Why People Feel Like Victims - Issue 99: Universality - Nautilus - Deepstash
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The Tendency toward Interpersonal Victimhood trait

Researchers identified a negative personality trait named TIV - Tendency toward Interpersonal Victimhood.

People who score high on a TIV test have a lasting feeling that they are victims in different kinds of interpersonal relationships.


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The four pillars of TIV

  1. A constant need for one's victimhood to be acknowledged by the offender and society at large.
  2. The belief that the victim has perfect morality while the other party is inherently immoral.
  3. The lack of empathy, especially the inability to see another perspective, makes the victim entitled to a selfish response.
  4. Rumination. The tendency to focus on the details of an attack on self-esteem.


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Victimhood is a learned behavior

Typically, a child will learn not to need others to soothe themselves, but people with high TIV can't soothe themselves. That is why they often dwell on perceived offences over an extended period.

People who score high on TIV don't need to have been victimized or physically abused to show TIV, but they often have experienced some trauma, like PTSD, that they didn't fully recover from.


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TIV can affect interpersonal relationships

People with a high degree of TIV find it difficult to realise that they can hurt other people. They see themselves as the ultimate victim and never as the aggressor. They are unwilling to forgive and have a high motivation for revenge.

TIV is debilitating for those with moderate TIV. The more they feel like the victim, the more they extend those feelings to all other interpersonal relationships.


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Victimhood is a matter of socialisation

Not all countries have a tendency for victimhood. For example, Nepali people never show any anger and don't blame each other. They think it is childish to show anger.

In certain societies, people learn that it's OK to be aggressive and blame others and not to take responsibility for hurting others.


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Overcoming victimhood

  • It starts with the way we educate our children. Young children that receive uncertain or inconsistent care are more prone to develop TIV.
  • If people are conscious of the four aspects of victimhood, they can better understand their intentions and reduce these tendencies.


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