- "The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy."
- —H.L. Mencken
Victim mentality is a learned personality trait in which a person tends to regard themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave like it were the case—even in the absence of clear evidence. For example, the belief that a man making eye contact with a woman is judging them for their appearance and plotting how best to rape them, or that airplane seats are deliberately made too narrow in order to shame someone who is fat are examples of this pattern of thinking. It is a common trait of lolcows.
Characteristics of victim mentality
A person who exhibits victim mentality typically undergoes the following train of thought:
- They have suffered harm.
- They were not responsible for the harm suffered.
- They were harmed due to some quality they possessed (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, etc.)
- The harm is therefore both unjust and undeserved.
- They deserve sympathy.
The desire to obtain sympathy is crucial, and the defining feature. A victim must always bring their grievances to a third party to be resolved for them, often under the guise of "justice." While the victim may desire compensation or retribution against their offender, it is the attention that most feeds their ego.
People who suffer from victim mentality often exhibit any or all the following behaviors:
- Attributes most or all of their failures to events beyond their control.
- Believes that the world, or a large group of people, are actively working to shame or harm them.
- Refuses to take responsibility for one's own actions and anything bad that may have come of them.
- Blames others for situations that they have created themselves.
- Assigns non-existent negative intentions to other people (similar to paranoia) and reads non-existent negative intentions into neutral situations.
- Exhibits learned helplessness.
- Gains short-term pleasure from feeling sorry for themselves or eliciting pity from others.
- Elicits sympathy by telling exaggerated stories about bad deeds of other people.
- Acts self-absorbed in their own worldview, and takes criticism as a personal attack.
The mindset of victim mentality is summarized by the following three tenets:
A victim is never to blame for their harm suffered. Few things are as gauche to a liberal mindset as the suggestion that a victim is somehow responsible if they come to harm. If you walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town, wearing expensive clothing and jewelry and counting a large wad of money, and you get mugged, the mugger is 100% responsible and you are 0% responsible. To even think otherwise invites accusations of “victim blaming”, a cardinal sin in social justice circles. The victim is never under any obligation to prevent harm coming to them. They are always the innocent party.
A victim’s harm suffered is not only unjust, but undeserved and immoral. The harm that a victim suffers is due to some quality they possess, and the victimizer’s desire to harm them for only that quality. Gender is a common accusation, as is race, sexuality or appearance. Almost any defining characteristic can be the cause of their undeserved harm. It then follows that since the victimizer is motivated by a desire to harm the victim because of this quality, their actions are therefore driven by deliberate malevolence. When someone is rude to you, it's not because they're having a bad day or just rude to everyone, they a rude to you because you are black/female/fat/etc. This also allows you to use words like racism and misogyny as linguistic airhorns, which draw more attention to your victimization. After all, everyone agrees that racism is bad, so if you claim to be suffering from racism, you start off with the moral high ground. Microaggressions are an excellent example of this kind of thinking. The very term “microaggression” is a rhetorical trick used to turns moments of unintentional rudeness into acts of calculated, malicious violence.
A victim is entitled to compensation in the form of both sympathy from their peers and retribution against the enemy. For example, a child might cry to their parents when they are harmed in order to gain attention and pity, as well as having them punish their victimizer. The victim merely seeks redress against their grievance. They are seeking justice to balance the proverbial scales due to the unjust harm committed against themselves. This is the most defining characteristic of someone with victim mentality; seeking pity and validation from third parties rather than trying to resolve their problems by themselves. After all, if their problems were solved, they wouldn't be getting any more attention. The need for sympathy can also be used as leverage for emotional blackmail. Insufficient deference to a victim can be used as evidence to suggest that you don't care enough about them or their cause.
This is not to suggest that all people who adopt the above stances are wrong. Acts of injustice across many axes can and do happen with alarming frequency, and these events generally go unpunished. It is only when someone becomes so deeply enamored with the victim mindset that it causes trouble. In particular, the most significant tipping points are the use of one’s victimhood to enhance their social standing, absolve themselves of personal responsibility, or shield themselves from the consequences of their actions.
Victim mentality in lolcows
For a lolcow with social anxiety, delusions of grandeur, and/or autism, victim mentality offers relief from many of their troubles by giving them an outside force to blame for their failures. The lolcow adopts the stance of a perpetual victim by claiming that the harm they suffer is constant and omnipresent, and the injustice of all of these slights is cumulative. Ordinary, everyday interactions become tinged with malice. This is not such a leap of logic for a socially stunted person with delusions of grandeur, as it allows them to emotionally reason that the world is deliberately hostile to them due to their identity. The emphasis placed on their personal and political victimhood is used to elicit sympathy from their online social group, who act as enablers in this regard. Likewise, the rhetoric of victimhood is used to create magic words that are used to make them win any and all arguments by default.
In more severe cases, perpetual victims will deliberately seek out opportunities to be victimized with the intent of drawing attention to their own noble suffering (i.e. martyrdom). This gives them another hit of the emotional high that comes from being a victim, as described above, while also feeding their paranoia and inner sense of worthlessness. An example of this is a fat woman cat fishing a man on Tinder by using a fake picture, then blaming him, all men, and society in general for fatshaming her upon being rejected.
Being a perpetual victim offers many perceived benefits to a lolcow. In the perpetual victim, the three tenets of victim mentality are taken to their logical extreme as follows:
The perpetual victim never bears responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Indeed, the perpetual victim often lacks agency altogether. After all, they shouldn’t have to do anything to not be harmed, and yet they are harmed constantly. The perpetual victim is therefore always helpless against harm, even if their actions instigated harm that befalls them. For example, if the perpetual victim antagonizes someone else and suffers retaliation for it, they are still blameless. The fault lies in everyone except themselves. This belief of a lack of personal agency, in both themselves and the identity group they represent, is a defining characteristic of a perpetual victim. This often leads to a type of learned helplessness, which leads to the victim's ability to deal with problems by themselves becoming impaired in the long run.
The perpetual victim is always pure and good; those who disagree with them, express skepticism, or criticize them are as evil as their victimizers. Since they are always the victim, anyone arguing against them must be therefore arguing for injustice. When you characterize yourself as X or pro-X, anyone who criticizes you must therefore be anti-X. The victimized identity is thus used as a shield against criticism by attacking the character of their detractors. Disagreeing whether or not something is racist makes you racist, and therefore evil, therefore any argument you make is worthless. Even suggesting that someone accused of rape is entitled to due process is met with accusations of being a misogynistic, tone-policing, rape culture-enabler.
The perpetual victim is entitled to unlimited sympathy and retribution. Because they are always harmed simply by existing, the perpetual victim is therefore deserving of unlimited, unquestioning pity (and Patreon money) from their peers. Victimhood becomes leverage for emotional blackmail in this way, and another way to effectively silence their critics. Likewise, they should also be permitted to retaliate against their oppressors, without question or limitation, since their status as victims excuses any action on their part, no matter how absurd or harmful. Those who do not accede to the victim’s demands are deserving of being tried and convicted in the court of public opinion on Twitter for the crime of enabling the victimizer. Using liberal guilt as a way to gain leverage is an example of this tactic. The end result is an angry mob that is convinced that they are morally justified in taking any and all action to strike back, even when such actions are vastly disproportionate to the perceived crime committed, or even parallel to the actions of the victimizers (e.g.: harassing a woman off of Twitter for alleged transphobia).
A corollary to this point is that victims can never be victimizers. Since any retributive action is always justified, it does not count as legitimate harm or victimization against the oppressor. The phrase, “you can't be racist to white people” exemplifies this logic. Whomever is higher on the progressive stack always has the moral high ground, regardless of their actions. Victimhood acts as a type of social capital that can be used to purchase such indulgences, which creates incentive to not only seek out victimhood, but to hold onto grievances forever.
In summary, a perpetual victim:
- Claims they suffer from constant, omnipresent, malicious harm due to their identity.
- Always blames some outside force for their misery, even when said misery is obviously self-inflicted.
- Is always morally in the right, and their critics always morally wrong.
- Is always morally justified in any actions they take, and therefore cannot be held responsible for the consequences of said actions.
Victim mentality is a cornerstone of social justice identity politics. If the lolcow is X, then any harm that comes to them is because they are X, and therefore is an injustice to all X everywhere. Similarly, any harm suffered by any X anywhere is a harm to the lolcow, personally. The phrase “the personal is political” is deeply embedded in feminist theory. To the perpetual victim, everything personal is political. This enables victimhood-by-association; if the outrage is on behalf of someone else, they can even be considered selfless; thereby garnering even more sympathy, attention, and praise.
Victimhood is also commonly used to absolve oneself of responsibility for their actions, since as outlined above, a victim is never to blame for their harm suffered. Fat acceptance groups are prime examples of this line of thinking, as they violently reject any claim that weight loss is possible. If this were not true, then their suffering would be their own fault. Therefore, weight must be innate and unchanging, therefore fat people are victims of thin privilege.
The faulty logic of victim mentality is a combination of fundamental attribution bias and a lack of theory of mind, which are both hallmark traits of people with autism. It assumes that other people act with malice because the victim interprets such actions as malicious. The lack of theory of mind prevents lolcows from considering that other people may have different perspectives, values, or motivations for their actions. For example, a lolcow believes that Politician X wants to genocide all transgender people. Therefore, the only reason that anyone else would ever support Politican X is because they too support the genocide of transgender people, so a vote for Politician X is a calculated, malevolent act against transgender people.
Online social justice and victim mentality offer a retreat from a world that often feels hostile, instead placing the blame upon an external force. It gives respite from blaming the self for their unhappiness and assigns it to another group, often whites and men. The rhetoric of social justice makes for a convenient shield against criticism by wrapping the perpetual victim in fake morality. It further offers a social support group to apply peer pressure to stay in this state of perpetual victimhood. All of these are used to create an online narcissistic false self that conceals the victim’s negative self-belief that they are damaged, helpless, and destined for failure—while simultaneously feeding this root belief. The perpetual victim therefore receives a tremendous psychological benefit by remaining in this state; absolution from their own tortured self-esteem despite the core issue going ignored. To be clear, the perpetual victim has no interest in solving their problems; such an effort actually opposes their beliefs. Instead, their goal is obtaining more narcissistic supply, even if it comes at the expense of their comrades.
Social justice epitomizes victim behavior by exalting those who are—or claim to have been—victimized. Since being a victim increases their social status, the perpetual victim will always emphasize their suffering, even manufacturing victimization where none exists. This type of culture rewards people for taking on a personal identity as a perpetual victim with both attention and influence within the group, which in turn feeds the belief that they are damaged, weak, and under constant threat of harm; a surefire recipe for long-term misery and failure. Every interaction in normal day-to-day life suddenly carries the potential for trauma and violence, which in turn reinforces the underlying social anxiety. When you look at the world through rape-colored lenses, don’t be surprised if you start seeing every man as a potential rapist.
Some may see victimhood, or victimhood-by-association, as a quick way to gain power, and as such create as much imaginary victimization for themselves as possible. These people are particularly aggressive in using their victim status to apply fear, obligation, or guilt in others to demand their submission or obedience. When challenged, they swiftly put out a cry for help to their white knights, who are only too happy to assist in harassing the critic into silence, such as calling down a Twitter mob to dox or send death threats to the critic on their behalf. In this way, they use their victimhood as a sword to preserve their own power, while still having their illusion of victimhood to retreat behind. This strategy is more commonly known as crybullying; the use of intimidation, harassment, or other abusive behavior while claiming to be a victim. It must be stressed that a crybully is not a true victim, they merely act like one to justify their actions and gain influence.
For the above reasons, many lolcows create new, more victimized identities for themselves, with transgender being a common choice. The creation of the victimized identity allows them to backwards reason their way into victimhood; the reason they are unhappy failures at live is because they are trans, they just didn't realize it until now. Alternatively, they may invent an oppressive force for themselves, as incels do. This logic absolves them of blame for their failures and gives them the moral high ground to lash out at their detractors. Becoming a perpetual victim is much easier than admitting your own faults.
Recovery from victim mentality is difficult, but possible. Victims tend to think of themselves as helpless to affect change in their lives, and their ability to solve interpersonal problems is often compromised. Lolcows also have an internet hugbox to enable them, which gives a social reinforcement to remain perpetual victims. The social incentives to remain in a state of perpetual victimhood are therefore very high. Breaking out requires turning their backs on their online friends, as well as confronting some very difficult things about themselves and their outlook on the world. Prognosis is therefore poor unless some event happens to make them realize that they are responsible for their own actions, and they have the ability to change their lives.