Episode 62 – The Psychology of the Victim

Jun 5, 2019


We can experience powerful feelings of empathy for those who are victims of trauma in all its heartbreaking dimensions. It is difficult even to consider a shadow side to this already dark aspect of human experience. Nevertheless, it is important also to consider the difference between lived experiences of victimization and meaning-making narratives that not only can become calcified, but self-reinforcing. If entrenched, narratives of victimization can become part of one’s identity and suppress life energy. Lisa, Deb, and Joseph differentiate the emotions involved in suffering, mourning, and acceptance from more reified states of powerlessness. They describe how the presence of a wisely witnessing other can help with healing, empowerment, and finding the path ahead to a more liberated sense of self.

Here’s the dream we discuss

“I am being held in a prison against my will and I am sharing a cell with a male colleague from work. The cell is very cold and silent. The whole place feels very sterile. When I look out of the window, I realize we are imprisoned on the moon. My male colleague is talking to me with an intensity in his expression. He is demanding a lot of my attention and he says he wants me and needs me and that he has been having dreams about me- but I am trying to focus on getting out of the cell. He says it’s too late, and we are going to be executed in the most cosmic way- by being ejected into a black hole together.”


Eye Movement Desensitization Movement (EMDR)

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  1. Nilza


  2. Derek

    Recognizing that I am more than only a victim is different from erasing or ameliorating my victimhood. Everyone is at times a victim, more or less significantly. I find that you, in this episode, seem to sometimes be impatient with others to renounce their victimhood or “get over it,” as perhaps you have done in order to not run the risk of being a perpetual victim. My claim is that one can be more than a victim without giving up the truth that one has been a victim and one will be again. The polyvagal folks say “safety is the therapy” and I like to believe that each of us will stop wallowing in our traumas once we feel ready and none of us need a kick in the butt to force us to move on before we are ready. It’s not about giving up being a victim, it’s about being a victim and more.


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