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Playing the Victim aka Emotional Cutting

She went into Big Brother House a week ago with a chip on her shoulder and an agenda a mile wide. She was going to clean up the “horrible, horrible” housemates in the Big Brother House just like the many houses she was famous for cleaning on her TV show.

Three days later, she was in tears, claiming they were bullying her.

And a finer game of Play-The-Victim I never saw.

But is all as it seems?

The Reality of Reality Television

The only reason I watch reality TV is for research for this blog. And if you believe that, I got a bridge in Brooklyn to tell ya about.

But seriously, the Big Brother House show is perhaps the most real show of the many so-called reality shows, despite being shot in an incredibly Orwellian 1984-ish setting. Isolation (in a crowd). Sensory overload. Intellectual Deprivation. A houseful of complete strangers who are fundamentally incompatible. Thirty days in Orwellian Hell.

It has a way of bringing out the real person inside each housemate. Sooner or later, everybody cracks. Everybody cries. Everybody loses their temper…even the chillest of housemates.

Miss Clean was no exception. For her it just happened a little ahead of schedule.

The False Persona

Tough. That’s how she came off at first. Granite…and not even the nice kind of granite.

While I’ve never been a cutter, from the age of seven I slapped myself across the face…hard. I had no other “out” for my pain.

She’d been watching the show and disapproved. When she entered on Friday night, by jove, she was going to clean up the Big Brother House.

It kicked off within minutes of her entering the House. A young housemate’s exuberant belly-flop into the hot tub most unfortunately splashed Miss Clean. And she’s been lecturing, haranguing, insulting, shouting at, swearing at and threatening the other housemates ever since.

Evictions!

Perhaps the most brutal dynamic in Big Brother House is the face-to-face nominations for eviction. Being nominated is bad enough, but being faced with the brutally honest reason you were nominated to your face, hmmm, that’s tough. Hardly anyone takes it well.

Miss Clean was, unfortunately, immune from eviction…more’s the pity. But she nominated others. Boy! How she nominated!

The first victim to face her wrath was the only woman in the House with Lady Balls big enough to stand up to Miss Clean and put her in her place. Miss Clean had this to say about her: “I don’t like this gang handed situation, it’s bullying and it’s cruel, and anybody with a lesser personality than me would’ve broken me down. You’ve done a pretty good job already…and it’s a shame…you’re such a bitch.”

Some people are emotional cutters. They attack others, manipulating them into retaliating. This enables the “emotional cutter” to then feel sorry for themselves…

Wait. What? Broken her down!?! Me thinks the pot calleth the kettle.

At this point, the other housemates unanimously shouted, “Enough!” Because what she was saying simply wasn’t true. It was Projection at its finest.

Her second nomination was for the sweetest prettiest girl in the house whom she called a “coward.”

Then, most dramatically and unexpectedly, Ms. Clean burst into tears.

Solitary Confinement

Apply alcohol…and it all gets worse. Just when you think it can’t, it does. Not one but two Security Officers were forced to invade the Mind Control isolation of Big Brother House to separate Miss Clean from, well, everyone else. It had to be done before physical violence occurred. She was dragged off yelling “Adulterer! Adulterer!” She spent the night in isolation from the other housemates after calling them a “two-faced bunch, [of] chicken-livered s**ts.”

Wow.

The Backstory

I was all set to hate Miss Clean as the cruelest housemate ever to set foot in BBH. She came in swingin’…then played the victim when she reaped the just rewards of insulting everyone. I was convinced she was hard as nails and mean to the bone.

But her tears surprised me, so I dug a little deeper. What I discovered, made me weep for her.

Her mother beat her constantly in childhood. Hated her guts. “The police were always at the door,” she remembers. Even at her mother’s funeral, she was the only child not listed as a survivor. A final slap in the face.

In 1965 she discovered she was pregnant and alone as her boyfriend of two-years vamoosed in a flying hurry. Six months later, she miscarried her stillborn son alone. She dug his grave alone. She buried him alone. She grieved alone.

The truth is, the meanest amongst us are (usually) hurting the most. Miss Clean is no exception.

Then why does she go on the attack? Why stir the pot?

I’ve got a theory.

Emotional Cutting

Some people are physical cutters, using a blade on their skin. It helps them to feel, really feel, when they’re emotionally numb. As Johnny Cash wrote, “I hurt myself today, To see if I still feel.”

Maybe seeing the blood flow is a relief, much like popping a pimple or a cyst a la OCD dermatillomania is a relief. The “bad” gets squeezed out, symbolic of the “bad” we want to remove from our lives. Maybe it’s about having a tiny morsel of control in a crazy, out-of-control life.

Most importantly, maybe it’s about being able to feel empathy for yourself for the physical pain the cut causes in lieu of the emotional pain we’re not allowed to grieve. Maybe cutting is about finally being able to weep, to have self-empathy where usually it’s denied, forbidden, “unnecessary.” While I’ve never been a cutter, from the age of seven I slapped myself across the face…hard. I had no other “out” for my pain. Mom knew; Mom told me not to. But sometimes, ya just gotta do what ya gotta do to express the confusing pain that’s invalid…not real…you shouldn’t be feeling it. The self-slapping ended when my husband extended the compassion I so desperately needed after cult-like abuse.

Some people are emotional cutters. They attack others, manipulating them into retaliating. This enables the “emotional cutter” to then feel sorry for themselves when the person they attacked naturally attacks (“cuts”) them back. Suddenly, the tears can flow as they mourn the emotional pain (“verbal cutting”) the attack they provoked causes.

The verbal cutting they incited isn’t as much about “playing the victim” as it’s about their own emotional pain. Usually, they can’t feel. Usually, they can’t cry. Usually, they have zero self-empathy, zero self-compassion. Creating a scene, manipulation others into being mean to them, is their only “out.” Their only way of grieving a lifetime of pain. It looks like they’re “Playing the Victim” but it’s much more complicated than that.

That’s why my heart went out to Miss Clean. She’s hurting…wow! how she’s hurting!! She won’t admit it. She’s never dealt with it. She’s an Emotional “Cutter.”

How do I know?

I’ve done it for years.

Playing the Victim aka Emotional Cutting

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post and YourTango freelance writer and entrepreneur. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, subscribe to her bi-weekly e-newsletter, contribute to help her husband fight his extremely rare lung disease, Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and shop her e-store, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com.


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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2017). Playing the Victim aka Emotional Cutting. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism/2017/01/playing-the-victim-aka-emotional-cutting/

 

Last updated: 22 Jan 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jan 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.