I am actually not in disagreement with anything you write here. I agree, people actually experience being victimized by multiple conditions and contexts. I agree that oppression exists. And, these contexts are not changed by managing one’s emotions or thinking differently. However, perpetually experiencing oneself as a victim (learned helplessness), despite contexts shifting and new opportunities for growth, healing, and success somehow, is not helpful. Some have a MUCH easier time stepping out of learned helplessness due to far more experiences of oppression and trauma, and I am not arguing it is equally easy for all.

I also agree with there being large cultural and societal problems that create unwellness. I think these problems are complex. I do think that taking it upon oneself to let go of victimhood, is a great way to actually begin to heal these collective problems, without waiting for government to make the changes we want to see. I think addressing victimhood IS political, as this is what inspires people to get more politically involved, and actually remain engaged in organizing to create large-scale changes, whether it be in their communities, regionally, or globally.

The message of this article is existential. Only you can live your own unique life, independent of any resources/privileges you do, or do not have.

At some point, we need to do what we can, with what we have available to us, and find where we can take responsibility for ourselves.

I found the industry around mental health, and the overall way US culture treats mental health providers, to be extremely draining. I did reach burn out. And guess what, I chose to do what I could about the experience, and took hold of my life, in the ways I could.

I now live in Mexico, in the poorest area (Chiapas), and get to see and experience, first-hand, what life is like for those who have far less than the majority of the severely poor in the US. I regularly spend time with people who come from this background. What I have noticed is after a certain point, when the people around me realize that there are severe limits to how much more up the wealth/privilege/functioning ladder they can progress, they need to take control over what they do have, and make the most of it. Some of the hardest working, most positive and empowered people I have met, have almost nothing, and very little privilege.

I see that collectivist ways of functioning as family units helps with many of the difficulties the extreme poor here face. However, you are also discounting that when you have a legacy of severe poverty, there are also severe mental health and attachment issues, due to rampant rates of alcoholism/ general addiction, child labor, neglect and abuse, and also children being exposed to not two or one caregivers with issues (like in individualist cultures), but to a whole community with severe issues, that they are scarcely protected from being harmed by. So, I wouldn’t idealize collectivism too much. Collectivism with wealth and privilege tends to work, but not with poverty. Since much of the population in many collectivist cultures are also rather poor, I think you get my drift here…

I wrote for the Medium population. I would say the grand majority of people privileged enough to be reading and sharing this article, are those who do have opportunities to experience empowerment, and likely the resources to get help. To write for every possible population on the planet would have required a very long article.

Additionally, why would I expect change for someone to happen overnight? I haven’t even mastered these four points! I offer them though, as a starting point to accountability and empowerment.

I could write a book about accountability and empowerment, and an article here cannot possibly cover it all.

As for commenters, I honestly have no control over how people want to label those who are struggling. I do believe, however, that we all do our collective share of complaining, which tends to be much less helpful than processing our emotions, understanding where we do and don’t have power, and addressing why we keep repeating the same patterns in life.

To end, I want to mention that I was trained as an attachment therapist and my dissertation also involved an in-depth analysis of attachment research. To imply I don’t understand attachment, as it might be applied to cultural issues, because of what I have written here is… interesting? I see that the whole perception of attachment in the Western lens, and ways we view what is proper attachment, is WESTERN, and also very highly privileged. It IS mostly individualistic and capitalistic, and views collectivist attachment experiences through this frame.

To offer solutions to a cultural problem through an attachment lens, I think is beautiful, as well as deeply compassionate. And, at the same time, extremely idealistic. Many governments around the world are sun by sociopathic and psychopathic individuals. They seek these positions of power as a part of their attachment wounding. They also perpetuate the greed and imbalance of resources across the globe. To think a government will start to give everyone a fair chance at secure attachment, I think is wishful thinking.

On the individual, familial, and community level, when we have generations of traumatized and traumatic people, raising others as traumatized and traumatic people, we can certainly intervene by offering resources, safe spaces, education, good food and water, early support and intervention, as well as securely attached community and family figures for people to bond with, at a young age. To help people become securely attached takes intensive resources and support. Then to help them help others be securely attached is also major on time and resources. This change will take generations. Whereas, taking it upon oneself to be as accountable as possible for one’s life, will take less time. It is also a signpost OF secure attachment. In fact, if we are to apply an attachment approach to creating cultural change, it is ABSOLUTELY imperative that we are all as empowered and accountable, as possible, which requires relating to and viewing oneself NOT as a victim. This, combined with whatever external, societal supports, would create the best results. But, I wouldn’t wait long for those governmental or societal supports…

Coach. Psychologist. Writing about new perspectives, love, relationships, Narcissism, healing, transformation, & culture. www.avapommerenkphd.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store