These behaviors are a progression of choices that derive from victim identification. This model suggests that these choices are ultimately bad for the person’s health, can literally lead to disease (such as cancer), sickness, and potentially death.  Progressively the D’s are:


  1. Downplay, discount, and diminish
  2. Deny
  3. Deflect
  4. Divert
  5. Delay
  6. Disrupt
  7. Disrespect
  8. Deceive and delude (gaslight)
  9. Dominate
  10. Disengage
  11. Disease
  12. Disability
  13. Death

Steps 1-9 are energetic and outwardly focused. Beginning with step 10, the individual collapses emotionally and goes inward resulting in disease, disability, and potentially death – the last stages of the martyr move.

As children, we all engage in early types of these behaviors in order to receive special accommodation, rescue, or relief from distress or for some form of accountability and responsibility. Embracing this strategy entails that the person identifies with the role of victim and perpetuates stories that cast the person in that role. The risk of embracing this as a primary strategy is an eventual reliance on -and acceptance of – the victim delusion: they eventually accept these stories as truth, which becomes embedded in the individual’s self-concept of their own character (worldview is the pool where thoughts arise, thoughts become words become actions become habits become character becomes destiny).

The individual who adopts this strategy may have been a victim, or the behaviors may have been learned from a victim. Regardless of the reason for the adoption, the process of moving out of these behaviors entails re-writing the story by assessing the role of the individual within the narrative and re-writing their role as an autonomous actor responsible for their choices. This likely entails trusting relationships and a setting where the individual can honestly evaluate the internalized stories and separate themselves from the role.

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