Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


THE ART AND PRACTICE OF VICTIMHOOD: THE Essential steps for becoming a Successful Victim


By Donald J. Paglia

Not too many of us like to be told what to do. In fact most people despise it. As a therapist who works with many different types of people I have had to find creative ways to assist people who are in some sort of conflict. Some folks come both wanting and seeking advice about solving a particular difficulty, while at the same time they sometimes also bring a severe dislike of having someone – anyone – even suggest things for them to do – things that may even prove effective in aiding to get past their stated conflict. It’s their sheer resistance – overtly or covertly – stated against the possibility of being told what to do that can keep them stuck.

As a change agent the question for me then becomes, ‘how can one effectively counsel someone who brings an ambivalence for both wanting help while also disliking getting help?’ One technique that I sometimes employ is called a paradoxical intervention. This consists of telling someone what not to do in the hope they will then do just the opposite, or will do the reverse of what I am offering them.

Paradoxical interventions can best be described as when a therapist directs his or her client to perform the very problem the client is seeking to eradicate. The underlying principle is that clients’ implement certain emotions and actions for specific reasons. A blunt way of saying this is paradoxical interventions can actually even be funny.

Also an amateur comic and someone who sees a powerful use of humor and playfulness for providing access for people to gain insights, and to make important changes. Over the years I have found humor to be essential for our mental health and wellbeing. I regard our common humanity – which includes our resistance to change and dislike for being told what to do – as a source of grace and a source of connection. I attempt to tap into these common and human aspects in order to best utilize them when working to help people.

I have written in the past regarding our common shared humanity and I believe that our human condition is a critical part of our spiritual underpinnings. It is with these observations that I hold regarding all of humankind, as well as other insights, that I now offer to you this blog. I way am entitling it suggests it is for anyone who would wish to become an effective victim, or perhaps it will be where some are able to see his/her manifests already some behaviors of victims. This may then prove useful.

You are, of course, most free to see each forthcoming blog installment as simply a rather tongue and cheek – even humorous – perspective. You are encouraged to indulge in some robust laughter, or you may, if in fact, see yourself, at least in some these prescribed methods I will be proposing. If the later is the case you might also be able to take them into account for your own personal and professional growth and development.

If nothing else if I cause you to chuckle a tad I will feel fulfilled, and I will be more than satisfied. I must, however, warn you that humor is also an effective way to learn and gain insight. So read with fair warning.

Here goes:


Victimhood. It’s practically become a national pastime. For some it seems they are not only quite skillful and proficient at it, but apparently come by it naturally. If you lack expertise in this all-too-important 21st Century talent, do not despair. I am here to offer you step-by-step assistance. I promise you that with enough persistence and with my excellent coaching, you, too, can learn the skills of becoming an effective – brilliant – masterful victim.

And in doing so you will reap the rewards so many have already come to discover. Over the next few weeks if you will simply subscribe to these various guidelines and proposals, and follow them through to their logical conclusion, you’ll be more than likely on your way to an opportunistic future of VICTIMHOOD. Tune in weekly, starting next Friday, and read all about the various necessary steps and requirements for becoming masterful in the Art and Practice of Victimhood.