are talking about eugenics?  But even then…

          “Today is a new day. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape your life. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality and embrace the truth of your greatness. You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life!”
          Steve Maraboli

          “Life is not compassionate towards victims. The trick is not to see yourself as one. It’s never too late! I know I’ve felt like the victim in various situations in my life, but, it’s never too late for me to realize that it’s my responsibility to stand on victorious ground and know that whatever it is I’m experiencing or going through, those are just the clouds rolling by while I stand here on the top of this mountain! This mountain called Victory! The clouds will come and the clouds will go, but the truth is that I’m high up here on this mountaintop that reaches into the sky! I am a victor. I didn’t climb up the mountain, I was born on top of it!”
          C. JoyBell C.

          “There is a fine line between compassion and a victim mentality. Compassion though is a healing force and comes from a place of kindness towards yourself. Playing the victim is a toxic waste of time that not only repels other people, but also robs the victim of ever knowing true happiness.”
          Bronnie Ware

          “There are two different kinds of people in the world. There are people who instinctively look for every chance to be a “victim” and those who look for every chance to rise above—regardless of where they are in life and what’s happening around them. There are people who realize their ability to create (greatly influence) reality toward a positive direction for themselves and those around them, and unfortunately those who use this power we all have for destructive purposes for themselves and others—many times without even knowing what they’re doing or the power they have inside themselves. We are all powerful individuals. Let’s use that power to create something beautiful!”
          Christopher Hawke

          “At first you might wonder what you did to deserve such treatment. Nothing, probably, so that doesn’t matter. What matters is that, eventually, the abuse becomes the status quo. It’s no longer about the whats and whys (“what did I do?” “why are they doing this?”) but the whens and hows (“when are they going to do it?” “how are they going to get me?”). Persecution becomes inevitable, inescapable. And once you get into the victim mindset, you’re fucked. The bullies don’t even need to hurt you now; your poor, warped, pathetic brain is doing half the work for them.”
          Nenia Campbell

          “When you encounter uncomfortable situations, you can either decide to be victim or an over-comer. Always choose to be an over-comer. Grace is within our reach to be an over-comer.”
          Lailah Gifty Akita

          “…These politically correct language initiatives are misguided and harmful. They create highly entitled professional “victims” who expect to be free from any offense, and they engender a stifling atmosphere where all individuals walk on eggshells lest they might commit a linguistic capital crime.”
          Gad Saad

          1. Don Shor

            Why do you keep referring to eugenics? No, that isn’t what I’m referring to, nor was it what DP was referring to.
            When you are born and raised in a poor neighborhood, and encounter housing and job discrimination, it’s harder to succeed in life. Not impossible, just harder.

        3. Frankly

          Sam Walton earned his money. His children did not.

          How do you know what his children earned or did not earn?

          You do know that business generally does not just succeed because it is… especially in competitive industries.

          So your issue is inheritance?  You want to prevent the children of successful people from inheritance of any type?

          1. Don Shor

            They inherited their money. They didn’t earn it. That’s a fact.

            You want to prevent the children of successful people from inheritance of any type?

            Did I say that? Another strawman. No: I want you to acknowledge that inherited wealth confers privilege. Actually, at this point, I’d like you to acknowledge that privilege even exists.

        4. Frankly

          When you are born and raised in a poor neighborhood, and encounter housing and job discrimination, it’s harder to succeed in life. Not impossible, just harder.

          Sure.  When you are born and raised in a low economic opportunity environment life can be harder.

          When are born with red hair and freckles, life can be harder.

          But you cannot be discriminated on for housing and jobs because of race… it is against the law.

          You are clinging very tightly to the “less-privileged” victim mentality as if it would cause you personal anxiety to lose it.

          Note that everyone that lives in the US has privilege compared to the majority of people living in the rest of the world.  You can let that thought be debilitating, or you can just go make something good happen.  Many people in other countries strive to come to the US so the CAN make something good happen… and many of those people are black.  So why do recent black immigrants do so much better than existing American blacks?

          Do you understand destructive emotions? You might want to read some Daniel Goleman stuff.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            as if it would cause you personal anxiety to lose it.

            You should stop practicing psychology without a license.

        5. Frankly

          They inherited their money. They didn’t earn it. That’s a fact.

          Most of what they inherited is ownership of the business which has a current valuation and is a big part of their listed wealth.  But that valuation would plummet if the business failed… and so would their “money”.

          1. Don Shor

            They don’t run the business. They have no influence in the valuation and could only cause the value to “plummet” if they somehow took control and were allowed to behave in a wildly irresponsible fashion. They are the epitome of privilege.

        6. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > but it makes the point. Individuals can overcome the factors that

          > make it harder for them than for people from other ethnic groups,

          > but that doesn’t negate the overall point that some groups have

          > more to overcome.

          Are you talking about how it is harder for poor white kids who need to get higher grades and test scores than “people of color” to get in to every college in America?

          We all know that there are a small number of people of (all races) that have a huge leg up due to extreme wealth or connections, but most people in America (of all races) don’t have rich parents with connections that help them succeed, they need to do it on their own…

      2. South of Davis

        Frankly wrote:

        >The wealthy pay most of the taxes so that the bottom 50% pay little to no taxes.

        He should have wrote: “The wealthy pay most of the INCOME taxes and the bottom 50% pay little to no INCOME taxes.”

        The poor (and wealthy) pay plenty of other taxes (like the new higher Davis sales tax, the NY State $4.35/pack cigarette tax and the NYC $1.50 cigarette tax and lots more other “taxes”)…

        P.S. The median income in the US is around $35K so everyone in the top 50% that pay most of the income taxes is hardly “wealthy”…

        1. Frankly

          Agree.  I meant income tax.

          But many of those other taxes are offset with cash back from things like SNAP, Obamacare, the earned income tax credit, other means-tested tax credits, and tuition assistance, etc.

        2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          The poor (and wealthy) pay plenty of other taxes (like the new higher Davis sales tax, the NY State $4.35/pack cigarette tax and the NYC $1.50 cigarette tax and lots more other “taxes”)…

          Off topic … but related to the sad case of Eric Garner’s death in New York: You know your cigarette tax is too high when you have incentivized poor people to trade in “illegal” (meaning untaxed) cigarettes. … Going slightly further off-topic, I believe there is blame to be had upon many for his death*, but one group no one will be protesting, that shares some blame, are the elected officials in New York who put in place that horribly high tax which created the black market trade in tobacco.

          *The more direct factor of blame in Garner’s death in my opinion are: 1) his uncooperative reaction to the attempt to arrest him, 2) his horrible state of health, 3) the cops on the scene for using unnecessary violent force, and 4) race/racism, as cops (perhaps logically) view all black males as a threat, no matter if an individual is a threat or not.

        3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          A friend of mine, who is somewhat of a libertarian, though not someone who talks much politics most of the time, says our government is incredibly inefficient and even incompetent in many tasks. But one it is always very good at is getting its money. In the Garner/illegal cigarettes case, the cops were doing the thing government does best: making sure that tax money goes into the government’s pockets. Illegally park your car on your lawn, in violation of code, the government will (at most) send a letter saying, “please don’t do that.” Park on the street 15 minutes too long, law enforcement will immediately take action, because it means money to them. Sell pot (which is untaxed in all but two states) and the government doesn’t do much; sell untaxed cigarettes, and four cops will wrestle you to the ground and (in this case) kill you, because their money is at stake.

      3. wdf1

        Frankly: Note that this isn’t South Africa before or after Apartheid.

        If being white is such a privilege today, then how do you explain every non-white that has achieved stunning success, including our black President?

        Is a child born with the higher IQ privileged?   What about the child born tall and handsome with abundant self confidence?

        How about having your 3- and 4-year old kid regularly suspended from pre-school, for no other apparent explanation other than they’re black?

        This is my definition of crappy education and also of white privilege.  This is the premise for the concept of the “school to prison pipeline.”

        See Is This Working?

        or transcript

        In March this year, the Department of Education issued a report that said black children make up 18% of preschoolers, but they make up 48% of preschool children suspended more than once.

        1. Frankly

          wdf1 – this is interesting.  So are these preschool employees racist?  Did you only use the preschool data and not the full public school data so you could make the case that more preschools are private?

          I agree that this is a problem, but is it more complicated than just a claim of racism?  Might it have something to do with the behavior of children lacking a father to help raise them?

          And you and I should agree that this should not matter.  Being an educator means you have to educate the kids that are put under your care.  And unless the behavior is materially detrimental to the other kids getting care and education, you have to figure out how to make it work for all the kids.  And so then we are back to our crappy public schools not working for but a smaller and smaller percentage of kids and the education establishment blaming crappy parenting.

          Is blaming crappy parenting a sign of racism?

           

           

        2. Barack Palin

          My wife is a preschool teacher at a private school in Davis.  They never suspend any kids and if they have the parents come in early because their unruly child needs to go home believe me they don’t keep race records on it.

        3. Davis Progressive

          two different issues.  first, suspending kids is probably going to go the way of corporal punishment – it’s ineffective as a deterrent and has the opposite effect that you want.

          second, i believe that the schools probably started tracking racial statistics in response to complaints about differential discipline if not an outright lawsuit.  If the private school doesn’t track such things – then maybe it hasn’t been an issue there.

        4. wdf1

          Frankly: So are these preschool employees racist?

          Based on my experience, I think these employees wouldn’t imagine themselves to be racist, that they are genuinely civil to others of different race or ethnicity, that they’d probably blush if they uttered the N-word.

          But this is where I think ongoing professional development and training are important, so as to raise and discuss issues like this.

          Frankly:  Did you only use the preschool data and not the full public school data so you could make the case that more preschools are private?

          I used only preschool data to highlight how early the situation starts, and also because preschool is generally a choice educational market.  Even a choice educational market isn’t getting this right.

          Frankly:  Might it have something to do with the behavior of children lacking a father to help raise them?

          If you listen to the podcast or read the transcript, you would learn that Tunnette Powell, the first person narrator of this situation, is married to the father of her kids, and also that her husband is in the military.  The full detail of their family situation isn’t discussed in the piece, but superficially, I think it’s hard to argue that the father (or lack thereof) is a factor.

          But even if somehow you successfully made the case that Ms. Powell is really lying to push a personal agenda, there are the statistics to contend with.  Although putting your kids in preschool is not necessarily a definitive indicator of ideal parenting, to me it is certainly a sign that the parents are trying hard to do right by their kids.  You would be filtering to yield a higher percentage of “better parents.”

  8. Dave Hart

    Frankly and Barack Palin’s posts above seem to match Jeff Boone’s description of classic Victim Mentality, to wit:

    “Failing or being unwilling to take responsibility for one’s own actions or actions to which one has contributed; instead, blaming others for a situation that one has created oneself or significantly contributed to.”
    “The idea that if things are the way they are, and especially if things are bad, they probably will not change; or if people are the way they are, they probably will not change (a belief in “nature” rather than “nurture”). This belief reduces motivation to engage in processes that could lead to a solution.”
    “Gaining short-term pleasure from feeling sorry for oneself or eliciting pity from others; eliciting sympathy by exaggerating the bad things other people have done to the “victim” and forgetting the good things; developing convincing and sophisticated arguments in support of such ideas and using them to convince oneself and others of victim status.”

     
    Parncutt lists some patterns of talking and behavior that identity VM:
     

    “Complaining about situations which one has caused or to which one has contributed, while pretending not to be aware of this connection.”

    I can’t speak to their “gaining short-term pleasure” from feeling sorry for themselves, but they sure do seem to be good at pretending that they are not the beneficiaries of white privilege and certainly seem to love to downplay all of the historical realities of racism and its pernicious affect on every aspect of society.  In their minds, the folks in Ferguson just need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and get a job and quit whining and blaming their problems on white racist cops.

    None of us are free of our history regardless of what you know or don’t know about it.

    1. Barack Palin

      Frankly and Barack Palin’s posts above seem to match Jeff Boone’s description of classic Victim Mentality

      What are you talking about???????????????????

    2. Biddlin

      ” but they sure do seem to be good at pretending that they are not the beneficiaries of white privilege and certainly seem to love to downplay all of the historical realities of racism and its pernicious affect on every aspect of society.”

      LOL, Dave, I’m spewing Arf n Arf out me nose! And thanks.

      ;>)/

    3. South of Davis

      Dave wrote:

      > but they sure do seem to be good at pretending that

      > they are not the beneficiaries of white privilege 

      I don’t know Frankly or BP maybe they have white privilege (and a well connected father used political favors to get them in to college and set them up with trust funds so they don’t need to work), but most white people don’t get any special favors for being white.

      >  In their minds, the folks in Ferguson just need to stop feeling

      > sorry for themselves and get a job and quit whining and blaming

      > their problems on white racist cops.

      True just like all the poor white “trailer trash” who sit around in double wides waiting for their next welfare check (most people on welfare in America are white) wondering why if there is so much “white privileged” in America why the cops come in to the park daily to hassle and often beat people…

    4. Frankly

      Dave – you are a hoot.  Thanks for the chuckle.

      Just FYI… grew up in a single-wide during my early childhood.  Single mother from age 10 as my father developed mental health problems.  He lives homeless in Hawaii (he is crazy, but apparently not stupid).  Worked from the time I was 8.  Worked my way though college.  B student in high school… not blessed with academic gifts, but had the work ethic.  No money from any family member.  There were so many stops along the way for me to claim “I am a victim” and get lost in alcohol and drugs.

      You need to go back and read more about what Jeff Boone wrote about VM.  You don’t quite have it right.  It comes down to the essence of the roadblocks toward improvement… are they primarily internal and in your mind, or are they really external and materially preventing actions toward improvement?   The former is VM.  The latter is not.

      However Parncutt does include Tea Partiers and other people that complain about taxation as having some VM.   While I agree that some people do take that taxed-victim stance, there is a difference in that they are powerless to do anything about it.  Try to pay less taxes than the government claims you owe and see what happens.  That is primarily an external, material force preventing actions toward improvement.

      But if you are low income or minority or just someone that likes to wrap themselves up in a worldview of a bipolar victim-versus-privileged… but none of it really materially prevents you as a person from doing something about to make a better… that is the essence of VM.

      You really cannot change others, you can only change yourself.

       

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Let’s focus on the here and now.”

    OK, let’s. You frequently claim that all have equal opportunity in this country. So free of consideration of race or gender or cultural background, let me ask you a few “here and now” based questions.

    1. Does the child who gets up and goes to bed hungry have the same opportunity to learn and thrive as the child who is well fed ?

    2. How about the child who is abused or neglected ?

    3. Does the child who grows up with no books, or literate adults, in their household have the same opportunity as the child who is read to every night ?

    4. Does the child whose health care needs are met by ER visits have the same opportunity as the child who has regular preventive care provided by the same pediatrician over time ?

    5. Does a baby born to a crack using mom have the same opportunity as that of a child born to a mom who follows all the evidence based optimal care prenatal practices ?

    5. Do the adults who have been raised under these adverse circumstances have the same opportunities as those who have had only optimal circumstances in their lives ?

    Remember, we are discussing the “here and now”, not who was to blame for what in the past. Unless of course you are willing to cede Dave Hart’s point”

    None of us are free of our history regardless of what you know or don’t know about it.”

    For me the bigger question is not who to blame, or at what point in time did the disparate nature of the opportunity occur, but rather what can we do as individuals, as communities, and as a society to help those who are in need to make the most of the disparate opportunities with which they are faced in the “here and now”.  You seem to feel that a “change in mentality” of those on the lower end of the economic scale is all that is needed. I feel, based on personal and professional experience, that help from those that have had better opportunities is often needed to get oneself started on a more positive trajectory. I got my start with a government sponsored program offering jobs to disadvantaged youth at the Long Beach Naval Ship Yard. I got help from UCD in the form of a scholarship and help from the National Health Service. The pay off was huge for me personally and for my contribution to the society in terms of taxes and non monetary voluntary contribution.

    I strongly contest the notion that all I needed, or all anyone in the “here and now” needs is a change in their mental attitude from some notion of a “victim mentality”.

    1. Frankly

      Tia – you are confusing real victims with people having a victim mentality.  Some people with VM have been real victims.  But they often cannot move forward until they get over it and realize that they are no longer being victimized except by their own mind and their own emotions.

      And you list things that are not race-specific.

      I have a good friend that used to scream that the “abuse needs to stop”.   When he was a teenager, his step dad used to slam him against the wall and punch him in the face.  But he was in his late 30s and his step dad was long gone by then.  he had a trail of broken relationships, failed marriages, damaged careers…   Eventually counseling helped him get over his VM.  He is happy and married and loves his job and life now.

      People that keep pointing backwards as an excuse for their or others’ unhappy present predicament are indicating that they have some unresolved issues to deal with.  Abuse of the past has nothing to do with the present unless you allow it to.

      Yes, a change in mentality is the key.  We need to stop the enabling of VM.  It is not helping anyone except that it eliminates the stress from having to strive for a better life.  But accepting and dealing with that stress is a necessity.   VM is like a feel-good drug that destroys potential and opportunity.  Bleeding hearts have good intentions, but their message is destructive to the very people they often claim to be helping.

      1. Anon

        In short, I would say VM gives someone the excuse not to move forward with their lives in a constructive way, but to instead wallow in past misery to their detriment.

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