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Victim Syndrome

Medical expert of the article

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.06.2018

The inherent tendency of a person to consider himself a victim of negative circumstances and actions of other people and act accordingly - even in the absence of real circumstances or obvious guilt of people - is usually defined as a victim syndrome.

This is one of the varieties of personality disorders, and with a significant degree of its behavioral manifestation may even be a form of deviation from the accepted norm.

The victim's syndrome (or mentality of the victim) psychologists attribute to a socially neutral type of self-destructive behavior, in which the owner of the complex needs some external cause of his failures.

Causes of the victim syndrome

It is universally recognized that no one is born with such a violation: the causes of the victim's syndrome and the origins of his development should be sought in childhood and adolescence, in the features of becoming and socializing the personality - under the influence of family members and various events and situations. The types of this disorder depend on the features of dispositional (personal) characteristics of a person, the degree of development of his self-awareness, the usual cognitive (cognitive) processes that manifest themselves in behavior and attribution - an individual subconsciously-intuitive explanation of the causes of behavior of others.

In an attempt to explain the true motives for the behavior and actions of others, it is difficult to remain impartial (especially at the time of emotional arousal or stress), which often leads to erroneous conclusions. According to psychologists, the representations of a person with a victim's syndrome, fixed by negative experience, are distorted by his needs (that is, they have deeply hidden selfish motive) and some cognitive prejudices. For example, a typical attribution error: if a person gets promoted, then this is recognition of his abilities and competence; when the increase did not take place, it is because the leadership does not like it ...

Or here is an example: a child is constantly reproached for the slightest mistake and makes comments on any occasion, but when there is reason to praise, the adults are silent. As a result, the child does not feel guilty for the actions he performs, but perceives the remarks as a derogation of his personality, which reduces his self-esteem. Therefore, the risk factors for the development of the victim syndrome are erroneous methods of raising children in the family, lack of trust and support, lack of attention and sense of security.

The researchers suggest that the clearly self-serving bias of attribution is closely related to the fact that people want to protect their self-esteem and avoid a sense of vulnerability. However, when the results correspond to the expectations of people, they explain them with personal achievements, and if they do not correspond, external (uncontrollable) factors are exposed as a cause. And this is nothing more than a subconscious need to avoid duties and responsibilities, that is, to refuse to control anything in your life and take active steps.

From the point of view of psychology, the causes of the victim's syndrome lie in the immaturity of the person (infantilism), the formation of an inadequate assessment of the cause-effect relationships of behavior and actions, causing distorted emotional reactions and self-esteem, with an unconditional desire to feel good about oneself from others.

Thus, the syndrome of a victim in psychology is a manifestation of emotional instability or an increased tendency to experience negative emotions with common neuroticism and various psychotic manifestations.

In addition, the propensity of the individual to blame for everything else and to present himself as a victim of circumstances and ill will can make the victim syndrome in relations with close people an instrument of manipulating them, which is a kind of moral reward for the constant "suffering". To illustrate this case, one can cite the behavior of "victim" mothers, who often blame children for underestimating their efforts and trying "to give children all the best."

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Symptoms of the victim syndrome

The syndrome assumes the presence of a whole complex of symptoms, and the symptoms of the victim's syndrome can manifest themselves in a fairly wide range of behavioral features, ways of thinking, and the nature of the statements ("why me?", "I did not deserve it", "everyone is unfair to me", " nobody appreciates me, "etc.). At the same time, the first signs (most often, hardly noticeable to outsiders) can manifest themselves in childhood and adolescence.

To explicit manifestations of this state in modern psychology include:

  • the accusation of others in their own failures and failures;
  • obsession with negative and attribution of non-existent negative intentions to other people (by analogy with paranoia);
  • egocentricity (a person is unable or unwilling to view the situation from the point of view of other people);
  • pathological conviction that other people are more fortunate and happy;
  • recognition by others;
  • frequent complaints (to anyone who is willing to listen) to everything, first of all, to the lack of recognition;
  • the desire to create self-pity and pleasure from self-pity or from others (and also from stories about shortcomings or failures of one of the acquaintances);
  • unwillingness to take responsibility for one's own actions and take any measures to improve the situation (hence the fear of making any decisions, expressing one's own opinions and feelings);
  • exaggeration of the value or probability of possible negative consequences;
  • non-repudiation (associated with the fear of facing disapproval of one's actions or words);
  • stubbornness and categorical rejection of any help;
  • Self-abasement with a simultaneous demand for love and respect.

In general, and such people can say: for them, a glass that is half full, will be considered half empty.

Negative consequences and complications in the victim syndrome can be physical, psychological or behavioral. Psychological feelings include vulnerability, anxiety and helplessness, as well as a change in outlook leading to phobias, uncontrolled panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, or a state of chronic depression (until suicidal thoughts arise).

And depression affects many areas of a person's life, including interpersonal relationships and physical health. In addition to the depressed mood, physical complications (psychosomatic symptoms) are manifested: changes in appetite and body weight, sleep problems, headaches, abdominal pain, more frequent colds (due to stressful changes in biochemical metabolism). Among the behavioral complications, there are causeless irritability, hysteria, lack of interest in most activities, and a decrease in concentration.

Victim of Violence Syndrome

There are such basic types of this syndrome as the syndrome of a victim of sexual violence, the syndrome of a victim of domestic violence in women, the syndrome of a victim in a child.

The syndrome of the victim of sexual violence - in terms of the degree of traumatic impact on the physical, behavioral and psychological level - Western psychotherapists are compared to post-traumatic stress disorder of combatants during the war. It is very important to note that the syndrome of a victim of sexual violence is not a mental disorder, but a natural reaction of a psychologically healthy person. Although very often develop a tendency to self-blame and self-flagellation, helplessness and nervousness, which leads to considerable difficulties in establishing and maintaining intimate relationships (including, fear of sex, sexual dysfunction, aggression towards the opposite sex, etc.), as well as to various forms of self-destructive behavior and suicide attempts.

Also, the syndrome of a victim of violence as a mentally altered condition is noted in women who are subjected to domestic physical violence by her husband. According to experts, this syndrome is a mental disorder, dangerous, in the first place, by what leads to psychological paralysis. Victims of family violence feel so helpless and so depressed that they do not see the opportunity to get out of an abusive situation (experiencing irrational fear).

Many women with a clear syndrome of the victim of violence, continue to hope that the offender will stop hurting them, and remain in the family. Moreover, if the offender tries to make amends and apologizes. Apologies (and other types of "compensation for damage") are accepted, and another cycle of violence begins. What does this lead to? To the fact that the victim of violence, in the end, begins to consider himself guilty.

The victim's syndrome in the child includes the syndrome of the victim of child bullying as a result of negative experience with peers, for example, in school (expressed in poor performance, difficulties with concentration, depression, anxiety, isolation). And also the syndrome of physical violence in childhood (physical punishment by parents), which leads to stuttering, hysteria and aggressive behavior, including in adulthood - in relation to their own children.

Narcissus Victim Syndrome

When a person suffers from a serious narcissistic personality disorder, this can create real problems for his loved ones and form the so-called narcissus victim syndrome.

According to statistics, up to 75% of people with narcissistic deviations are men. Therefore, most often syndrome victims of narcissus are experienced co-dependent women who are trying to build a personal relationship with a man who overestimates his own sense of importance and requires not just attention but admiration and worship. Although the victims may be employees, children or friends of daffodils.

Most victims have no idea how they got into this situation, because in the early stages of the relationship, the male narcissus can be the embodiment of virtue. But, in order to preserve their illusions and protect their perceived superiority, narcissistic personalities emotionally harass their unsuspecting victims. And the matter is complicated by the fact that hypertrophied narcissism is rarely detected as a medical diagnosis and often goes unnoticed at home and at work. Although in the family, such persons behave despotically, vilifying domestic people and forcing them to live according to the rules established by them.

The narcissus victim syndrome can manifest itself as a whole set of symptoms associated with physical, mental, emotional or spiritual violence. Thus, the victims of individuals with narcissistic disorder are characterized by self-blame, a sense of shame and humiliation; they have learned to take responsibility for the behavior of a narcissistic partner, because they blame themselves only on everything.

They remain with the person, thinking that they can change his behavior. Moreover, the narcissus victim syndrome is manifested in the fact that - even with a choice - a false idea of the nobility of suffering develops. And many can develop the Stockholm syndrome, when there is a desire to support and protect the offender, despite all the negative experiences.

Symptoms of narcissus victim syndrome, such as feelings of depression and confusion, feelings of shame and humiliation, extreme feelings of anxiety, panic attacks and phobias, low self-esteem, insomnia, eating disorders, and the feeling that they are going crazy may occur. At the same time, such people may seem "torn off" from their emotions, body or immediate environment (in psychology this condition is called derealization).

The obvious consequences and complications of the narcissus victim syndrome: the victims do not realize their potential either in their personal lives or in the professional sphere, because they should always stand in the shadow of a narcissistic individual, not realizing why. And narcissus will use any form of violence - without feelings of guilt, compassion and remorse - so that his needs are "served".

Treatment of the victim syndrome

Given the causes of the victim's syndrome, you need to contact a therapist. After a thorough confidential conversation with a specialist, the main psychoemotional cause is identified (this is the form of diagnosis of the victim's syndrome). Telling your story, a person helps himself to begin internal healing.

So the very first step to getting rid of the victim's syndrome is to recognize the existence of the problem. And since the syndrome is not congenital, experts say that getting rid of it is possible (although there is no medication for this syndrome).

Psychologists recommend starting with changing attitudes towards oneself and others, and also with developing a habit of not engaging in self-deception. You need to have the courage to live differently: learn to answer for your decisions, actions and emotions; not to look for the guilty; In assessing the behavior of others, be guided by logic, rather than momentary emotions.

It is very important to learn not only to respect, but also to love yourself, and everyone deserves it. Then there will be the forces to say "no" to everything that does not suit you, and do what gives positive, spiritual comfort and joy.

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