IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: The Victim Orientation
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 10:16 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

First, A little time-binding...
"Victim orientation" appears most often in a number of google searchs as referring to the process of bringing the victim of crimes to the attention of the legal process, a process which previously focused on capturing and dealing with the perpetrator.

The etymology of "victim": a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite.

It would appear that "victim orientation" for this discussion is intended to mean something like a person not taking responsibility for his or her situation, that being an undesirable attitude, and that the gist of the post holds that consciousness of abstracting and "Identity"? allows one to overcome said personal failing.

This appears to focus on the organism almost to the exclusion of its environment, reflecting the "organism-as-a-whole" while neglecting the "organism-in-its-environment-as-a-whole".

A contrasting view:


Current counseling practice #1: Counselors concentrate on the personal and relational domains of wellness and tend to neglect the collective sphere.
Ethical dilemmas associated with practice #1: The emphasis on helping individuals and small groups sometimes undermines the importance of recognizing and addressing the societal factors that are often more responsible for personal problems than are personality dynamics and small group processes.
We live in a culture that localizes responsibility for success and failure on the individual. Counseling practice is not beyond or above this culture. Instead of recognizing people’s experiences as embedded in a context, people’s lives are told as if they were the sole creators of their destiny. When counseling practice reinforces this ideology of self-blame or self-credit, a surreptitious blame the victim orientation subtly engulfs the counseling enterprise.
Blaming the victim is a common societal practice of seeing the victims of insidious political, economic, and social processes as having caused their own problems. Source Counseling for Wellness and Justice

Under the hypothesis of multiple causality, we should not assume that a person is "in control" of their circumstances; a person, does, however, need to evaluate his or her own reaction to circumstances, and avoid developing "mental problems" on top of unfortunate circumstances. One may be able to exercise some control over one's own reaction to circumstances that are not under one's control.

It helps to know that our symbolic and semantic environments include a general "blame the victim" orientation based on the inappropriately applied belief that we control our destiny, and that if unfortunate circumstances befall us, it is our own fault. We do not have to buy into this view. Some of the things that happen to us are unforseen and not under our control.

As Jean-Luc Picard said in Peak Performance, "Sometimes it's possible to do everything right and still lose. That is not a malfunction, Data. That is life."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 11, 2006 - 08:24 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Steve, The question mark (?) was applied to an exact quote of your words. I would have expected the word "non-identification" at that point in your original text, so, when I quoted your phrase, I put the question mark in as an alert.

General semantics advocates non-identification, because "identification" contributes to dysfunctional responses. Stereotyping, and then reacting to an individual person as if they were the stereotype is an example of "identification". If a person says, "I'm the victim here.", and then responds in terms of the general definition of a victim, or in terms of the societal attitude toward victims (for example, accepting "blame" for events they could not control), rather than to their own individual circumstances, then they are "identifying", and failing to respond to their own unique circumstances.

Consciousness of abstracting together with non-identity or non-identifying becomes the preferred orientation (together with extensional orientation).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, December 17, 2006 - 10:46 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

[W]e typically make either "Dispositional Attributions" or "Situational Attributions" suggests a two-valued orientation in the theory by virtue of distinguishing categorically. Decades ago (1975) individual differences multi-dimensional scaling (INDISCAL) techniques employed at Bell Labs in the analysis for structure in interpersonal communications abstracted dimensions that could apply more-or-less equally to both the relation (interaction of two traits) and the situation (context) I would question any theory that takes a binary (two-valued) categorical approach when multi-dimensional approaches are available. The work at Bell Labs shows that subjective-objective techniques can be applied to perform rigorous mathematical abstractions from human activities.

Does attribution theory provide for any of
(1) more than two categories,
(2) degrees of participation in contrasting categories
(3) anything other that the two possible views attributing causes to "traits" versus "situations"?

Attribution theory sounds like an application of a warmed-over version of the nature-nurture question - traits corresponding to nature (the way they "is") [internal] and situations corresponding to nurture (the way they "are" affected by the environment) [external].

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, December 17, 2006 - 10:48 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I suggest moving the previous two posts to a new subtopic - attribution theory, as the are no longer about victim orientation.