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  • In /On the Genealogy of Morals/, Nietzsche searches through history for the origins of

  • morality.

  • And in it, he talks about how some people use morality like a dog-leash to control others.

  • They use morality to get people to do what they want.

  • It's an interesting idea with lots of implications, but I'm interested in exploring one particular

  • version of this idea: /playing the victim/. Someone who plays the victim is an example

  • of someone who uses morality to gain power, and that's what I wanna explore in this

  • essay.

  • But before we can understand what it means to /play the victim/, we need to understand

  • what it means to be a victim.

  • For this essay, we can define a /victim/ as /someone who is taken advantage of by another

  • person/.

  • And we can call /the act of taking advantage of someone/ a /crime/.

  • And typically, what we want for all victims is /justice/.

  • And /justice/, as discussed by Nietzsche, can be thought of as /giving back to the victim

  • what was lost when the crime was committed/.

  • In other words, you can think of justice as /the repaying of debts/: the criminal must

  • repay the debt they acquired by taking advantage of the victim.

  • I'm not saying this is what justice means, but this is a way many people understand justice,

  • and this definition is important in the context of this video.

  • So what does it mean to play the victim?

  • What separates a genuine victim from someone playing the victim?

  • A genuine victim was actually taken advantage of, but someone playing the victim wasn't.

  • And how do you determine whether someone was actually taken advantage of?

  • It comes down to /consent/. Someone is taken advantage of when their presence is used in

  • a way they didn't agree to.

  • And so a true victim did not give consent or was not in a position to give consent,

  • such as in the case of a child or someone who was severely intoxicated.

  • But someone who plays the victim gives legitimate consent and then claims they didn't.

  • Or they claim /you/ consented to things which you didn't consent to or were not in a position

  • to consent to.

  • I'll explore what both cases look like a little later on.

  • So why would someone play the victim?

  • To put it simply, they play victim so someone will save them from their problems.

  • They're looking for a rescuer.

  • And how do they get people to save them?

  • Someone who plays the victim has two main weapons: obligation and guilt, and pity and

  • disgust.

  • Let's take a look at the first weapon: obligation and guilt.

  • Here, the person playing the victim claims that /you/ consented to things that you didn't

  • consent to or were not in a position to consent to.

  • They impose an obligation on you and make you feel guilty for not living up to the obligation.

  • They try to coerce you into paying a debt that you did not consent to taking on.

  • Let's look at an example.

  • At the age of 22, Jane's husband left her with their two sons: Jamie and Michael.

  • Jane told herself that she would dedicate her life to her sons, and that in return they

  • would take care of her.

  • /I will take care of them,/ she thought, /and in return, they can never leave me/.

  • So keep that in mind: Jane is imposing an obligation on her sons.

  • She's binding them into a covert contract.

  • But they're children.

  • They're not in a position to consent to such a contract.

  • So how does this play out?

  • Jane will do anything for them as long as they don't leave her alone.

  • But as they start growing up, naturally, they start wanting to live their own lives.

  • They want to spend time with their friends and lovers.

  • And anytime they want to leave the house, anytime they want to do something without

  • her, anytime she feels them creating some distance from her, their mom uses guilt and

  • obligation to make them stay.

  • She says, “after everything I've done for you, after all the time, energy, and money

  • I've spent on you, you're just going to leave me?!

  • You are terrible sons!

  • You should be ashamed!”

  • But is this fair of Jane to do?

  • She imposed this contract on her kids—/I will take care of you as long as you never

  • leave me/—when they were not in a position to consent to such a contract.

  • And whenever they seem to threaten her contract, she uses guilt and obligation to force them

  • to comply again.

  • Instead of handling the problem of loneliness in a mature and healthy way, she emotionally

  • blackmails her sons into rescuing her.

  • Now let's look at the second weapon someone uses when playing the victim: pity and disgust.

  • Here, the person playing the victim claims that they did not give /you/ legitimate consent

  • when they actually did.

  • They're trying to claim they didn't give you legitimate consent so that others feel

  • pity for them and disgust for you.

  • If people feel pity for them, they get people on their side and increase the chances that

  • someone will come and rescue them.

  • If people feel disgust for you, the person playing the victim turns people against you,

  • which will increase the chances that you submit to their demands.

  • Let's return to our example.

  • So Jane's attempt to use guilt and obligation works on one of her sons, Jamie, but they

  • fail to work on Michael.

  • Michael tells his mom that he's moving away to go to a good college.

  • So what does Jane do when guilt and obligation fail?

  • She uses pity and disgust.

  • She says to Jamie, the son who feels obligated to her, “can you believe Michael would do

  • that to his own mother?

  • He took all of my money and then left me all alone!”

  • She makes Jamie feel pity towards her, increasing the chances he'll rescue her, and makes

  • him feel disgust towards his brother Michael, increasing the chances Jamie will abandon

  • Michael or coerce him into submitting to his mother's demands.

  • But is it fair for Jane to claim that Michael took all of her money and left?

  • Remember, Jane's contract is /I will take care of you as long as you never leave me./Jane

  • was an adult when she chose to enter that contract for Michael, but Michael was just

  • a baby.

  • Jane was capable of giving legitimate consent and did, but she expected a mutual consent

  • from Michael that he wasn't in a position to give as a child.

  • And even if Michael was able to give consent, he might not have wanted to enter into that

  • contract with his motherone where she supports him in exchange for him never leaving her

  • alone.

  • So she gave him legitimate consent to receive her support as a child, but now that he's

  • not meeting her demands, she's trying to claim that she never gave him consent and

  • that he took advantage of her.

  • That's just one example of someone playing the victim, but it can happen in many different

  • types of relationships: between lovers, family, friends, or co-workers.

  • But everyone who plays the victim has one thing in common: covert contracts.

  • What's that?

  • It's a hidden expectation of someone else.

  • Remember, I said that a person can play the victim in two ways.

  • The first way is that they can give you legitimate consent and then claim they never gave it

  • to you.

  • But why would they claim they didn't give it to you?

  • Usually because they had a hidden expectation, a covert contract, which you didn't live

  • up to.

  • And so now they want to claim they never gave you consent to punish you or to make you fulfill

  • the hidden expectation they have.

  • The second way someone can play the victim is that they can claim /you/ gave consent

  • when you didn't or were not in a position to.

  • In our previous example with Jane, the mother, she might say to her son Michael, “you were

  • never supposed to leave me!”

  • But that was a hidden expectation, a covert contract, that Michael's mother had for

  • him.

  • Michael never gave legitimate consent to that expectation.

  • So how do we stop playing the victim or being manipulated by other people playing the victim?

  • The answer comes back to /mutual consent between people who are in a position to give legitimate

  • consent/.

  • We need to be clear about what we want from others and what they want in return, and then

  • we have to mutually consent to give one another those things.

  • And in cases where the other party can't give us consent, such as our children, we

  • are only free to give our consent to them, but we can't demand things of them that

  • they aren't in a position to give us consent for.

  • As always, this is just my opinion, understanding, and interpretation of some of Nietzsche's

  • ideas, not advice.

  • If you liked the video, please consider liking the video.

  • And if you're looking for another Nietzsche video to watch after this one, I recommend

  • watching my videoNietzsche - Overcome Shame, Become Who You Are”.

  • I'll put a link to it in the description below and in the top right of the screen right

  • now.

In /On the Genealogy of Morals/, Nietzsche searches through history for the origins of

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Nietzsche - Beware of People Playing the Victim

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    Summer posted on 2022/05/06
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