The essential elements that create victim consciousness were discussed last month in Part 1. Since in takes two to tango, perpetrators will be discussed next. Blamers blame others for what occurs in their life. Blamers lack self-awareness and fail to develop the necessary self-discipline to self-examine. The projective quality of a perpetrator’s emotional defense system is often flawed in the same way as someone ensnared in victim consciousness. They don’t see their mistake, illusion or their unconscious hand orchestrating the whole experience. Aggressors are frequently dissociated from their own pain/agony and mistakenly act out their projective rage, hate or distain of themselves on others.
Pain provides information about our internal malfunction and reveals imbalances in our body, heart, and mind. If a bully decides to be cruel to another child for example, the form of illusion provides the idea and the opportunity for a perpetrator to experience cruel impulses and the possible enjoyment or internal emotional release from watching someone suffer. The pain that the bully imposes on his victim is a mirror for both the bully and victim. The bully may feel a twisted form of empowerment momentarily by copying a perpetrator that victimized them. A victim may re-experience a “worthless scapegoat” illusion and/or imagine retribution will right wrongs by dreaming that bullies “get what they deserve” later. At the core, the bully and the victim are exactly the same—both dream of power.
Victims and perpetrators heal with love and compassion. When retaliation, projection, and revenge become our primary motivation, a victim/perpetrator paradigm can develop. In this reciprocal relationship, victims can be compared to a catcher behind the plate in baseball, while perpetrators are pitchers. Each is convinced he or she is engaging in a solitary activity, but the catcher fails to realize how he throws the ball back to the pitcher to continue the game. This timeless dynamic allows the tragic drama of pitch and catch to endlessly recycle. Retaliation, self-soothing pity-parties of helplessness, finger-pointing hopelessness and retribution fantasies are the types of things keeping the ball in play.
This failure to become self-responsible combined with a dysfunctional primary love template of internalized pain and/or dissociated rage can lead to a victim/perpetrator paradigm. Those claiming victim status and perpetrators hold opposite sides of a reciprocal pole within the victim/ perpetrator paradigm, since both struggles with personal responsibility and internal emotional honesty. Perpetrators and victims victimize themselves and each another while claiming innocence and blaming the other, which recycles the victim/perpetrator paradigm.
The victim/perpetrator paradigm provides opportunities for everyone to see their reflection in the mirrors of illusion. Whether in that moment we are the bully or the victim, mirrors are provided with the strength and power necessary to get our attention so that we can see our twisted dream or cruel reflection and eventually find where love exists.
Here are some additional considerations within the victim/ perpetrator paradigm:
- Perpetrators frequently were victims of violence and/or emotional or physical neglect.
- Perpetrators seek victims to project unwanted emotions upon and victims feel victimized and then flip-flop roles.
- Anger/rage and helplessness/passivity are different reactions to the suffering continuum, but both methods dissociate from personal trauma.
- Dissociation cuts off the ability to feel our own pain but seeing another suffer can provide a twisted sense of relief.
- When emotional indifference and/or violence are modeled, the victim can encode a sense of unworthiness or invisibility as a primary love template survival strategy.
- Violence projects internal rage onto another and is another primary love template survival strategy that masks vulnerable emotions within perpetrator.
The victim/perpetrator paradigm occurs because people are disconnected from internal wounds within their hearts, which makes any objective form of self-examination extremely difficult. Sometimes narcissism and entitlement primary love templates develop to mask emotional wounds, which blind us from realizing the harm we cause others and ourselves. Unfortunately, on a bigger scale, recycled rage and love linked to pain is also the reason why the victim/perpetrator paradigm persists. Throughout human history, bullies, predators and abusers terrorize, while martyrs, saboteurs and those using other passive forms of rage tend to self-victimize. Children raised in these environments frequently link love with pain and abandon (self-sabotage or victimize) themselves in similar “invisible” ways just like the models witnessed from parents or abusers.
This phenomenon is how cycles of abuse, victimization and self-sabotage have proliferated and perpetuated themselves in both families and the larger society alike. The victim/perpetrator paradigm is involved in repetitive cycles of violence imposed upon races, cultures and ethnic groups. Dishonorable leaders often use victimization rhetoric to grab power with calls for patriotism to justify wars, genocide and prejudice. It is the root cause for generational grudges and ethnic wars that still rage today.
Primary love templates recycle until we become conscious and create a new path. Twisted over the millennia, this paradigm has mutated into the insidious virus we commonly call terrorism. Our encrypted primary love templates and victim/perpetrator paradigms of neglect or abuse we inadvertently recycle are our responsibility to resolve. Reviewing and addressing every dysfunctional pattern recycling our suffering is a good practice and requires self- realization. It can be daunting to deal with victim and perpetrator tendencies on our own. Please seek assistance if you run into trouble, because brutal self-knowledge is critical to untangling dysfunctional patterns and templates. Facing negative patterns on your own can be overwhelming.
Nov 2018 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani. He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.