Learn­ing to feel like the vic­tim

Friday - - Society -

It’s mid-morn­ing in the ac­counts of­fice where Neveen* works and her col­league Dy­lan* has just pointed out a mis­take in some pay­ments that she cal­cu­lated the day be­fore. Naveen, 36, re­alises at once she was wrong, but in­stead of ad­mit­ting the er­ror and see­ing how the ac­counts can be sal­vaged, she im­me­di­ately reels off a long list of ex­cuses for her mis­cal­cu­la­tion.

“She sighed as if the job was just too de­mand­ing for her,” says Dy­lan, who has worked with Neveen for the past year. “Then she blamed ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one, from the girl who brings the in­voices up to our of­fice, to the soft­ware she says has been play­ing up re­cently. She even said she was tired be­cause her cat kept go­ing in and out of her room all night, stop­ping her get­ting a good night’s sleep.

“In the end ‘the princess’ just looked at me with big eyes and I could tell she needed me to sort it out for her. As soon as I of­fered to phone the bank on her be­half, she cheered up. It’s a stunt she pulls all the time. She re­fuses to take re­spon­si­bil­ity. She comes up with some amaz­ing ex­cuses. Al­ready this week she’s blamed her doc­tor, her youngest daugh­ter and a cab driver for things that have gone wrong.

“She al­ways says it’s their fault that she lost some notes or she was late for work, or she says her fam­ily made her do things she didn’t want to do. If she feels we’re not sym­pa­thetic, she bursts into tears. It’s be­come a bit of a joke among the staff now, though she’d be mor­ti­fied if she knew that.”

Neveen is play­ing the role of a princess in her of­fice. At first her col­leagues were happy to help her, but now, af­ter months of moan­ing and com­plain­ing from her, they feel as if they’re walk­ing on eggshells. They’re afraid of tack­ling her in case she cries, yet they’re fed up with bail­ing her out. Ac­cord­ing to UK-based hyp­nother­a­pist, coun­sel­lor and coach Tri­ci­aWool­frey, vic­tim­hood is “learned help­less­ness” and it starts early, some­times in childhood with an over­pro­tec­tive par­ent.

“Of­ten, if the child gets into trou­ble at school, the par­ent will blame another child or the teacher,” says Tri­cia, who has a prac­tice in Har­ley Street in Lon­don. “The child doesn’t learn to cope with any­thing. They learn a ‘poor me’ at­ti­tude from their par­ent and they start to be­lieve life is dif­fi­cult.

“As we grow up, this vic­tim­hood can stay with us and vic­tims re­main help­less peo­ple who al­ways need res­cu­ing. They can’t deal

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