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Do you think of yourself as a victim?


gandolfication

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one of the things my boss has said to me on a few occasions (besides 'stop feeling sorry for yourself' and 'get your big boy pants on') is that I need to stop thinking about myself as a victim.

These are caustically unpleasant things for me to hear.  But I don't deny there is at least an element of truth to them, and probably more than that.

Especially the part about seeing myself as a victim in various ways.....mostly (and this is strange) a victim of my own self, yes of depression, and of this god forsaken world, etc., and the list could go on.

It's related to the question I've had good conversations here in the past with people about learned helplessness and self-pity, etc. and how that is a part of depression.

But I wonder if this tendency to see myself as a victim in certain senses is something I could more easily change.  I think it is.

I wonder if others have focused much on this?

Edited by gandolfication
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I don't think of myself as a victim. Nobody specifically set out to do me harm. 'It's just business.' People have acted in their selfish interest in unethical ways at my expense. I could blame racial prejudice, flawed education institutions, corrupt employers. But they are indifferent to me, specifically. I haven't encountered individuals with a personal agenda to go out of their way to ruin my life. Maybe you have. So I don't feel like a victim. Someone would have to be personally responsible in damaging my life for me to feel that way.

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Hi gandolfication,

I used to look at myself as a victim for longer time I´d like to admit. I felt constantly sorry for myself and felt something or somebody was to blame for my misfortune. It was the worst kind of thinking I know of and landed me in countless troubles. At the end, nobody wanted to be near me and my depression seemed endless. My career was going nowhere and everything was stagnated.

I´m not sure when I stopped the victim mentality and decided to take 100% responsibility for my life, but it´s been some time ago. It was a life changer and I finally started to get somewhere with my life. I met new people who wanted to be my friends and got better at dealing with most things. It gave me freedom and lifted a huge burden from my chest.

For sure, I still get depressive episodes and I´m coming out of a difficult situation right now, but without feeling sorry for myself. Trust me, it leads to nowhere.

I think it´s very human to feel this way, but it´s just not helpful.

Wishing you the best.

 

 

 

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Hi Gandolfication,

     With all due respect for your boss, who I am sure is a wonderful person with countless strengths and insights and accomplishments . . . . I think he is basically clueless about depression because he has not suffered it himself. 

     This reminds me of a situation I often see, namely of how people who have never been in a serious automobile accident drive and how those who have been in a serious automobile accident drive.  The "experience" of being in a serious accident changes a person, generally speaking.  And the "experience" cannot be simply passed on through other means such as education and so on. 

     There are people whose brains are suffering:  reduced regional cerebral blood flow, atrophy of the front lobes, atrophy of the hippocampi, enlargement of the               amygdalae,  reduced regional cerebral glucose metabolism, enlargement of the adrenal glands, changes in shape, size, mass, volume and density of brain structures at the gross anatomical level and down to the cellular and molecular level, loss of glial cells, and, and, and . . . changes, abnormal changes, pathological changes not related to brain aging.

     A person who is not suffering these things cannot possibly "really" understand what that is like.  I imagine it would be even harder for someone whose livelihood consists in getting the best possible performance out of employees regardless of their condition

     One problem in communication is, I think, that the word "depression" has such a wide spectrum of meaning.  People speak of being depressed when they experience a bad mood for a day, perhaps.  There is mild depression, moderation depression, severe depression.  There is psychotic depression.  There is catatonic depression and everything in between.  Thus, sometimes when people argue about depression they are talking about different things.  A cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, pneumonia leading to sepsis:  you could say they are all respiratory illnesses. But that does not make them all identical.  There are mild depressions that one can push through.  There are more serious depressions also.  A person experiencing a psychotic depression would be ill advised to simply push through.  Such a person would be in need of immediate medical attention. 

     There are things which can aggravate some forms of depression.  And in those cases it would be best not to aggravate the depression.  I don't think it would be good advice to tell a person suffering from alcoholism to hang out at bars.  I don't think it would be wise to tell a person in the midst of suicidal depression to become an air traffic controller during this time.  I would, in fact, consider it a good idea for an air traffic controller in the grips of suicidal thoughts to take some time off from work . . . and not . . . just push through.

     Maybe I am wrong.  I am often wrong about many things.  This is just my current opinion. 

PS.  The word "victim" comes from the same Latin root as "victor" and originally signified the result of a conquest, whether one was conquered or the conqueror.  Today, however, victim is an analogical concept.  It can have a variety of meanings. "Victim" can mean anything from being on the receiving end of something undesirable to being conquered by that thing.  So I would guess that various people can answer yes or no to whether they feel they are victims without necessarily contradicting each other.  I "am" a victim in certain senses and "am not" a victim in other senses.  Know what I mean?

 

Edited by Epictetus
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12 hours ago, Violet31 said:

Hi gandolfication,

I used to look at myself as a victim for longer time I´d like to admit. I felt constantly sorry for myself and felt something or somebody was to blame for my misfortune. It was the worst kind of thinking I know of and landed me in countless troubles. At the end, nobody wanted to be near me and my depression seemed endless. My career was going nowhere and everything was stagnated.

I´m not sure when I stopped the victim mentality and decided to take 100% responsibility for my life, but it´s been some time ago. It was a life changer and I finally started to get somewhere with my life. I met new people who wanted to be my friends and got better at dealing with most things. It gave me freedom and lifted a huge burden from my chest.

For sure, I still get depressive episodes and I´m coming out of a difficult situation right now, but without feeling sorry for myself. Trust me, it leads to nowhere.

I think it´s very human to feel this way, but it´s just not helpful.

Wishing you the best.

 

 

 

Yah, That has been such a difficult struggle for me.  In my case, I believe I have gone somewhat the opposite direction over the past 7-8 years.

I try very hard to have either something like the very positive and resilient attitude I used to or some new variation.  It just comes only very, very hard, and I don't think I'm often successful.  

I do know that a lot (probably even most) comes down to my behavior, choice, attitude, actions, etc.  Simultaneously, I feel as though I also need some kind of help with the real, physiological and psychological symptoms that Epictetus is describing below.  Without it, it feels like despite my best efforts, I am trying to climb up a waterfall or something.

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12 hours ago, Epictetus said:

Hi Gandolfication,

     With all due respect for your boss, who I am sure is a wonderful person with countless strengths and insights and accomplishments . . . . I think he is basically clueless about depression because he has not suffered it himself. 

     This reminds me of a situation I often see, namely of how people who have never been in a serious automobile accident drive and how those who have been in a serious automobile accident drive.  The "experience" of being in a serious accident changes a person, generally speaking.  And the "experience" cannot be simply passed on through other means such as education and so on. 

     There are people whose brains are suffering:  reduced regional cerebral blood flow, atrophy of the front lobes, atrophy of the hippocampi, enlargement of the               amygdalae,  reduced regional cerebral glucose metabolism, enlargement of the adrenal glands, changes in shape, size, mass, volume and density of brain structures at the gross anatomical level and down to the cellular and molecular level, loss of glial cells, and, and, and . . . changes, abnormal changes, pathological changes not related to brain aging.

     A person who is not suffering these things cannot possibly "really" understand what that is like.  I imagine it would be even harder for someone whose livelihood consists in getting the best possible performance out of employees regardless of their condition

     One problem in communication is, I think, that the word "depression" has such a wide spectrum of meaning.  People speak of being depressed when they experience a bad mood for a day, perhaps.  There is mild depression, moderation depression, severe depression.  There is psychotic depression.  There is catatonic depression and everything in between.  Thus, sometimes when people argue about depression they are talking about different things.  A cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, pneumonia leading to sepsis:  you could say they are all respiratory illnesses. But that does not make them all identical.  There are mild depressions that one can push through.  There are more serious depressions also.  A person experiencing a psychotic depression would be ill advised to simply push through.  Such a person would be in need of immediate medical attention. 

     There are things which can aggravate some forms of depression.  And in those cases it would be best not to aggravate the depression.  I don't think it would be good advice to tell a person suffering from alcoholism to hang out at bars.  I don't think it would be wise to tell a person in the midst of suicidal depression to become an air traffic controller during this time.  I would, in fact, consider it a good idea for an air traffic controller in the grips of suicidal thoughts to take some time off from work . . . and not . . . just push through.

     Maybe I am wrong.  I am often wrong about many things.  This is just my current opinion. 

PS.  The word "victim" comes from the same Latin root as "victor" and originally signified the result of a conquest, whether one was conquered or the conqueror.  Today, however, victim is an analogical concept.  It can have a variety of meanings. "Victim" can mean anything from being on the receiving end of something undesirable to being conquered by that thing.  So I would guess that various people can answer yes or no to whether they feel they are victims without necessarily contradicting each other.  I "am" a victim in certain senses and "am not" a victim in other senses.  Know what I mean?

 

This is good, thanks for writing.

Yah, and I wasn't intending this to be mostly about my boss or disapproving...just using that as a recent reference point, I guess as well as something I am dealing with now.

I do feel like if I can obtain some kind of assist to help get me off the mark so to speak, then the effort I try to continually make can be more effective.  And that I guess is why I continue to pursue mental health support from doctors and soon again hopefully a therapist.

Thanks

-g

 

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4 minutes ago, Diego_Sebastian said:

No, wrong things happens, thats the thing, nothing much to add.

Diego,

I'm not sure I understand what you mean.  You mean that you don't see yourself as a victim, but rather that sh*t just happens in this world...that's the way it is?

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55 minutes ago, standup said:

I know your boss is trying to be helpful, but he should probably recognize that he isn't a licensed therapist and promptly stop with this nonsense. That is probably one of the worst things you can say to someone with clinical anxiety/ depression. That's about as bad as "snap out of it."

Yah, I know.  I don't expect him (or most people) to understand depression.  And to be fair, there are multiple other diseases and conditions in the world that I don't have a good understanding of.  It is obnoxious though to hear these things and think things like, 'yah, that's a part of it, but it's caused by a lot more than anything like a decision to just feel bad or sorry for myself...'

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I'm late to the conversation, but I agree with @standup

You've referred to the words of your boss as 'caustically unpleasant' and 'obnoxious', so the comment to follow likely won't be earth-shattering.  To me his words are condescending and make me wonder what dynamic has transpired where it's okay to talk down to you.  The comment of his that honestly most bothered me was 'get your big boy pants on'...  If you're confiding something in him or wearing vulnerability on your sleeve, for lack of a better phrase: I wouldn't, in order to spare yourself his barbs.

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28 minutes ago, bohemian_artist said:

I'm late to the conversation, but I agree with @standup

You've referred to the words of your boss as 'caustically unpleasant' and 'obnoxious', so the comment to follow likely won't be earth-shattering.  To me his words are condescending and make me wonder what dynamic has transpired where it's okay to talk down to you.  The comment of his that honestly most bothered me was 'get your big boy pants on'...  If you're confiding something in him or wearing vulnerability on your sleeve, for lack of a better phrase: I wouldn't, in order to spare yourself his barbs.

Yah, this has become truly a common phenomenon that is very much en vogue in recent years in corporate (especially sales) environments - to be 'real' and 'transparent' which are euphemisms for basically, hey, we're going to let you know you're a commodity only as good as your last sale, totally expendable, and we'll try to act cool about it.  No one really has time to see about helping an employee overcoming something like this (and I understand that).  But let's dispense with the pretense and the self-congratulation.  He's literally said and reminded me 25 times, how great he and the company are for even working with me, let alone 'fighting for me' the favorite framing of sales managers.  And again, I'm not being ungrateful, as I fully believe he has done a good bit of this.  It's just very uncomfortable, because I've already beaten myself up as a failure more than he ever could - and he knows and has acknowledged this too.

And on one hand, I don't even mind that so much.  I know the score, and its not good.  What really does get under my skin is the way that the higher you go in most organizations, you find that people embody more character traits on the DSM's checklist for sociopathology.  And one thing this means is that they are very good at pure double speak, i.e., (and these are real comments that have been repeated to me ad nauseum), 'we care about you here, I want to help you, this isn't just sink or swim, this is a family, etc.' meanwhile, these little barbs communicating quite explicitly, that one is inadequate, failing, not really competent or capable and just not one of the fittest who's cut out to make it and survive.

It's the double speak that irritates me.  I have always been someone who has placed a high value and priority on truth and accuracy and honesty, and these are things that are in short supply today in our world especially in business.  I am probably in the minority that I find the better politicians are actually more authentic and honest than today's business leaders.

 

Ah well, I do know there is a certain sense in which, to oversimplify a bit crassly, I do need to re-develop a thicker skin, and a mental toughness that I can put into action.  I certainly have worked on this and tried, and a part of me still has it...but seems to be submerged beneath the wreckage of depression.

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32 minutes ago, standup said:

I might say something like, "Look, this is clinical anxiety/ depression. I've been dealing with it for years. It's not a new thing, and it's not something you can just shut off. I know that's difficult for lay people to understand, but that's the truth of it. In that regard, it's no different than any other illness."

Yah, I have said a few things fairly close to this making the point that it is a real, clinically diagnosed disease/condition which I have spent countless amount of time, effort, money and energy to work to improve.  Of course, this cuts both ways a little in the sense that saying, 'hey I have a really serious mental illness' is certainly not a reason to keep me on the payroll.  So I try to walk the line.

But I have said, that while there is inevitably a behavioral element of learned helplessness or feeling self-pitty, that is a very reductive descriptioin and represents only the tip of the iceberg.

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Just now, standup said:

After much time and careful consideration and introspection, I pretty much blame depression for most of what's gone wrong in my life. Is that a victim mentality? Is that not taking personal responsibility?

Very well put.  This is exactly my question.

I can't ever fully divorce myself from believing that I am where I am becasue of my actions.  But then, my actions, yes, are so heavily effect by depression and different when I have not been depressed.

Maybe I just need to stop thinking about it, try to accept what I can, change what I can, and try to take one moment at a time and be as grateful as possible.  I can never be entirely content with or rest on this.  I still have drive, and ambition, and god help me, but I am just not willing to let go and give that up completely.  It is perilously close to quitting, in my mind, which I'm close to anyway - that is what sui*dial ideations are all about for me.

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1 hour ago, gandolfication said:

Yah, this has become truly a common phenomenon that is very much en vogue in recent years in corporate (especially sales) environments - to be 'real' and 'transparent' ... What really does get under my skin is the way that the higher you go in most organizations, you find that people embody more character traits on the DSM's checklist for sociopathology.  And one thing this means is that they are very good at pure double speak...

Snipping some words together above to agree in brief that it's a false-face.  Corporate mid and high tier personnel are rarely, if ever, 'transparent' despite such words being buzz phrases of 'corporate social responsibility' and a 'top place to work'.  In my experience being part of 'corporate' means not only being part of lies and contradictions; but worse, being exposed to continuous attempts at manipulation / mind-games.  It's really not unlike being part of a highly dysfunctional family dynamic, or even a cult...  For the best is probably being self-employed, if one can pull it off, in order to shed toxicity.  I'm not in any way claiming that's easy.  But it's perhaps a necessity for those of us who are honest, ethical, and not up to playing the game along side the sociopaths.

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1 hour ago, standup said:

I think there was some research that said that, the higher you go up on the corporate ladder or in government, the higher the rates of sociopathy. I hope that's something I just misread because that would be really, really sad.

No, I have read it in a couple books and heard it, and besides, frankly it is too commonly experienced in real life to be denied.  

At a minimum, a person has to be able to compartmentalize and accept casualties in order to do what is needed to be effective in these roles and levels.  But what is needed to get there is really what I think causes personalities with high socio-pathological markers to be able to rise through the ranks.  There is no question that personality profiles of CEOs correlate very strongly on a bell curve with the markers for pathologies. 

I should add that even if a person actually meets the textbook definition and is a sociopath, that does not necessarily mean that they become a serial killer or anything like that.  One is a personality and psychological profile, the other is a very specific set of actions.

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2 minutes ago, gandolfication said:
7 minutes ago, bohemian_artist said:

 

In my experience being part of 'corporate' means not only being part of lies and contradictions; but worse, being exposed to continuous attempts at manipulation / mind-games.  It's really not unlike being part of a highly dysfunctional family dynamic, or even a cult...  For the best is probably being self-employed, if one can pull it off, in order to shed toxicity.  

Yes, I agree, and as I started reading your post, 'cult' was the thing that started to come to mind, and then you had written it.  I'm sure there are some relevant differences, but it is a pretty good analogy.  

I have long thought (and argued) that our very legal doctrine of corporate entities as legal persons with many of the benefits but few of the burdens of a real person, is at the heart of much evil, suffering and corruption in the world.  This documentary I watched 5-6 years ago, helped me realize how true this is.  http://thecorporation.com/  The central thesis is that a corporation is by both legal definition and actual fiduciary obligation, a faceless, careless, psychopathic entity which must care inordinately about profit and power, to the exclusion of human wellbeing.  

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For years, I've been trying to not think about the fact that positions of power attract the kind of people who really shouldn't be in those positions. Of course, there are exceptions...but it all too often is a true statement. I'd point to the office of the US Presidency, but I don't want to get political. :)

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15 minutes ago, JD4010 said:

For years, I've been trying to not think about the fact that positions of power attract the kind of people who really shouldn't be in those positions. Of course, there are exceptions...but it all too often is a true statement. I'd point to the office of the US Presidency, but I don't want to get political. :)

yah, obviously, we don't have to get political to acknowledge that.

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I should add that when I'm down, I "believe" that the universe is actively hostile towards me, and/or that I don't belong in the universe. I need something to explain the rotten luck I've had since I was a little kid. "Focusing on the negative" doesn't begin to cover it.

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9 minutes ago, JD4010 said:

I should add that when I'm down, I "believe" that the universe is actively hostile towards me, and/or that I don't belong in the universe. I need something to explain the rotten luck I've had since I was a little kid. "Focusing on the negative" doesn't begin to cover it.

Good description....I feel similarly.

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This is a very interesting discussion. I agree that in some cases we are victims. That goes without saying. We are victims of depression, certainly. But for me, the change in attitude helped me more than anything. I felt I got my power back, somehow.

I have also had my share of toxic bosses and I don´t expect them to have compassion for me or what I´m going through. As soon as I let go of my expectations of other people, life became so much better.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Violet31 said:

This is a very interesting discussion. I agree that in some cases we are victims. That goes without saying. We are victims of depression, certainly. But for me, the change in attitude helped me more than anything. I felt I got my power back, somehow.

I have also had my share of toxic bosses and I don´t expect them to have compassion for me or what I´m going through. As soon as I let go of my expectations of other people, life became so much better.

Yah, these are good points.  I think you've said it well.  I've had the most devilishly hard time changing my attitude.

I certainly agree at least in principle (maybe not always as well in practice) that I ought not to expect a boss to be able to have virtually any real understanding.  Heck, I don't have compassion for my inability to perform at a high level - and this is really part of the root of the problem for me.
I am very much my own worst enemy...insisting on a standard of near-perfection and upon expectations that whether because of depression or tother factors I am not able to live up to.  And I struggle like mad to try to change this.
 

Letting go of my expectations of other people is often easier for me than letting go of my own.

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i guess everyone is a victim of circumstance , Most things are out of our control we can't choose what kind of culture we are born into, what kind of parents we will have, what our living circumstances are, how much we start out with in life, whether we are born with sickness or not. Its ok to think of yourself as a victim as long as you accept that it is in your best interest to improve your situation, I know its taboo in our society to admit that we are a victim of but the only way we can make postive changes in our lifes is to knowledge the circumstances that influence ous, there is no point of feeling guilty about things you could not change in the past.

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2 hours ago, Misanthrop said:

Do you know what the synonym of victims is? Puppets.

Do you know what the antonym of puppets aka victims is? Puppet masters.

That's is how the world just works: the puppet masters are & will be powerful enough to abuse their puppets aka victims

Hence the key to not be a victim is to instead be a puppet master

But how can us, the depressed, be capable of doing so? Has there been any historical records of clinically depressed person(s) risen to power akin to a puppet master?

A good question.  Oh yes indeed there have been well documented examples of severely depressed people rising to the apex of power.

These are both spellbinding books, btw, especially the one on Lincoln.  

In addition, it is pretty well-accepted now I think that people who are or rate high on sociopathological markers tend to rise higher and faster in society and within organizations of all types:

John Ronson's book The Psychopath Test is also really interesting.

The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry. When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed on on the street today.

 

https://www.amazon.com/First-Rate-Madness-Uncovering-Between-Leadership/dp/0143121332

This New York Times bestseller is a myth-shattering exploration of the powerful connections between mental illness and leadership. Historians have long puzzled over the apparent mental instability of great and terrible leaders alike: Napoleon, Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, and others. In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Programme at Tufts Medical Center, offers and sets forth a controversial, compelling thesis: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. From the importance of Lincoln's "depressive realism" to the lacklustre leadership of exceedingly sane men as Neville Chamberlain, A First-Rate Madness overturns many of our most cherished perceptions about greatness and the mind.

 

Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

https://www.amazon.com/Lincolns-Melancholy-Depression-Challenged-President/dp/0618773444/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0618773444&pd_rd_r=9GFN7MQ916E5V1GDVGHM&pd_rd_w=Zp00d&pd_rd_wg=8NGCQ&psc=1&refRID=9GFN7MQ916E5V1GDVGHM

Giving shape to the deep depression that pervaded Lincoln's adult life, Joshua Wolf Shenk's Lincoln's Melancholy reveals how this illness influenced both the president's character and his leadership. Lincoln forged a hard path toward mental health from the time he was a young man. Shenk draws from historical record, interviews with Lincoln scholars, and contemporary research on depression to understand the nature of his unhappiness. In the process, he discovers that the President's coping strategies—among them, a rich sense of humor and a tendency toward quiet reflection—ultimately helped him to lead the nation through its greatest turmoil.

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2 hours ago, Misanthrop said:

Do you know what the synonym of victims is? Puppets.

Do you know what the antonym of puppets aka victims is? Puppet masters.

That's is how the world just works: the puppet masters are & will be powerful enough to abuse their puppets aka victims

Hence the key to not be a victim is to instead be a puppet master

But how can us, the depressed, be capable of doing so? Has there been any historical records of clinically depressed person(s) risen to power akin to a puppet master?

This also makes me think of Nietzsche's Master-Slave morality, which a friend recently made me aware of:

 

Master–slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche's works, in particular the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: 'Master morality' and 'Slave morality'. Slave morality values things like kindness, humility, and sympathy, while master morality values pride, strength, and nobility. Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences (i.e. classical virtues and vices, consequentialism), unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions (e.g. Christian virtues and vices, Kantian deontology). Master–slave morality does not take into account human emotions.

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In the sense that the world is not set up to favor people like me, I could possibly think of myself as "collateral damage" ergo a "victim" of some sort. Since so many jobs have gone overseas, many people who are more "craftsmen" rather than "salesmen" are left out of decent jobs, decent places to live and so on. Are you a victim when everything you are forced to do feels like a cop out, and you feel raped every day at work? In my 20 or so years of work, I have not had the money to go on a vacation, get an education, or do anything because I am stuck in a low wage world. So I don't know. Am I a victim?

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