Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Victim role – politicians, bankers and corporate bosses

Many people adopt the victim role, albeit unintentionally, because they are afraid of their anger, deny its existence in themselves, project it onto other people, and anticipate aggression or harm from them. With this expectation and a high sensitivity to anger in others, they may even distort other people’s facial expressions, imagining that they have malicious intentions. The anger that they would have experienced in response to frustration or stress is transformed into fear and distrust of others and into feelings of being hurt or wounded. When people tie their feelings of frustration to the expectation that someone is obliged to satisfy them, victimised, paranoid feelings inevitably arise. Source:

I went through some serious issues in my life and consider myself as knowledgeable when it comes to playing the victim role. Although we usually refer to the word ‘playing’ it is quite different for the actor (either male or female) of the victim role as (s)he usually firmly believes in that role. Unlike some others I was determined escaping that role as my sulking in negativity became overwhelming.

Acceptance and forgiving are the key issues for migrating from victim to survivor. Acceptance that the suffering that you experienced happened for a reason beyond your control. And forgiving – rather than continue blaming – the other person for what that person did to you (at least in your view). This time consuming process is easier said than done. Relentless willpower is essential. As in Peter Gabriel’s magnificent song, featuring Kate Bush: Don’t Give Up.

The FT of 16 Feb 2015 featured a very interesting article on victim roles in politics: “Politicians, bankers and corporate bosses have joined the swelling ranks of the oppressed.” Below some excerpts.

“At the top of this tree stands Vladimir Putin. Some might see the Russian president’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine as a pretty straightforward act of aggression. Not a bit of it. Mr Putin and his chums in the Moscow kleptocracy are victims of a US-led conspiracy to humiliate and weaken Mother Russia. Seizing Ukrainian territory, while denying all involvement, is a perfectly understandable response to this injustice. Do not laugh. There are plenty of Europeans who insist Washington and its allies carry the burden of blame.” Source: FT, 16 Feb 2015

“The Russian leader is in plentiful company. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan has built himself a presidential palace that puts Versailles in the shade. But Mr Erdogan too is a victim. Even as he chips away at Turkey’s still-fragile democracy, the president is assailed by more conspiracies than you could count — the western media, foreign non-governmental organisations, the CIA, the Turkish military, the EU, the US government and the Gulenist religious sect are just a few of those determined to do him down. Who can blame him for the turn towards authoritarianism?”

In my view, both are using an intriguing combination of two powerful tools: creating fear in order to unite people against ‘foes’ while obtaining personal affection (rather than the usual pity) for their continued leadership in these troublesome times.

Individually, the victim role and fear management do not last for years. People get fed up by a person who continues playing the victim role. Some day they realise that also this coin has two sides. Fear management requires friendly media and preferably ‘foes’ that play along. Combined these two elements may however last much longer.

Nevertheless, I always paraphrase Abraham Lincoln who once said: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. 


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