So, what’s Your Payoff?
Famous T.V. host and clinical psychologist, Dr. Phil McGraw, repeatedly poses the question, what’s the payoff? to guests stuck in destructive behavioral patterns and self-defeating attitudes to get them to consider why they act and think the way they do.
While the “payoff” question is important, the answer reveals everything.
People act and think in certain ways because they derive some psychological and/or material reward from it, otherwise there would be no incentive to keep it up.
For them to ditch the bad attitudes they have to be prepared to lose the advantages that go along with it, or the payoff, so it’s a no-no in most cases with the cost of change too high as they stand to lose much more than they gain.
Only when the reverse applies, when negative behaviors become too costly to maintain short to medium term, is change seen as an alternative, which is the destination Dr. Phil’s guests have arrived at.
Now, everyone is a victim of someone, something or another, without an end in sight anytime soon.
Victim-hood is political
A victim complex pervades the culture of the times with individuals or groups believing other people or circumstances are to blame for whatever reason, real and imagined, they decide.
A lack of accountability with a whole bunch of excuses is the norm, an attitude that can only go so far, then it should advance to where do I (we) go from here, but too many never get to this place instead they prefer to revel in their victim status.
However, besides victims needing validation they also have the constant need to justify their behavior, basically, just another payoff in a long list of many.
One source describes victimhood as a state where experienced or perceived harm and its long-standing consequences ‘become integral elements in the victim’s personality’.
Some scholars emphasize the elements in victims’ psychology that emerge such as; feelings of helplessness, self-pity, self-inefficacy, low self-esteem, hopelessness, guilt, loss of trust, meaning and privacy, an absent sense of accountability, and a tendency to resort to blame.
It’s worth noting victimization is not an objective occurrence, but is based on a subjective experience, so some people define themselves as ‘victims’ in circumstances that many others would regard as part of their everyday life.
There’s no doubt politics has empowered and emboldened victimhood with it now hugely expedient not forgetting the critical largesse factor is the gift that keeps on giving.
The personal is political and the political is personal
Cultural critic, Frenchman de Tocqueville, observed Americans forever brood over advantages they don’t possess, manage to turn trivial grievances into oppressions and harmful personal habits into disabilities.
With officially sanctioned victimhood the norm, it comes as no surprise people buy into it on both a personal and political level.
It goes a lot deeper; there is a sense of self-perceived collective victimhood in all historical conflicts that’s an essential part of the group memory.
People identify with historical accounts solely based on their current socio-political leanings, using the same means to identify their political foes and constantly beat them over the head.
The idea is to portray their opponents as immoral and treacherous to de-legitimize them at the same time justifying their own biases and the ‘rightness’ of their side’s cause.
One example of a bipartisan, violent conflict is the American Civil War but the principle of self-perceived collective victimhood applies across the board in many less dramatic circumstances.
Groups suffer from collective victimization on the same basis individuals do, not necessarily on objective experience but on social construction.
Individuals, defining themselves as group members, acquire their beliefs through the process of depersonalization as part of their formation of social identity. They subsequently continue to adopt various beliefs, attitudes and emotions peculiar to their group.
Obviously, this group type of victimhood at the highest levels can fan the flames of national polarization and conflict as it feeds into the dominant, media narrative.