What is Victim Psychology?

Recently, I have been obsessed with getting to the bottom of one of the most unsettling anti-infrastructure appeals.

I can see now that it seems like Victim Psychology might have something to say about this.

What I am talking about specifically is when I talk about cycling infrastructure to those I would think would find it most appealing, and they still don’t get it.

I would have thought that the notion that our environment affects our decisions would be obvious.

Obviously, one sleeps better when one has a nice comfortable bed rather than when trying to sleep on a smelly bed of nails. This idea is pretty obvious to me.

Not to those who are “victims” it seems.

Instead of making our built environment safer and more sane, they are obsessed with pinning the blame on someone.

The cannonical paper, for me, on this is the infamous Orlando 2003 “safety” study where every other word was VIOLATION. In every collision, there was someone to blame.

Well, duh. In every collision someone did something they shouldn’t have done namely crashed their car into a bicycle at high speed. It’s not rocket science to say that this is a VIOLATION.

Suggesting that they should have paid attention more or whatever is besides the point. Someone should not get the death penalty nor have to live with the blood of someone on their hands if they mess up a little. That’s disproportional.

It also made zero sense to me until I read the following (from the above paper):

“The term generally refers not to a person who is the victim of a terrible act, such as a natural disaster, but rather to someone who avoids personal responsibility or bad feelings by blaming others. Many therapists and mental health professionals see victim psychology as a destructive mechanism that can inhibit personal relationships and a happy life.”

Yes! These people are ALWAYS angry.

“A person displaying victim psychology may be obsessed with fairness or morality. Generally, he or she believes that good things that occur are deserved, and bad things that occur are because someone else is being cruel, thoughtless, or unfair.”

Yes, I always hear cries of more punishment and “education” whenever there are “victims” around.

There’s the notion of punishing drivers and killing cyclists who mess up.

I guess I don’t buy into this because I don’t feel that the world is fair.

However, it can be safer.

Here’s some sweet sustainable safety:

“What causes crashes? In the original version of Sustainable Safety, the starting point was that crashes were in the end caused by predominantly unintentional errors by road users. Since it is quite often stated that hard-core or repeat offenders cause crashes, we have tried to investigate the distribution of crash causes.

This has led to the view that it is quite often difficult to attribute crash causes to actions that are either ‘unintentional errors’ or ‘deliberate violations’.”


But do the victims hear us?

“Like a deer in the headlights, victim psychology can paralyze a person and prevent him or her from making logical decisions. Being so caught up in how unfair a situation is, a person may be unable to think of ways or actions that could solve the problem. Instead of determining how to fix an issue, arguments or problems can quickly dissolve into accusations of blame, which is generally helpful to no one.”

I suggest that we prevent crashes through modest changes in our existing infrastructure budget.

Sustainable safety is the breath of fresh air that we are sorely lacking.


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