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Victimhood: What is Victim Mentality Behavior?

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Life is tough, and oftentimes, it throws situations at you that you have no control over. It is not an uncommon thing to be a victim of circumstances. But, it is when victimhood seems to be the only position a person holds that points toward a psychological problem called victim mentality.

Even when faced with impossible issues, most people believe that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. They believe that things will get better with time and whatever has happened is only temporary.

But an individual who suffers from a victim mentality tends to think that the whole world is out to get them. They are convinced that nothing good can happen to them because it never has, and it’s almost like the entire universe is conspiring against them.


Defining Victim Syndrome

Victim syndrome is another term used for victim mentality along with victim complex. Although serious, this is not a condition that can be clinically diagnosed. Nevertheless, it can bring a person’s morale down and be quite debilitating to them.

An individual who always takes the stand of the victim and is convinced that they had no fault in anything that may have happened to them is said to have a victim complex. Alternately, this ‘fault’ is always put onto a spouse, partner, parents, friends, colleagues, etc.

These individuals want acknowledgement for their suffering and feel that nothing is in their control. This condition may root in past trauma that was suppressed and not given space to be dealt with properly. It may also be an acquired personality trait from family members, sexual abuse trauma, or the result of certain coping mechanisms.

Thus, individuals believe that nothing good can come of the circumstances and choose to take a victim’s position and seeth in negativity rather than take a stand for themselves. It not only affects the mental health of the individuals concerned but also affects those around them.


Is Victim Complex The Same As Martyr Complex

The two can often be confused, but they are not the same. Individuals who have martyr complex sacrifice themselves and go out of their way to get things done for others and feel resentful afterward.

A victim mentality, on the other hand, takes everything personally and absorbs comments that weren’t even directed at them. They generally shrink from taking up any sort of responsibility and thus will not do anything for others.


What Causes Victim Syndrome

Victim mentality or syndrome does not crop out of nowhere. It is often rooted in past trauma or other issues that severely impact the mindset of an individual. Following are a few known causes of the same.


Past Trauma

Trauma is something that can only be best defined by those who have felt it. It can be different for each individual and have various outcomes. But one thing that trauma leaves behind is a mental scar.

Individuals may develop a victim mentality as a coping mechanism against trauma that left them feeling powerless or trapped.



Being betrayed by someone you placed your trust upon can not only be heartbreaking but also impact your mental well-being. If betrayal is something that repeatedly happens to an individual, they will develop victim syndrome and refrain from placing their trust in anyone in the future.


Past Abuse 

This is quite common among individuals who have undergone abuse of any kind. Abuse often leaves an individual feeling powerless and strips away an sort of agency that they may have had. The extreme sense of helplessness, shame, and being defiled may lead to a victim complex.



Children who do not receive proper care and love during their formative years often use a victim mentality to cope with the fact that no one cares for them. It may begin as an act of getting attention and may be carried on throughout their life to gain the affection and sympathy of others.


Learned Behavior

Children often imitate what they see around them. This means that growing up with parents or guardians who constantly act as victims may cause them to develop a victim mentality and believe that everything is hard for them. This is also called learned helplessness.


Signs to Check for A Victim Mindset

How do you know if you or someone you know may be suffering from this condition? Answer the questions given below and add a score of 1 every time your answer is yes.

Do you

  1. Believe that the entire universe is against you?
  2. End up blaming someone else for how your life is?
  3. Feel stuck in your life?
  4. Approach things with a negative attitude?
  5. Feel like someone is attacking you when they offer negative feedback?
  6. Feel powerless in coping with the problems in your life?
  7. Attract a company that blames others or constantly complains about their life?
  8. Feel better or a sense of relief when you feel bad for yourself, or others give you sympathy?
  9. Refuse to look for solutions and reject help?
  10. Self sabotage yourself or talk yourself down?
  11. Are you constantly angry, frustrated, and resentful?
  12. Can you critically evaluate yourself and actively make changes in your life?

If your score is anywhere between 6 and 12, you suffer from a victim’s complex. It is nothing to be ashamed of and can be dealt with.


Don’t Want to Be a Victim Anymore?

Now we are not saying that you should never feel sorry for yourself or seek out sympathy every once in a while. Doing those things are perfectly normal ways of getting through life.

But when being a victim becomes your entire personality, it is problematic not only for you but for those around you as well. Understanding that you have a problem is always the first step towards healing.

To overcome victim mentality, you should

  • Prioritize yourself and learn to say no to things you do not want to be a part of.
  • Set firm boundaries and get over the fear of blame.
  • Begin taking personal responsibility for yourself, your actions, and others.
  • Do not think of yourself as a suffering individual. Do not look at victim mentality in a connotative sense.
  • Show compassion to yourself as that is the best way to get over past trauma.
  • Make a list of actions that can lead to self-improvement.
  • Change your narrative and be the author of your own story.
  • Educate yourself about the condition.
  • Seek out professional help.


To Conclude

With problems that affect one’s mental wellbeing, the key is to treat the issue with kindness. Having a victim mentality mindset is not a permanent condition and can be treated with support and compassion.

Taking charge of your own life, eliminating negative thinking, victim role, and self-pity can go a long way. Accept responsibility for your actions, practice self-confidence and self-compassion, and do not feel guilty for having such a mindset.

If you or someone you know suffers from this condition, we hope this article helped you come to terms with and identify the situation. However, if the condition seems to be affecting your wellbeing in an uncontrollable manner, do seek out professional help.

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