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Orienting to victimhood

Video Type: In Practice

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Summary

David and Noah “Orienting to victimhood” Scenario Background Noah is a 30 year old graduate student, married to Joanne with a 3-year old daughter, Samantha. His life is currently very hectic, and he has been struggling with the pace of things. He has been concerned about his mood lately, saying he feels “down” much of the time. In one session, he reports distress about an incident that happened a few days ago. He was in a small town and met another young man, who, upon learning that Noah was Jewish, asked “How come you're not in the ovens?” Video Introduction This video is paired with the Orienting to responses video to illustrate the outgrowth of two distinct ways of orienting to Noah's account. In this exchange, Noah has just shared the story of an ugly incident described in the scenario background summaries for the videos. As David listens to Noah's story, what does David zero in on as “the problem?” Would you say he is more oriented to Noah's active responses to events, or his shortcomings in dealing with them? What deficit of Noah's is constructed in this conversation based on this way of orienting to his story? What remedial “treatment” is recommended to address the purported deficit? How fortified for encountering similar events do you imagine Noah is feeling at the completion of this exchange? Video Analysis There is a difference between 1. Expressing empathy and compassion to someone recounting transgressions against them, and 2. Constructing the event as passive victimhood. Here the counsellor receives Noah's story empathetically, before launching an inquiry into how Noah purportedly failed to respond appropriately in the situation. The assumption is that he could have “done something” but instead was a passive victim. There is not an understanding of his response as a choice (conscious or not) informed by values, and expression of nonviolence, a silent protest. The outcome of the exchange is that Noah comes to learn that he needs to be “more assertive,” and that assertiveness is a commodity he can fill up on with the help of his counsellor. The meaning of the incident that emerges from this exchange is that it is evidence of a deficit in Noah's repertoire.

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